Diary

Rhubarb / Roo / AceRSS feed

Posted: Sunday 21 March, 2021

by Rosemary at 6:18pm in Smallholding No comments Add your own

 Monday 15th March

March 15th is the day the Rural Payments Single Application Form (SAF) opens to farmers. I was tempted to stay up last night until midnight plus 1 minute and complete it then, but I waited until a more reasonable 10am.  That’s it done for another year.

I took the dogs and walked the fields taking soil samples for pH, potash, phosphate and magnesium testing.  I did three samples – Sheepfold, our five-acre field and Laing’s Field. I more or less followed the W pattern. I think. Dropped them off at the SAC office in Forfar, along with the soil corer and we should get the results next week.

Painted the second outside wall of the WC. Cotside Quarry delivered a tonne of topsoil and another two bags of granite chips.

Tuesday 16th March

Lovely day, so I was solar powered. I started with my new daily task of taking three barrows of waste hay off Near Ditch, where I lazily fed the cows in the winter / early spring. Laziness always comes back to bite. Then took three barrows of horse poop off Sheepfold – I’ll be doing this daily too, until it’s clean. Tara’s doing three barrow loads, too so we’ll soon get it right – but we’ll be poo picking daily from now on. We’re making a pile in the field and Steven’s going to come and take it away when his spring work is done.

sheepfoldSheepfold, in recovery.

Then on to the patio – put down the two bags of granite chips, so all four beds are done – and removed the breadbaskets filling the gap between the house and the trellis.  I’m sure we can find something more aesthetically pleasing.

The third outside wall of the WC got a second coat of preservative. Dan’s still got the final finishings inside to do but he won’t let me do it. Probably wise.

Dan had a comfrey order to go to the post box, so Smokey and I took it, through the housing estate. If you’ve seen the “Lord of the Rings” movies, you’ll know in the second one, Aragorn is injured and rescued by his horse, which takes him home. If I injured myself, I reckon I’d bleed to death, as Smokey munched his way through the lawns of Carnoustie.

Roo and Niamh areinto a good routien for feeding - Roo is carrying triplets and Niamh's old.Roo's still bonkers though.

rooRoo (Black Bluefaced Leicester) and Niamh (Coloured Ryeland).

And before attending to the evening chores, I weeded the second bed along the side of the West Range. Not very well – there will be a fine crop of ground elder soon, but I’ll go back to it.

And I saw a butterfly.

Wednesday 17th March

Last night, I’m just settling down to sleep about 10pm and I suddenly thought, “The sheep have no hay. And they don’t have their licky bucket.” Ace was slow coming in and Dan shut him in when he went to take the dogs out. I forgot to ask tell him (Dan) to put hay out for the sheep – so out of bed, PJs and Crocs, hay out, licky bucket out (I have to remove it from the field when the cows are out or Blizzard in particular just munches it). Back to bed, heid buzzin’. Bit weary this morning but the sun is out and it’s another lovely day.

First job was to collect hay – new, bigger bales. And more expensive. Yay.

John the Tractor arrived to administer first aid to Miranda, our tractor. She needs new batteries. Don’t we all! They’re ordered and will be here tomorrow. It’s a settled forecast, so Dan wants to get out and get harrowing. And I want the bucket on and out in the poopiest bits of Sheepfold, so we can shovel straight into the bucket and dump it on the pile. Great tip – thank you, Steven.

Since it was almost completely still, I spread some grass seed and wildflower seeds on the six poultry pens. There will be no hens on there for a wee while yet, so hopefully, it’ll get a chance to come away.

And the last wall of the WC got its second coat. Yay! Done. And it looks pretty good.

We had a fencing fail this morning between Near Ditch and Near Top. Annie had obviously been pushing on the fence, snapped the top wire and a post and stepped over / jumped over. Oh, the noise. I let them all through in preference to more possible damage to the fence, so Dan had to go do some repairs after he finished at his desk. I think I’ll put an electric wire along the top tomorrow.

Lambs liver, bacon and onions for dinner – love it. Dan’s didn’t join me – so all the more for me. I’ll be supercharged tomorrow and certainly not anaemic.

Dan took himself off to Screwfix, so I shut the caravan hens in. PLEASE let this lockdown end soon. Two hens had escaped. One was perched beside the run – easy peasy; the other was snugged down right under the caravan. The ground’s not that dry yet – as I was face down, reaching under to grab her.  Bloody hens.

Thursday 18th March

More waste hay cleared off Near Ditch, more poop off Sheepfold – and it’s so warm. Jings, I was sweating. Absolutely glorious day. Must have been 16C. First washing of the year on the line.

washingWashing on teh line - braw!

The cows didn’t come on last night but dandered in this morning, when they saw the sheep and the ponies being fed. That’s them in until tomorrow morning. Got an electric tape on, so hopefully, they’ll stay on this side of the fence.

tapeElectric tape installed and fingers crossed.

John the Tractor was back today; Miranda’s new batteries are in place and she’d all better.  Dan suggested one of her first jobs should be to move the hens’ caravan. Three hens escaped from the caravan run today.  I think I’ve managed to block up the tears in the netting. It’s pretty dire but I have fingers crossed that lockdown may soon be over. For the hens at least.

Found blackcurrants in the freezer so made some cordial. Soon be eating new season rhubarb!

rhubarbEarly rhubarb coming away.

Friday 19th March

Hmmm, not quite so nice as yesterday – light frost this morning and it’s been a bit overcast all day. Good news is that it looks like the hens’ lockdown will be over on 1st April, so we’ll leave moving the caravan until then. We don’t really want to take the gazebo down and put it back up.

Found more blackcurrants and made more cordial. Ii made 3 2l cartons, which will do us until the elderflower comes.

Tomorrow is the vernal equinox or Ostara. It should be one of our days off. Can’t see it somehow.

Saturday 20th March

The 2021 apple tree pruning is complete! Well done, Dan!

The cows are behaving again, although they haven’t quite learned that the bucket comes at teatime now, not breakfast.

Gave Smokey a good brush; birds will be well nested this year (as every year).

Sunday 21st March

Lovely morning; frost first thing but then the sun came out. I’m sticking to my “three and three” barrows of hay and poop, so feeling happy about that.

Dan’s first job was collecting the prunings for burning, followed by the inevitable bonfire. Then he went off to plant more comfrey – we start sending out root and crown cuttings this week, so my skills as an envelope addresser will be much in demand, since Royal Mail Business are utterly, utterly hopeless. Andy strimmed the wildflower area in the veg garden, while Dan moved the tractor round to the caravan to move the pile of manure. It was a bit softer that he expected, so that job’s on hold for a wee while.

I planned to scythe the rushes in Home, but ended up doing it with the strimmer. The bucolic idyll didn’t quite happen and I kind of feel like a bad person but it’s done.

Ace was playing with the meat birds’ cage. Thankfully it’s empty. Might need a few repairs. And here he is - butter wouldn't melt.

aceAce.

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