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Posted: Monday 27 May, 2019

by Rosemary at 10:37am in Smallholding No comments Add your own

Monday 20th May

As usual, Monday is paperwork day. With it being the start of the new financial year and with the business reorganisation we’ve done, the systems are just settling down. I will admit to finding this quite stressful. I also seem to have done something weird to the spreadsheets we use while transferring them to the new year. Dan is not best pleased at having to sort them out. Again.

Shearing is arranged for Friday afternoon. The ewes are peching.

Tuesday 21st May

Warm and showery. I’ll be glad when the fleeces are off.

Zephyr is now eating hay. I need to decide whether to start seperating off the calves before milking as the yield is dropping. To be honest, I wouldn't milk Rosie if she was the only one in milk, but if I'm milking Annie, I might as well milk both. And both calves will have to come in anyway.

rosieRosie and Zephyr.

Wednesday 22nd May

Warm and showery again. Got the scythe out and cut nettles and docks in Laing’s Field. I like being a peasant. However, smart peasants remember that the blade is sharp and don’t run a finger along it when they’re drying it. Ouch.

scythingReady to be scythed.

Did some Festival stuff and some Smallholding Scotland stuff and popped to Harbro for some feed. Bought a wee sneaky bag of milk powder just in case we don’t have the lambs weaned before the current bag runs out.

Our next development is around the barn; we need to fence the little paddock around it and fix the gate from there into the barn; then the mats need to be lifted, cleaned and refitted with proper edges put in at the perimeter. We didn't cut many of the mats this year, so some have lifted a bit - how I haven't ended up on my face is a miracle. I'd like to avoid cutting as many as possible. The ring feeder is going to need some remedial work, for sure.

feederPoor old ring feeder.

Thursday 23rd May

Dammit. Fox killed all our meat chicks last night. Eleven gone and one dead in the pen. Foxy had dug her way in – it was always a risk but we’ve done this for eight years without incident. We’ve seen the fox circling the pen but never any sign of even trying to dig. Dan has a plan to prevent a recurrence. The only positive aspect is that we’re doing our meat birds in two batches this year – in any other year, all twenty four would have been gone.

Lovely tea-time farm tour – first time we’ve done a 5pm tour and it went really well, even if the pet lambs are thugs now.

Friday 24th May

Beautiful day – warm and sunny. Perfect for shearing!

As usual, didn’t go as planned. Sheep didn’t want to come in; got them in and started to set up the pens. About ten minutes before Alistair the shearer arrived, the bees swarmed. Honestly, you couldn’t write it.

Thankfully, Tara was here to help and Alistair is planning to get bees so he was happy to watch what was going on and have a chat to Dan about bee keeping – and how to avoid swarms!!!

The shearing was pretty hard work – there wasn’t much rise and we should probably have waited a week or so but last year we had fly eggs and maggots so it’s always a compromise and I’d rather miss the fly strike.

shearingShearing 2019 underway.

I’ve kept the two Shetland fleeces for a friends to hand spin. They are beautiful. Alistair is pretty sure Bambi isn’t in lamb. I think I’ll give her another turn with Urquhart. She looks even more like a deer with her fleece off.

fleecesShetland fleeces.

We’ve decided to put Teddy, our wether, away for mutton this year. He must be six or seven now. Probably August, when the two cull ewes go. He’s big and not great on his feet and I’m always a bit worried about him. Nothing specific – but if he was human, you’d say he was a prime candidate for a heart attack. So without wanting to appear callous, I’d rather get the mutton than have vet bill. We’ve also decided to run the three pet lambs on for mutton and to keep Urquhart company.

As a result of the swarm, which I think Dan dealt with extremely well, we now have four colonies of bees. The new colony seems to have settled down fine.

We hosted a tour for a local Rainbows group this evening. Loved it.

Saturday 25th May

Showery today, but mostly light rain. Spent most of the day in the vegetable garden. Weeded, fertilised and strawed the strawberries; planted out some peas, after Dan constructed some pea supports, did some more weeding.

Dan and I tidied out the greenhouse and I sowed some leeks in modules. Dan weeded the polytunnel, planted out more cucumber and tomatoes and sowed spring onions. He also disposed of the petrol flavoured strawberries. Not a triumph.

The ponies have been on grass cutting duties.

poniesPonies on grass cutting duties.

We’ve been collecting nettles for nettle tea, so Dan found  a blue barrel with a tap on the bottom and has set it up for use.

John replaced the pump in the IBC that waters the polytunnel.

Moved the sheep to a fresh paddock; we need to get the topper on and top the paddock they’ve just come off.

And we have out first early peas ready in the polytunnel! Next year, I’m going to grow a load of them – early peas and nitrogen for the tomatoes to follow! What’s not to like? Variety called Oskar – delicious.

Sunday 26th May

Where’s spring? Horrible morning. Lots of rain overnight. Sheep not very happy without coats – amazing how many you can get in the field shelter. I’ve put straw down just to keep them clean.

Cows queuing at the gate to get in this morning at 6am. When I went to milk at 7.30am, they were all asleep, so milking delayed for a bit.

Archie seemed a bit confused this morning. Ace seemed remarkably unconcerned. I'm hoping it's just a phase.

archieArchie and Ace.

Saw the fox and a cub this morning while I was cleaning the ponies’ field. Hope it enjoyed its chicken dinner.

Cleaned my boots ready for the SALSA meeting in Inverness on Tuesday and Wednesday. Hope they’re dry for my departure tomorrow tea-time.

Sorted out the fleeces to go to The Natural Fibre Company; four bags totalling roughly 68kg. We want two batches of double knitting done – one made of all the white fleeces and the lightest coloured ones and one made with all the other coloured fleeces. It’s a bit daunting sending off the prepayment but I know I’ll get a great product back. Exciting! Hoping to get a stand at the Edinburgh Yarn Festival next year.

It’s now 4pm; it’s very warm and windy. Hopefully drying the place up nicely.

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