That was the week that wasRSS feed

Posted: Sunday 22 November, 2015

by Rosemary Champion at 9:30pm in Smallholding Comments closed

It’s been a mixed week weather-wise here. Last Sunday, it was dry enough for Dan to hitch up the harrow and give Sheepfold a going over. The ponies have been out there over summer – in the limited turnout they have, being fat, hairy natives – and I haven’t picked poo, so the harrow’s broken it all up nicely and the frost should do the rest.

Since then, it’s been mixed – some heavy rain but no snow and a few dry, windy days that have dried things up a bit. It’s pretty soggy underfoot though.

The cows are in now – earlier than in past years, but there wasn’t an awful lot of grass for them and they were poaching a bit – and it seems sensible to keep what grass there is for the sheep. So Blizzard, Annie, Rosie, Vicki and Robbie are in. It’s temporary for Robbie as he’ll be going to join Mak and Hamish next week at our rented grazing – and then they will be joined by Fraser, the Shetland steer calf we’ve bought to chum Robbie. We didn’t like Charlie going to the abattoir on his own – I know the end result is the same, but still  L – so we plan to always have two beasts going off at the same time in future.

Our cattle housing has two parts – one bit is strawed for lying and one is not bedded – that’s where the water trough and the feed barrier are. I’m mucking the feeding area out daily, so it’s kept clean and dry. It also gets the calves used to me just working around them. Vicki is getting much more relaxed and I’ll be getting a halter on her next week. The vet’s coming on Tuesday to PD the three cows and jag Vicki, so that’s always a big day.

In the sheep field, Taylor’s served all eighteen ewes in sixteen days, so if they hold to first service, that’s not too bad a lambing period. We changed the raddle to green today but I’m hoping not to see it on any of the ewes. We’ll probably take him out in three weeks, around 13th December. I’m hoping that now they are all served, Tiny Tim will calm down. He has a track worn along the fence line. Still, he’ll be calming down after Tuesday anyway when he’s being castrated; then he’s going off to a new home as a companion for a tup. Teddy, our wether, is now Bryn’s best chum – at least when there are no dogs around for Bryn to play with.

We’ve been putting the vegetable garden to sleep; weeding, tidying up, putting on manure and covering it with black plastic. We have one bed sown with grazing rye and we’ve still got parsnips, carrots, beetroot (which we’re too ashamed to harvest), leeks, swede, cabbages and sprouts in a couple of the others. We picked the last of the tomatoes today and the polytunnel is almost cleared out.

I started to weed the fruit garden – safe in the knowledge that it won’t be back to square one in a week – but have left round the gooseberries until they’re pruned. They’re deadly. Three are coming out – we planted them too close and it makes for hazardous harvesting – and are going to be replanted up in the orchard where the chooks can make of them what they will. There are some raspberries to come out too – there’s one row that I’ve planted twice but it’s done poorly both times, so I think it must be too close to the trees. I might stick the raspberries up in the orchard as well – moving to forest gardening J

The 2015 hens are laying well – 32 – 34 eggs a day from 39 hens – but the 2014 ones are having a good rest. And the least said about Izzy’s girls, the better J

Oh, and Bryn’s developed an interesting wee habit of clicking his teeth together if he wants to attract your attention – very strange but rather beguiling. I think Meg sort of likes him now. After her “vestibular episode” last month, we’ve put her on anti-inflammatory medication. The vet said she had a bit of arthritis but we had to weigh up the side effects (kidneys and stomach ulcers) against any gain. Given that I saw her running and playing for the first time in – well, I don’t know how long – we’ve decided to keep her on them. At fifteen, she’s on the home straight and to be honest, I’d rather she had two years in comfort than four years of low-grade pain.

Well, I think that’s a decent summary of this week – let’s see what the next one brings J

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