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Posted: Monday 12 March, 2018

by Rosemary at 4:07pm in Smallholding No comments Add your own

Monday 5th March

Most of the snow has now gone; it’s been grey and rainy and miserable but at least the taps have unfrozen. After the thaw, the flooding.

Ditch at Macdonald Smith DriveCulvert our fields eventually drain into.

Feeling a bit sorry for the sheep; the four single bearing ewes, the tup and the wether are in the pig pen. It’s pretty wet and there’s no grass – but they have the hay rack and a licky bucket.

I’ve started giving them 1.5kg of hard feed once a day between them. I hope I, and they, don’t pay for it later.

The seven twin bearers are in a wee paddock by the caravan. It’s not much better but there’s no point in letting them our into any of the other paddocks – there’s no grass there either, they’re just as wet and the ground will only get trashed.

Thawing poultry paddocksThawing poultry paddocks.

So decided that it’s better to have the two wee areas well trashed and protect the rest.

Tuesday 6th March

Went down to EP to put hay in for the steers, and the wee white calf isn’t right. He’s lame in a back foot and has lost a lot of condition – I’m hoping it’s just a knock and that he’s not been eating. I’ve given him another dose of Closamectin, just in case.

After a chat with A, we’ve turned out the two year old steers on to 16 acres!!! We’d intended to do this soon anyway as there’s a lot of rough grass on it that the steers will eat off (well, some of it anyway – 8 acres per beast is a lot).

Steers at EPSteers enjoying their freedom.

Dan had to do some running repairs on a line of fencing – the curious steers thought the garden looked interesting.

I’ll give the white calf 24 hours and see how he is

 I’ll give all of them a bit of sugar beet for a week or so.

Wednesday 7th March

It’s been dry overnight and the flood waters are receding, but are far from gone.

The white calf looks a bit better. He’s not as lame, so it looks like a knock rather than an infection.

All four are enjoying the sugar beet – the two-year-olds, Paulo and Pedro, recognise the sound of the car engine on the road and are at the gate by the time I get in.

Cleaned out the brown henhouse – it was pretty horrid. Our houses are sited with backs to the prevailing wind which is westerly – so the rain and snow from the “Beast from the East” was blowing straight in the vents. It was fine to close the big vents overnight, but closing them during the day makes the houses dark and stuffy.

So wet seemed better.

Thursday 8 March

A frosty start, then the sun came out.

Expecting to get the hogget back from the butcher this week, so carried on defrosting, cleaning and stock-taking the freezers.

Hoggett carcassOur hogget carcases.

Cleaned out the green hen house. It was equally minging.

The white steer is definitely on the mend and is fleshing up already.

Gave Blizzard a bit of a bath – she’s so mucky, it’s depressing. For me.

Pulled some cabbages for the sheep – we aren’t going to eat them but the sheep loved them.

Dan’s been getting on with the pruning of apple trees – it’s pretty time consuming. In fact, the orchard is far more work than I expected, especially at this time of year.

Some to the trees have grown a bit squint, so they’re being staked to straighten them and some need branches tied down to open up the framework. Then they need top-dressed with wood ash, mulched and then sprayed with Neem oil.

Barrel of ashSo that's why we've been collecting wood ash from the stoves!

The cider had better be good this year.

The heifers aren’t going this weekend as there’s still no access to their new home.

Friday 9 March

Dan took a load of manure to the local community garden, I picked up two loads of hay and straw and then popped down to the butcher to pick up the hogget. Boy, does it look fantastic.

It cost £190 to have them killed and butchered, plus two journeys to Fife (one to the abattoir and one to the butcher) but the label prices for the meat total over £800.

All I have to do now is sell it.

Saturday 10 March

Wet and miserable. So is the weather.

Sunday 11 March

Dry and mild. Dan pruned the apple trees in his folk’s garden – but had a day off from the orchard.

We emptied the byre as we’re going to use it for lambing this year. It’s not perfect but it’s our best option.

Once the heifers go off, the field shelter can be mucked out and used too.

Gave Annie a bath on one side and started investigating how we might build cubicles for next winter.

Dan’s folks and Lorna came for dinner; we had roast mutton from 2016, leek and potato bake and peas, followed by steamed syrup sponge and cream. It was delicious.

Roast leg of muttonRoast leg of mutton.

The mutton was from a sheep at least five years old and it was beautifully tender and flavoursome. Can’t wait to try the hogget.

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