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Posted: Monday 23 May, 2016

by Rosemary Champion at 9:41am in Smallholding Comments closed

The weather this week has been pretty good. We’ve had some rain, which has been welcome, but the ground is dry and it disappears almost immediately. Dan’s topped the rushes in all the paddocks bar one – after that, the harrow will go back on. I need to source some grass seed to oversow the remaining bare patches.

The fruit trees are in magnificent full bloom – they are just beautiful. And the veg garden is starting to look better as the peas and brassicas are planted and the sown crops, like beetroot, start to sprout. Felling the big cedar last week has let an amazing amount of sunlight into both the veg garden, in the morning, and the back lawn, in the afternoon.

Following form last week’s Beaver visits, we hosted a RHET organised visit from a P5 class in a Dundee school. They were doing a project on land use and “War Horse”. While we couldn’t provide a warhorse, Lucy, Smokey and Bug did their best to look courageous. The kids seemed to enjoy feeding the lambs, hens and pigs and collecting eggs. They took some sausages and eggs back to school and they’ll be cooking them today, probably.

Our little flock of eleven Rosedean Ryelands has arrived safely in Sutherland and is settling in to their new home.

After much agonizing, I’ve sold the remaining eight breeding ewes and four gimmers to another local flock owner – they’ll go after the lambs are weaned in August. We’re retaining the fourteen ewes lambs from this year (and the seven tup lambs for the freezer) and will start breeding again in 2017/18 but we’ve decided to have a year off lambing. We have three ewes that we’re culling this year and we’re keeping two old ewes as “mentors” for the ewe lambs and, of course, Teddy, our wether. A family is coming to see the gimmer that failed to lamb this year with a view to buying her as a pet / lawnmower. So that will take us down to one group of seventeen sheep to overwinter and I hope to use the opportunity to improve the grass here and at Astwood. Between the weather this winter and running four groups of sheep – hoggs, singles, twins and triplets – the paddocks have taken a bit of a hammering.

Our shearer, Alistair, was here on Saturday and all went well – nineteen fleeces are now boxed and ready to be packed up and sent to The Natural Fibre Company.

Shearing 2016Shearing.

FleeceRyeland fleece.

Our on-line shop is working well and we’ve had orders for yarn from Alaska and New South Wales, Australia. Just amazing!

We vaccinated the lambs with Heptavac before Alistair arrived but the tags hadn’t been delivered, so we’re planning to tag the lambs this afternoon, before we take them all back to Astwood.

Blizzard and Annie seem happy to be home and reunited with Rosie and Vicki. The bull and steers are now “bachelor boys” but they’re in a new filed with lots of grass, so they aren’t pining for the cows as far as I can tell. They all got an application of Spot-on on Friday, to kill lice and deter flies. Rosie’s started to get a bit of an udder. Cue mucking out byre and making sure the milking machine works.

Thank fully, we’ve resolved the crow problem, so egg production is back to normal. The wee chooks are growing fast and starting to lay tiny eggs – abut four a day. Very good as picnic eggs.

I’ll be collecting the meat chicks on Friday – and that will be us pretty much full for the summer. Happy days.


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