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Posted: Monday 6 April, 2020

by Rosemary at 2:12pm in Smallholding No comments Add your own

Monday 30th March

Lovely spring day – mostly sunny and genuinely warm, with little wind. Turned out the steers at East PItkerro; one of the red steers made a huge leap out of the shed and spread-eagled on the concrete. He seems fine and has probably run off any problem but he’ll be sore when the adrenalin drops. The other red steer and Archie picked their way down on the grassy side and Charlie didn’t want to go out at all – but eventually he did and the four of them took off round the 16 acre field that will be their home for the summer. They did chase the tups but I think that’ll pass. Fingers crossed. They’ve got a bale of hay and a licky bucket to see them OK.

steerRuaridh or Rocky

steer1Ruaridh or Rocky.


Ewes and lambs were all sunbathing in the field shelter – they’re not going far up the field yet.

Tractor John was here this morning and Miranda is now fully fit and ready for topping and harrowing. And this afternoon, Dan got the topper on and whacked all the rushes in the Five Acre paddocks. Yay! And he’s going to make a start on  Laing’s Field tomorrow, then change to the harrow.

After lunch, I made a trifle and gingernuts.


Dan made sour dough bread and then crackers using the sour dough discard. They’re really tasty but need to be a bit thinner. Finally, I managed to get into the veg garden and plant garlic, shallots and onions. I don’t usually grow onions but they were part of a pack. I had real trouble putting them in the right way up, for some reason.

Blizzard is lame. Again. Same foot – off hind. Texted the foot trimmer. Poor girl – she’s had a rotten time. Just hope she and the calf are OK.

After dinner, which included trifle of course, I did an hour in the office.

Tuesday 31st March

Our tidy barn is tidy no more. How does that happen?

barnWhat happenend to the tidy barn?.

Another nice day, if a bit changeable. Dan’s been up in the orchard clearing up all the trimmings and cutting down two diseased trees; they got a touch of fire blight a couple of years ago and never fully recovered. Then he went off to top – not to mow – in Laing’s Field. He did his comfrey orders this morning and I took them to the Post Office and a trailer wheel with a flat tyre to the tyre place.

toppingDan and MIranda, our wee John Deere, topping Laing's Field.

Foot trimmer came this evening to have a look at Blizzard’s foot. He’s confident he’s found the cause, has trimmed it back and put on a block to relieve the pressure. Fingers crossed that all is now well.

I ordered two bales of haylage for Niamh, which were delivered this evening – thank you, Conchies. I think she’s a bit thin, two weeks from lambing, so I’m going to bring her, No7 and No2 in, so I can feed her up a bit.

It’s our business year ends today, so quick stocktake but I’ve got a pile of invoices to deal with and a VAT return. I’ve misplaced a bank statement, which is annoying.

Made blackberry and muscovado muffins – I’d taken the blackberries out the freezer with no clear plan and didn’t want to waste them.

Wednesday 1st April

Dry, sunny and breezy – warm out of the wind. One of the triplets – one of the two ewe lambs – has entropion in one eye. I thought I had sorted it when she was born, buy I spotted it running yesterday. I’m annoyed with myself for missing it. She’s a cracking lamb too. From teatime yesterday, I turned it every hour (except 11pm to 6am) but I had to take her to the vet this afternoon – in the cat basket. She wasn’t happy and let me know. Thankfully, it’s only 15 minutes to the vet’s house – he’s working from home because of Covid-19. The injection into the eyelid gives me the heeby-jeebies. Still, that should be her sorted now and we had a lovely reunion between ewe and lamb when I brought her back.

Blizzard is sound today – yay! I’ve started mucking out what was the heifers’ pen. Planning to do six barrows a day. It’s braw stuff.

penHeifer pen.

heifermuckheifer pen muck - braw stuff!

Dan was in the office today, so I joined him and made a start on the year end stuff. Once he escaped, he was back topping Laing’s Field. He’s done a fantastic job. Topping all our paddocks and Laing’s Field take about five hours. Now it will be off with the topper and on with the harrow. The fields look hellish. I think the cows might be in until July.

Bedded the byre and brought Niamh and No7 in. They seem to like the haylage – but they like the hay too. I’d just like to see Niamh put on a bit of condition.

Thursday 2nd April

Very windy today. Dan was working most of the day  but managed to get up to the orchard to clear up more prunings, spread wood ash, mulch with hay / straw and plant more comfrey.

comfreyMore comfrey planted in the orchard.

I cleaned out the hens and carried on mucking out the heifer pen.

I also spent some time in the office preparing for the year end – never been this far on this quickly before.

Some of the lambs are starting to have a bit nibble at the cake.

lambLamb, cake and hen.

Friday 3rd April

Brrr, cold this morning – water frozen, but no wind. Clouding up, getting very windy, and some showers, including a few wintry ones. Good start to the day giving the cows their annual Bravoxin booster. Protects them from soil borne clostridial disease and also helps to protect their young calves. It’s only six weeks or so until Annie and Rosie are due to calve.

Brought No2 in – she’s Niamh’s daughter and she’s only in to keep her mammy company  after No7 lambs. She’s not in lamb herself. We need to get her a proper name   - “No2” is no good long term. She and No7 were tussling, so No2 is in a pen of her own.

2No2; Bryn is following not herding.

Finished the heifer pen area; the muck trailer is now full again and Dan will take it away either this evening or tomorrow morning.

The meat chicks are now two weeks old so the heat lamp is now off during the day. After giving them their daily bed, I sorted out some electric fence posts – we have loads – into tidy bundles of ten. Once the Covid19 situation is over, I’ll try and sell them.

More orchardy tasks for Dan. He’s going harrowing this weekend, so he’s trying to get ahead. Frank dropped off some seed potatoes, so we’ll be getting them in over the next few days.


Saturday 4th April

Cool and cloudy, fine if you kept moving. Dan was off first thing with a load of muck, then after breakfast, put the harrow on the tractor and went off round three of our six paddocks. He reseeded the bit that was affected by the septic tank incident, then rolled it and put the sprinkler on. It’s very dry. Hate to say it but we could do with a wee bit rain. He’s been doing all sorts of bits and pieces – including baking bread and he’s got pork curing, so that has to be massaged twice a day. Who’d have thunk! He finished the day by cutting the grass in he vegetable garden.

I did some weeding – we’ve got some nice cabbages and purple sprouting broccoli coming. Protection is the key, I think. I planted more garlic - some that I had put in the freezer overnight - and built a wee pen round the pig ark for the piglets that we’re getting on Tuesday, so that they’ll learn where their bed is before they are loose in the full sized pen. We’re getting three of Delilah’s boys.

Gave Smokey a brush and ten minutes in hand grazing, as a treat. He’s very good at doing the edges round the polytunnel.

We don’t use a lot of straw but bought a bale for the lambing pens and the pig ark. It was quite wet on the outside, and somehow it collapsed and got tossed about in yesterday’s wind. One of my jobs for today was to tidy it up – the remainder of the bale is in a dumpy bag and there’s two bags of good straw. The rest is in bags for the muck heap, but it needs to be mixed with cleanings from the ponies and cattle.

I think Niamh, No7 and No2 are rather enjoying their confinement. Fed twice a day, ad lib haylage and regular treats – today they’ve had carrots, kale and oatcakes. No7’s due 7th but I think she’ll lamb before that. I think I’ll do a 2am check tonight, just in case.

We were going to have an afternoon off but we didn’t – I think if you feel a bit fed up and give yourself permission to stop, you often don’t want to. It’s the permission that matters.

Sunday 5th April

Cool, breezy, sunny spells. That’s all our paddocks harrowed – on to Laing’s Field next. A few odd jobs done today. Advertised eggs for sale and made a blackboard for the end of the road. Seemed to be busy all day but hardly anything scored off the list.




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