Update w/e 19th July 2009RSS feed

Posted: Tuesday 21 July, 2009

by Rosemary at 12:04pm in Anything goes 1 comment Comments closed

The weather has continued to be changeable here. We've had some really heavy showers and our garage has flooded a few times – the drain is inadequate so I'm going to get a water butt to put on the downpipe to take the pressure off it. Fortunately, anything that could have been damaged was high enough off the floor to be safe.

In the garden, the French beans are ready – I've not grown these before but we had them for dinner yesterday and they are really tasty. Along with peas, carrots and new potatoes – all our Sunday vegetables were homegrown.

Two of our apple trees, Sunset and Dumelow's Seedling, are groaning with apples; the Egremont Russet is a bit sparser. The Dumelow's Seedling is a cooker and keeps brilliantly. I used the last of the 2008 crop about March 2009. The Victoria plums have a decent crop too, so I can see some chutney being made this year. The pear tree has two tiny pears on it; we planted a second pear tree last autumn, but it's still very small and Li'l' Bud did have a wee nibble at it. Hopefully next year it will come away.

As expected, I had a visit from Animal Health on Thursday. It was less traumatic than I expected. The two people, a vet and an Animal Health officer, were very nice and explained what they were doing and why. Apparently, we (Britain) have to prove to the EU, God love them, that we don't have brucellosis or toxoplasmosis in the sheep flock, hence the routine survey testing. They took a blood sample from five of my six sheep – Jura wasn't very co-operative! – and I will get the results in due course.

I also had a visit from an experienced Ryeland breeder to assess Li'l' Bud. He certainly meets the breed standard for bite, horn buds etc but some of the other stuff comes down to taste, basically. However, that's good enough for me, so I'm going to lend him to my chum, Carol, for the breeding season – he can have half a dozen ewes – then next year, I'll show him then maybe sell him in the back end as a shearling ram. So that means that Dickie can be castrated and kept as a companion. I'm glad he's going to have a useful role that doesn't include BBQ!

I'm hoping to buy two ewe lambs this year, to run with Lyra. I will go to some of the auctions, but will try to buy privately, I think.

I have been given the use of the 6 acre field opposite our house to graze the sheep. This is wonderful news, as grazing was tight here. However, we had to start by excluding the sheep belonging to the neighbouring farm. So our fencers came down on Friday and added some additional wires to the existing fence, which was in pretty good condition, and tightened all the wires. Unfortunately, they fenced a few of the farmer's sheep in our side!

There were two Blackface lambs and one Mule lamb. At the corner of the field, there is a bit of fence made of wooden rails, so we dismantled that to let them through. Of course, because they hadn't come in that way, they didn't recognize it as a way back. So after a few futile attempts to get them to go through – they run real fast, you know, even though they're small – I suggested that we leave it open overnight, not in the hope that they would go through but hoping that some of the others would come through that way during the night and, therefore, know their way back when we asked them to leave in the morning.

It worked a treat. By morning, there was a dozen lambs in our field, most of which had come through “our� gap in the fence. It was relatively straightforward to gather them, point them in the right direction and let them make their way back to the right side of the fence. Dan nailed up the wooden rails and job done! Brains over brawn, I say.

We now need to get the field topped – the stragglers were fence in our side because the grass is so long, the boys couldn't see them. I'm not sure if it's too late to take a hay crop, but I'll take advice on that.

The pigs are fine and growing on. They got new straw yesterday and that was a cause of great excitement and much nest building.

I'm going to get 12 new pullets on Wednesday – demand for eggs is outstripping supply, which is good. We've had no dog incursions this week, touch wood. The Hubbards are doing well as are the little chicks. They're three weeks now – I think the broody might be getting a bit stir crazy, though.

On Sunday, Central Scotland Smallholders has a visit to Julie Hill and Bob Henderson www.henderson-hill-bordercollies.co.uk for a sheepdog masterclass. And what a masterclass it was! Julie and Bob are both very experienced and very successful trainers of sheepdogs – they are the real deal. With eighteen dogs, from two little puppies to vastly experienced trial dogs, they were able to show us dogs at different stages of training and also dogs of the same age, but with different styles, strengths and weaknesses and levels of maturity. Julie has written a book called “The Natural Way� (by Julie Simpson) which explains her method of using the dog's natural behaviour to successfully train it. Everyone there thoroughly enjoyed it and we all went away with a better understanding of dog behavior generally, and I'm sure our relationships with our own dogs will benefit.



Wednesday 22 July, 2009 at 12:20am

It is so lovely to have a meal with all your own vegetables!

Great news about your apple trees. Our pear is very heavy with fruit - apparently it has been a perfect winter and spring for fruit trees with bumper crops expected. Do you thin your apples? I don't usually like to sacrifice fruit but otherwise I fear the branches may snap this year!

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