Update w/e 9th AugustRSS feed

Posted: Sunday 9 August, 2009

by Rosemary at 9:55pm in Anything goes Comments closed

Well, it's been a week with a couple of new sheep experiences here - castration and ear tagging.

After some deliberation, Dickie, one of our Ryeland tup lambs, was castrated by the vet on Thursday. He's not good enough for breeding (Dickie, not the vet) and I just couldn't eat him, so we're keeping him as a companion for Li'l' Bud, who won't be able to run with the ewes for much longer. This will be the only year such sentimentality is allowed.

On Friday, we had a foot trimming session, for both ewes and lambs. We don't turn them over now; Dan holds their heads and they stand quietly while I trim their feet as you would a horse. Although none of them were lame, some of their feet were quite long and they will be more comfortable now. We also took the opportunity to put in the lambs' ear tags. I did try this on a lambing course, but the lambs there were a few days old, not like our bruisers. Anyway, it went pretty smoothly and, to be honest, it didn't seem to bother the lambs at all. We did Bud first, and his first tag is the poorest but I got better with the rest. Next week, we're going to wean the lambs and move the ewes to a different field. I never see the lambs suckle now and the ewes' udders were soft when I checked them yesterday. The ewes are in pretty good condition, so I don't want them getting over fat this year.

I've been to see two ewe lambs that I am interested in buying. They are half sisters to Lyra, which will make finding an unrelated tup easier, when the time comes.

The broody hen laid an egg this morning, so I reckoned she was ready to be relieved of her mothering duties. The chicks are now nearly six weeks old and will be fine without her, but they will be in an enclosed run for a few weeks yet. They would still be easy prey for crows, magpies and other predators. Both chicks are developing black collars, like Light Sussex. I hope they are both pullets. The Warrens and the Leghorns are now fully integrated and are ranging far and wide. The Leghorns are quite flighty but the Warrens are docile birds and are a bit put upon by the Black Rocks. Fortunately, they have plenty of room to run away, if need be.

The kittens are an absolute joy. We can mostly tell which is which, but it's easier if they are both there. They've been allowed outside this week, while we're around, and have had great fun. Bertie was on top of the shed, and Harry has scaled the garage roof successfully. The ranch fencing is very popular, too, since they are small enough to get between the two layers of rails. They fascinate Tess, one of our collies, - as all young things apart from children do - and she follows them around, tail wagging. The relationship got a little strained when one of the kittens tried to muscle in on Tess's breakfast, but no harm was done. We had some torrential rain today, after a week of dry weather, and the kittens were running back and forth through the scullery door, in and out of the rain.

Tired kittens

We picked the biggest of the "Forono" beetroot today and pickled it in red wine vinegar. I like the cylindrical beets for pickling, but also grow globe ones for roasting. The sheep loved the beetroot tops - even Jura!

Forono beetroot

We ate the last of our homegrown chickens tonight, with roast "Mayan Gold" potatoes, runner beans and peas. We've got another eight Hubbards about ten weeks old now, so they will be ready for slaughter in a couple of weeks. Previous batches have been all white and very uniform in size, but this batch is a variety of colours and various sizes, so they will be ready at different times.

The "Mayan Gold" potatoes are delicious steamed but they are hopeless for boiling - one second they are fine, the next you've got a pot of potato soup. Roast, they were delicious too, but a bit strange - the skin was crispy, but the inside seemed to have evaporated. That's the last of them now, so it's on to the "ordinary" spuds now. We planted "Desiree" and "Druid" - the former is a favourite of ours, the latter is new to us. We lifted some "Druid" a couple of weeks ago and roasted them - we were well impressed. I never thought potatoes could be so fascinating!

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