Owl!

We have a new visitor, who has been hanging around our fields.  Hopefully it’s going to put a dent in our rodent population, but either way a wonderful sight to behold.

Sadly however I was not able to get close enough to get a decent picture, this was the best I managed…

Owl at a distance

2013 – Lamb Watch – First Arrivals!

Last week one of our Suffolks produced the first two lambs of the season!  A boy (the brown one) and a girl.  Both lambs are doing well, and definitely enjoying a frolic or two.

Several of the other ewes are looking heavy, but none has popped since.  I’d expect the rest of the Suffolks to produce in the next week or two, and then the Mules.  Still, it’s good news that Muga was clearly doing his job last September time.

Suffolk and two lambs Pretty ewe lamb at about 6 hours old!

Moving sheep around

We needed to move the Borerays out of the thin field and in to the big field.  This is because we’re about to dig the trenches for a ground source heat pump.  This magic device will use the heat in the ground to give us hot water and a warm house all through the winter (hopefully) but requires us to dig 700m of trench about 1.2m deep.  Now I’m sure the Borerays are clever enough to avoid trenches, but then I wouldn’t want to risk it, especially if they were spooked, and they certainly wont enjoy having a digger in their field.

The problem is that the big field had Muga in it, as well as the adult ewes.  We need to make sure Muga and Haan are kept separate as they will fight, especially at this time of the year, and with their horns it could have a very bad outcome.  Also in that field are Wrath and Avarice, and we needed to keep them in that field to avoid them deciding to camp out near our house to moo loudly for dinner.  While it wouldn’t bother us too much, it’s not great for our immediate neighbours.  Surprisingly, keeping them in the larger field seems to result in less mooing, possibly because they can’t see us as much.  So I had to persuade the sheep through, without being so persuasive that the cows followed.

A bucket of ruminant mix was the ticket.  I shook it and they call came through!  Hurrah thought I, but just as I was about to close the gate Lafite ran back through.  I don’t know why!  I couldn’t chase her back through, and she didn’t seem willing to come even when I backed away.  I’d also run out of feed for them.  I trudged back to the animal restaurant, loaded up with a new bucket load, and headed back out.  I was not going to be beaten by a recalcitrant Soay!

Shaking the bucket resulted in virtually all the sheep mobbing me, which was good, as it included Lafite.  In fact the only exceptions were the Suffolks who were still enjoying the remains of the first bucket I’d spread out.  Muga took the opportunity to show he loved me, by putting his head on one side and wiggling his tongue at me!  It seems to work when he does that to the ewes, but I had to explain how we just weren’t the right match, I mean there’s a species barrier and everything.  Anyway, after that heart to heart, I had to quickly jog across to close the gate, and part one was complete!  I’d left the cows in the field, and also the Soay OAPs – I figure they would rather stay where they are, and I’m sure they’ll be mutually ignored by the Borerays.

Now I just needed to get the Borerays in.  I took a bucket and they followed me the whole length of the field.  Unfortunately they weren’t quite ready to come through the gate, and were further put off when the cows decided that enough was enough and they wanted part of the feed action.  Still, I think I might get the Borerays through next time…

Pigs Poultry and Poo – another Plug!

So my book is now out, and available from all the websites, including one which was proving particularly recalcitrant.  You can buy it from Amazon – see link to the right, or direct from my publishers (who DEFINITELY have it in stock!):

http://www.crowood.com/details.asp?isbn=9781847973917&t=Pigs,-Poultry-and-Poo—An-Urbanite-Couple%27s-Journey-to-Country-Life

Lambs on holiday

As we continue our planned animal reduction the time had come for some of our lambs to go on holiday.  The day arrived, and I had a clear plan.  The majority of the sheep had already been separated, and most of the lambs were in the field with the goats.  it was easy to persuade them into the smaller fenced area with some feed.  Though one of them was particularly uninterested in being caught, even when I took it extra feed.  I decided I had enough with seventeen of them caught, and didn’t want to lose the rest by being greedy, so I closed them in.  Having got them in there I knew that it wouldn’t take me long to close down the hurdles and get them where I wanted them.

Three of the lambs had somehow got back in with the ewes and Muga.  I knew catching these would be tricky, but I hoped I could persuade them into the channel between the pigs.  In the event I nearly managed to get them all in, but failed at the last minute, and just got the larger of the three.  If it had been a boy I’d have let him go, but it was a girl.  I had caught her, but I now needed to get her into the pen with all the others.  Normally I’d carry them, but she was just a little too big, so I had to persuade her along.  I discovered that if I held her just under her front legs it seemed to tickler her and she’d struggle forward.  It meant I had to make sure I held on, but in this way I managed to get her in with the others.

By this time I was already tired, and of course it started to rain!  I had two things to do now, first I needed to replace any missing tags, which isn’t too bad, but then I had to crutch them all.  Never a lot of fun, and made worse by the rain.  It’s amazing how unhappy lambs are to have me trimming the hair right next to their sensitive areas.  Fortunately most of them had pretty clean bottoms, and we’d crutched some of the older ones earlier in the year which made it quite a bit easier.  I didn’t want to take all of them, for freezer space reasons if nothing else, but wanted to make sure we took all of the girls.  This meant we took eleven in the end, leaving only one girl, the fox-coloured one, as Alex felt it was just cruel to take her, especially as she was so small.  We managed to load them fairly quickly, and off they went to their new temporary home.

I’m expecting to hear from the butcher next week and I can decided the cuts, which will be good!

We’re now down to around 32 sheep, which is the lowest I think it’s been in four years!

Piglet pictures

I managed to get a few pictures of the piglets, and their mum.  Here’s Hacker having investigated me and deciding that I didn’t in fact have any food she stalked off:

This meant that I could get into the hut and take some photos, this is the best I managed before Hacker came back to double check on whether I really had no food..

Sir Humphrey has moved on to pastures new

A few days ago Sir Humphrey boarded a trailer to be taken to his new home (and not on holiday, it really is a new home for him!).  It was sad to see him go, especially as he’s now going to become (hopefully) a star as he’s on the front cover of my book (see link to the right).

However, he’s been awfully good at his job, and it was quite clear that he felt he was failing us.  He tried several times to get in with Gaffer and Bernard.  In fact I’d come out almost every day to find one or other of the gates on its side and Humphrey running back and forth in the alley between the pens.  I think it would only have been a matter of time before he’d got in with the other two sows.  Given how effective he has been that would have meant that we’d have had a couple more litters in the New Year, more or less the worst time from a weather perspective.  I think (hope!) that he didn’t somehow make it in with them and then get out again without us noticing.

Finding Sir Humphrey a new home was probably one of the biggest parts of our animal reduction programme, as even though he is but a single pig, he has been responsible for the production of more animals on our holdings than anyone else (though Muga isn’t THAT far behind to be honest!).  I think he’ll enjoy his new home though, and hope that his new carers get as much joy from him as we did.

Pigs, Poultry and Poo – Book Status

Ok, so Amazon says it’s temporarily out of stock.  This was due to a slight delay with the printers, but all is good now, and they should either already have the books or have them imminently, so they’ll be sending them out soon.

Of course there are other sellers who have copies, per the other options to buy, if you’re desperate to get a copy.  Click on the link to the right to be taken to the page on Amazon…

Piggies!

So we’ve managed to sell Humphrey and Hacker as part of our animal reduction plan.  Part of the sale was that hacker was in pig.  She is in pig no more… as yesterday she gave birth to approximately ten little piglets!  I haven’t managed to get a good count on them, and am trying not to disturb them too much…

I’d thought she was likely to give birth towards the end of next month, and she really wasn’t showing any signs of being that close to popping.

I’ll take pictures in due course!