Monday, 17 October 2016

Last harvest of the year........

We now have seven ewes and one ram. A week ago we had fifteen ewes plus their lambs, and one ram. The difference in the numbers between then and now is because we have now put eight of this years lambs into the freezer. We did two a day, but spread the work over two days for each two sheep. It was tough going. Not our most favourite task to do, but it had to be done if we are to have enough grazing for everyone this winter. We were going to put ten in the freezers, but we ran out of steam with the effort of it all.

It is not that it is dreadfully hard work, but working with innards and things does tend to sit on the mind after a while, which is why our minds could only manage eight. But I like that we are sensitive to the task we are involved with, as it stops us from being hard hearted, and helps us feel respectful to the animal who we have come to know over the previous few months. All the lambs were nearly a year old, and would have lambs themselves next Spring, which is why it was urgent to get the flock numbers down now.

But the job is done and the freezers are full, so my task this winter is to get as much of the meat canned as possible. Finally, after eight years of working to get a functioning house and smallholding up and running, it would seem that we are starting to get into the rhythm of farm life. It is a priceless way of life, but perhaps not for the faint hearted, especially if you are also providing your own meat.

Short sleeved t-shirt on today as I went out and about scything here and there in the lovely warm sunshine. Then some spinning. Then some patchwork. And all outside. Some people have had their wood burning fires on in the evening, but our house seems to be holding its heat, and anyway, our training with coping with cold weather when we were living in a caravan when we first arrived here tends to encourage us keep putting on warm clothing before we get fires lit.

Last task of the year in regards to the animals is getting the two adult pigs dispatched. With no signs of piglets at all after over a year of them being together we cannot but presume that they have finished procreating, which is not good seeing as how they are the most expensive animals to keep here. We have to watch the budget. The pigs can't be thought of as pets. So, just waiting for inspiration as to what to do with them. Either way, this will be another one of those heart string pulls, especially for Lester, who is very bonded to his Tamworth pigs. Ah well, c'est la vie.

Off to visit Lester in the cow barn. He has started milking Lissie in the evenings although Milly is still with her mum all the time, so two to three litres per milking at the moment. I am too busy with getting the recent meat harvest processed so don't have time to make cheese, so this is enough milk for us for the time being.

Bye for now.

Friday, 14 October 2016

He? No 'She'.......

So what do you do when this little one arrives.....
...... just born, still damp, still dazed by the world.....
but it is a male calf, what do you do?
Well immediately your mind shifts gear, because he cannot be sold or kept here,
because we could never manage the energy of a bull in full rut.
It's enough to have a ram and a boar when they have testosterone streaming through them,
but a rampant full sized
So his eventual destiny is to provide us with beef.
But then 'he' changed his destiny himself,
because Lester must have misread the geography of his undercarriage,
this being brought to his attention when the calf squatted to go to wee.
A male calf would stand upright to wee.
A female calf will bend her back legs into a squat.
This he she did in front of Lester as he was ushering her out into the field with her mum.
So no beef for us next year, but a little female cow,
who may be sold on, or perhaps may stay here.
As I was watching her come into the barn yesterday,
the name 'Millicent' arrived in my head,
so 'Milly' it is.

And here she is trying to get up on all fours for the first time.
Lissie's udders were expanded beyond what we thought was good for them,
so Lester drew off a few litres of milk to take the pressure off.
Lester said that Milly was most intrigued.
Said that she was almost cross eyed with wonder about what the hell he was doing to the teats which she was previously drinking from!
Bye for now,

Wednesday, 5 October 2016

Not doing, just dawdling......

So here is the front drive, looking quite tidy, apart from the heap of hay bales. The first heap is where the hut for selling our home grown produce is going to be. Lester will move the bales when we get nearer to the time of getting the hut assembled if they have not been used up meanwhile.

And here is the other side of the drive, with the rampant bay tree / shrub on the right, followed by general bits and pieces of hedge along the rest of the drive, including brambles, wild roses, and blackthorn, all of which looks very overgrown and untidy. Knowing that we need to get the place presentable if we are to hopefully be able to sell our veg next year, it has become my mission to get that hedge under control. At one time I was going to pull it up and plant flowering shrubs, but I have come to recognize what a silly idea that is, and that perhaps to cut the hedge down to half height, and trim in back to half width, might be a far more sensible option to take. And yesterday was to be the start of that project.
However.....well, it was not my fault, because for the last few days it has felt very much like Spring has arrived, which has encouraged the birds to sing at full voice, and encouraged a sense in me of needing to stop and enjoy this delightful weather while we still have it. I was also waiting for Lester to come back from the two year inspection of our old black Mercedes, and so this is what I was doing.....

.... at least I had sharpened my scythe even if I was not actually using it, and at least I was thinking about what I ought to be doing even if I wasn't doing it.
And then Lester arrived home with the news that the Merc was now to be no more, after it had horrendously failed the inspection. We had expected it. But now we urgently needed to find another car, but not from the UK as originally planned but locally. By the end of the day we had settled on a little two seater Renault Kango van, which had shelves in the back so we could take produce to the local market if we needed to. This is not something we want to do, but we have to keep our options open as to where we can sell our produce, and we thought the shelves would be very handy if we needed to do that. The van is much more appropriate for trainee market gardeners, rather than a tatty old beaten up Mercedes.
The van is very small, cosy, and cute. It will do.
Meanwhile, nothing much done here again today other than sorting out the paperwork for the van and then having a really super lunch to celebrate the outlay of yet another chunk of money! And then back home for a nap to recover from the nervous energy we have had as we endlessly discussed what the hell we were going to do about getting another car. Hopefully I shall be scything tomorrow.
Bye for now,