Relaxed at home
Relaxed at home
Relaxed at home
Relaxed at home
Relaxed at home
Relaxed at home

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1st: Willow trimmings: always a hit with the goats.
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2nd: Goslings out in the grass run for the first time, 2 weeks old.
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3rd: A stonking ewe lamb for Mrs White - first time she has given us a single since she was a shearling back in 2012.
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4th: 22 eggs in White Toe's nest, four more than this time last week, and a whopping 10 in Beta's nest, five more than a week ago.
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5th: Loving the developing colours of the ducklings, now just over five weeks old. It is fairly obvious that our Lavendar male 'performed; before we sold him!!!
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6th: A bleak day: Mrs Brown is NOT in lamb (why?), the goat FECs show a high worm count and one of the rhea eggs in White Toe's nest has been broken...
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7th: We have a group of four red deer in John's crop field that are putting in an appearance every evening. The stag's bark is an extraordinary sound (that drives the dogs mad!!!)
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8th: More running away... this time, a white male chasing White Toe. Question: is White Toe running away to deliberately lure the other bird away from his nest or is he running away because he is being chased?? We have had a couple more broken eggs???
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9th: May is proving pretty warm and dry and we are already bemoaning the lack of rain (!!) BUT we are rather delighted to realise that we don't seem to have lost any of our Ash trees to Ash Dieback - despite how they looked last month.
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10th: The veg plot is really starting to take shape: today we planted runner beans, mange tout, peas, dwarf beans and sprouts. The fruit area is all looking okay still and five of the 12 raspberry canes have new shoots/ growth! (Just need rain.)
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11th: The dogs flushed up a pheasant from our middle hedgeline today and when we went to look, we spied 13 eggs in a nest right next to the stock fencing. On the basis that even if she does come back, the dogs will scare her again, we collected the eggs and 11 are now in our incubator (2 were cracked) cos we so need more birds!!!!
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12th: Our Bronze X turkey has proved to be a great success as a first time mum. She had 11 eggs, nine turned out to be fertile and she has hatched seven of them. They spent their first night under her in the next box and today we moved them to the rat-proof aviary. Watching her step gently around them was a total joy!
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13th: The geese have not proved to be good mums. Margo sat on and off her eggs for weeks until we took them away. Barbara and Penelope here ending up nest sharing and have so far produced just one male who they threw out of the nest before he was even dry - they have 4 eggs still that still seem sound - but we will see...
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14th: The turkey eggs in the incubator began hatching last night and so far we have 15 poults from 24 fertile eggs, with more pipping. This is looking like a hugely successful hatch, following a fabulous fertlity rate of between 80% and 90% from this year's eggs. And they really are a chocolate box of colours!!
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15th: An idea has been forming... we are wondering about getting a couple of rescue ponies!! With no cows, the smallholding now back to being a 'hobby' and with both the indoor and outdoor space we have, it seems as though they would be a great addition - AND they might even help to do a bit of worm clearance after the goats!!!
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16th: Meet Barrington (R) and Bruno (L) : our new Anglo Nubian billy and his sidekick brother! They are now officially living on the Relaxed smallholding and we are expecting great things. They will spend a day or so inside to get used to not being with their original herd and then we will start to introduce them to our lot!!!
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17th: Goslings are just amazing - this is our billy-no-mates, hatched in Barbara and Felcity's nest but 'rescued' as they seemed to have zero idea they were meant to be looking after him. He is a week old and now the proud 'dad' of our 20 plus turkey poults with whom he is sharing our 'shower' broody area. We have daily cuddle times just to tell him how special he is.
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18th: Shearing day!! And we have to say, thanks to the care and expertise of Sara and Aaron Cartright, all went swimmingly. The sheep all sheared really well and the lambs worked out who was mum pretty quickly (although it took Miss Muckle a little while longer than the rest). The alpacas looked faintly ridiculous as usual and Neptune apparently just did not want to get back up, even when he was untied!!!
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18th: Shearing day 2 - just to show that the sheep don't look quite as ridiculous as the alpacas with Bressay (left) showing a better body condition than Whalsay due to the fact she is not lactating!!! (But Whalsay isn't bad considering she is.) Watching Aaron shear these was a joy, the fleece was really well risen as the blades slid through with no resistance at all. And we of course now have more fleeces to card!!!
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19th: This is a very stressed rhea!! It is our white female who having been moved yesterday (along with the grey girls and all the white boys) into a different field to the nesting males, then appeared wobbly with strained breathing this morning. We examined her (David has the bruises to prove it) and talked to the vet. And the cause? We all deduced it was down to a rather too amerous mating. She was fine by the afternoon!!!
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20th: After months (literally) of thinking we finally have decided how best to 'streamline' our goat herd: the plan is to have just four (ish) goats that we can milk and so hopefully get back into cheese making - AND less stock will mean less worms contaminating the ground. This means Onion here, probably our healthiest, least probalamatic goat will be put up for sale, alomg with her three kids. Cue a very sad emoji!!!!!
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21st: A scene that made us smile as soon as we saw it. What are they all looking at? All that is except Mercury, oblivious to whatever entertainment is capturing the looks of all the others - oh, and the lamb with its head stuck through the fence!! It is wonderfful that different species can share in this way. Sights like this, for us, sum up all that is wonderful about being smallholders.
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22nd: Despite the terrible lack of rain, the veg plot is starting to sprout!! Today we saw the first signs of emerging peas and sprouts and back on the 18th, the onions started to show. As things start to get bigger, we will of course need to begin regular watering because the long term forecast is still just endless, endless sun.
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22nd: The soft fruit is also doing well. To date, nine of the twelve raspberry canes have started to produce shoots and the loganberries and blackberries that arrived in leaf, have settled in really well. The blueberries which we transplanted from the greehouse are also producing new shoots. It's all very encouraging so far!!!
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23rd: The grass of course is always greener, even when, as in this case, it patently isn't!!!
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24th: Seven pheasant poults now fill the incubator with an eighth looking promising! They are lively and fast, rather like large versions of the quail we used to keep!
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25th: Super turkey mum (she who is yet to be named) introduced her poults to blue sky, sunshine and green grass today. At 15 days old, they are now very bonded and pretty sturdy and we hope will stay safe and near mum. It's always nerve wracking letting them out for the first time but we belive free ranging as soon as they can, is the best way for young birds to develop.
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26th: An amazing day.... today I (Jack) drove over to Sampford Spinney on Dartmoor and met three ponies who, in a few weeks time will be coming to live on the Relaxed Smallholding!!! Eleanor Paddock from Hitch N' Ride put us in touch with Jo Ellis from The Friends of Dartmoor Hill Ponies and after a great phone call, a few PMs and a look at our blog, we were invited to go over and meet this chap, his mum and an 'auntie'... cont/
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26th/ cont: The stunning grey mare below was the one I fell in love with straight away as she was happy to come over and have a sniff and allow me to give her a gentle stroke and scratch of her face and neck. She is an absolute sweetheart and a stunning colour as well. They have all been doing some conservation grazing but after just a week or so in their current fields under Jo's care, she is already getting tame...cont/
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26th/ cont: The beautiful bay below is the foal's mum. I didn't get so close to her: she was too busy protecting her foal and eating but along with the grey mare, she has had basic handling and halter training so hopefully we can build on that. I am beyond excited that I am to become the owner of these beautiful animals. Our smallholding is changing and in a way is less about what the animals can give us and more about what we can give them!!! cont/
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26th/ cont: And to round off today's major news, this is a slowworm: rescued from the paws and teeth of Salt and Chilli this morning. To be fair to the cats (killing machines that they can be), they had actually lost interest in it - playing dead was obviously a good strategy. We were then rewarded with a moving body which slowly curved around our fingers (they are so smooth and surprisingly warm). It also flicked its tongue out several times, their way of picking up scents. After a few photos, we got the pleasure of watching it slither away through the long grass, out of sight, and in the case of the cats, hopefully out of mind too.
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27th: Sometimes, it is possible to capture the complete 'newness' of young animals, their innocence and neatness, their wonder at the world, the look that is just waiting to see all that this new life has to offer (all of it good we hope)!!! This is a turkey poult, two days old and one of fourteen hatched under our fabulous turkey mum, Napoleona. The best part was when we put a dog cage in front of her nest box with feed and water and after a day she carefully walked her poults into it, meaning we could then carry the cage straight into the safety of the broody area and leave the door open (far less stressful than having to collect them all up and carry them through).
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28th: Our first rheaa chick!!! Found mid evening outside dad's nest: cold, some minor injuries on its back, eyes swollen and barely open, hardly moving!!!! Three hours in the Stanley range and a night under a heat lamp will hopefully ensure it is still alive in the morning but we are worried. The other weird thing (aside from dad rather annoyingly chucking it out of the nest), is why this chick has hatched in the first place. cont/
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28th: cont/. The last eggs to be laid in this nest were 12th May. At THAT point dad (Alpha male: White Toe, below), should have started incubating, given us a hatching perod starting around 16th June. As today is only 28th May, this rather suggests that incubation started before 30th April... We need to somehow work out how to candle the rest of the eggs and work out what is going on?
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29th: So rhea chick one is still with us and now we have our second and third rhea chicks!!! And aside from yet more weird incubating and hatching timings, dad number two (Beta male, yet to be properly named) has proved to be a much better dad than White Toe and has given us one white and one grey chick, both healthy and strong.
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29th: It has been remarkable to see the phenominal size difference between between chicks and dad and to realise how much these birds have to grow to be adult. Everything about them is fascinating and endearing and also nerve wracking as we now get to see how well dad looks after them in our vast three acre field.
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30th: Another surprise this morning as Beta male revealed another chick under him, a second grey!! He is still sitting on the remaining eggs mind you even though some are not due to hatch (potentially) for several weeks.. tomorrow we may need to remove them all so he can concentrate on being a dad!!! We are mega chuffed with this trio we have to say!!
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31st: House rhea is doing well, she is now regularly standing up and whilst we are still syringing water and trickling crumbs into her, we feel she must be taking some food and water on her own too. We put a couple of trukey poults with him as company and to encourage her to eat. Not sure it is working - the poults themslves are a tad stressed sadly!!!
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