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Relaxed at home
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1st: Poultry 2nd: The Land 3rd: Fruit and Veg 4th: Sheep 5th: Fruit and Veg 6th: Sheep 8th: Sheep 9th: Sheep 10th: The Land 11th: Sheep
12th: Sheep 13th: Goats 14th: Sheep 15th: Sheep 16th Poultry 17th: Sheep 18th: Sheep 19th: Dogs 20th: Dogs
21st: Cats 22nd: Sheep 23rd: Rhea 25th: Cats 26th: The Land 27th: Poultry 28th: Dogs and Cats 29th: Poultry 30th: Poultry
1st: Freedom
After four long months, the poultry are finally allowed to free range again. We have some very,very happy birds - the Muscovies announcing their delight the loudest, whilst the turkeys headed for their favourite dust bathing area and the chickens for the compost heap. Oh my goodness, how we loved seeing them back in their paddock.
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2nd: Ticking off the To Do list
As the land gets drier and drier, we are starting to be able to get round the fields with the quad and trailer and do a lot of the tidying jobs that have been on hold over the winter. Today we cleared all the fallen and cut trees from the bottom of Oak and Goat fields, taking the smaller branches up to the barn to turn into woodchip. The bigger pieces were left blocking gaps under the fence where a certain 8-month old puppy has learnt to escape! Once Mike is finally able to replace the fencing (fingers crossed this spring), they will then be collected to chop and store for firewood. It is a great feeling to use wood from our own land as fuel and despite not having any actual woodland, it is amazing how much we have had over the years, purely from the garden and hedgelines!! As ever, our quad and land trailer were the perfect tools for the job!
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3rd: Almost ready
Today we managed to brush cut and strim the remaining two allotment beds. Now all that remains to do is top the whole area and then we can start thinking about planting. It's a bit early for seeds still but we hope to get the potatoes and onions in soon. We are keeping an eye on the weather as last night we had a mild frost and we may get a few more next week. There is no rush to get things in at the moment but it's nice to know we will be ready when the time comes.
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4th: STILL no lambs
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5th: Ready
We are now all systems go on the allotment as this afternoon we strimmed and topped round all the beds and fruit bushes/trees. It is now a question of waiting for slightly warmer weather. This coming week we have frosts and much colder daytime temperatures than normal, so we will wait a bit before we plant the potatoes and onions. We are mega mega excited about what we hope this plot will produce this year!!!
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6th: We have lambs
We have lambs - it's been a wait and seven quarters. Patch, our Jacob ram from Lisa V Hutchins, was introduced to the ewes back on 27 Oct.. IF he had mated with any of them on that day and IF they had then given birth bang on day 145, we could have had lambs back on 21st March. It is now 17 days later so I guess he and they were a little bit later.... Still, all good things come to those who wait and we couldn't be happier: one of each for the amazing Mrs Brown, now in her eleventh year. The ewe lamb will be a keeper and with that face (with white on it), she is already irresistible!!!
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8th: More lambs
There's no stopping them now, Mrs White has now lambed (just as well as she did her best to steal one of Mrs Brown's the day before yesterday!!!). A bit of help needed as the ram lamb had his front right leg bent behind his shoulder and the ewe lamb was a breech. But a nice slack back end, plenty of lube and between us and the Mrs W, we got there in the end!! Rather loving these jet black babies with their white crowns...
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9th: Yet more
Today was Bressay's turn and she has given us a single ewe lamb: we found them late pm with the lamb up and dry and obviously having drunk. Bressay has one huge side and one not so - the lamb is taking from the not so but hopefully she will take from both eventually and so even things up a bit!!
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10th: Stunning
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11th: Lambing fun and games
Last night Muckle gave birth to a large ram lamb and a teeny ewe lamb - she all but rejected the ewe lamb so first thing this morning as Whalsay gave birth, also to twins, but one sadly DOA, we tried to foster poor Miss Rejected onto her. That didn't work so now we have the job of bottle feeding a teeny baby who seems to be well, but is possibly not in the greatest of health. We shall see - she is however, mega cute!!
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12th: More bottle babies
Yesterday, I asked on FB if anyone had any orphan lambs I could buy to be pals to Muckle's ewe lamb as we didn't want her growing up on her own. Today we picked up these two Shetland/ Teeswater Longwool crosses who will make a great addition to our wool flock - hopefully. Sadly though, our teeny ewe lamb didn't make it, leaving us very glad we got these two as opposed to just one!! Sadness and joy - another typical smallholding day.
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13th: Stunner
This boy is a stunner - no wonder he got snapped up so quickly!!!
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14th: Solutions that work - NOT!!!
As you can see, the wall of straw is doing a great job of keeping the bottle babies inside their stall. Love it when simple solutions work - NOT!!
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15th: Still waiting
Ness STILL hasn't lambed. It is now 170 days since the ram began to have his wicked way - either Ness is VERY late or she played hard to get for a while OR, most likely, a bit of both!! Come on Ness, get a move on girlie....
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16th: Gucklings
Grass, sunshine and the Gucklings (or Doslings): a winning combination. Love this little (not so anymore) trio.
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17th: At last
Late last Ness gave birth to a single ewe lamb and then when we checked her this morning, there was a ram lamb too!! Both strong, of a similar size and drinking away. They really don't need us at all these Shetlands!!!
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18th: Spring evening
Bottle-fed lambs, great friends and sunshine - not a bad way to spend a lovely spring evening!!!
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19th: Setters, setters everywhere
Sparrow flanked by the two boys: Buzzard and Firefly. She is in season and in the most amazing twist of timings, when she started (last week) she was EXACTLY the same age as Roxy when she had her first one: 8 months and 12 days!!!! Stonefly is also in season so tomorrow we will be taking her up to Kate and Gerald's to meet Jack, and have a bit of a honeymoon. The thought of having a litter of Irish in a couple of months is beyond exciting!!!
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20th: Honeymoon time!
And so today we took Stonefly to her honeymoon destination - this is her suitor for the next few days - rather wonderfully called Jack - he is a handsome fella!! Fingers crossed!!
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21st: Mustard
We seem to have acquired another kitten!!! A friend, Katherine, messaged last week with the fateful phrase: 'You don't want another kitten do you?'. We didn't but one look at her enclosed photo, suggested that actually we did! Mustard as she is now known, was a single kitten born to a feral cat who decided to give birth in a garden belonging to someone Katherine knows. This was not, apparently the first time! We are rather chuffed to have a new kitten in the house - and of course she needs a pal now!!!
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22nd: Chips
It seems to be our week for 'acquiring' animals. Meet Chips: a rejected Hebridian lamb whose owner, due herself to give birth any day now, couldn't really take on an orphan lamb. We have two, we thought - an extra one is 'no bother'!! She is younger than Chalk and Cheese by just under three weeks but hopefully once settled, she will become the cute younger sister. She is, after all, as cute as Chips!!!!
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23rd: Fingers crossed
It's been a while since we mentioned the rhea. Egg laying is going well, some days like today, we get three in one day. The first batch of 10 all proved infertile but the latest set of 10 to go in the incubator have given us 6 fertile ones so we are keeping everything crossed. As the picture shows, the two greys are nest sharing but as we are currently taking all the eggs away each day, this isn't an issue at the moment. We just hope that if we do get any hatching, we don't then experience the same level of losses we did last year!
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25th: Welcome Pickle
And here is Mustard's new room-mate: picked up today from a family in Exeter. As you can see they aren't getting on at all!!!
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26th: Rain needed
Today we moved the sheep and alpacas back to Fruit Field. It doesn't have any more grass than Swallow Field but it is way less poo-ey as it has had a few weeks' rest. We so need rain to wash the poo in and get the grass growing. Thanks goodness we still have loads of hay because they are all still eating it and are set to need it for some time to come.
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27th: Berry
We won't be breeding our Muscovies this year we said. We will collect all duck eggs every day and give them to the dogs....We won't allow any of our females to creep off and lay in an un-get-able place at the back of the barn behind 59 straw bales that we cannot possibly access without triggering a health and safety alert... Yeah right! This is Berry - ducklings due on Sunday - only around 15 or so eggs in the nest...
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28th: Dogs and Cats
We have built a small playpen for the kittens so they can start to come downstairs and get used to the dogs, and of course vice versa! In a few days we will then start to let them out for supervised runarounds and see how they get on!!! As you can see, the Gordons are being their usual attentive selves!!!
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29th: And here they are...
Four days early and 13 ducklings are now wandering round the barn.
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30th: Gucklings
We set up a large run outside the broody stall as we did last year, and so today the gucklings are spending time outside in a much larger area than the small wooden one we had been using. Tom kept an eye - though not for long as he and the girls are off to their new home at the weekend - all part of 'Operation Scaling Back'! These three we may well keep though as it looks as though the ducks are female (fingers crossed) - not that we want the gander mating with them next year mind you!!
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