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<< November 2021 December 2021 January 2022 >>

1st: Dogs 2nd: Sheep 3rd: Poultry 4th: Rugs and Fibre 5th: Cats 6th: Rugs and Fibre 7th: Sheep 8th: Rugs and Fibre 9th: Dogs 10th: Rugs and Fibre 11th: The Land 12th: Dogs
13th: Cats 14th: Poultry 15th: Alpacas 16th: The Land 17th: Poultry 18th: Dogs 19th: Rugs and Fibre 20th: Rugs and Fibre 21st: Sheep 22nd: Poultry 23rd: Alpacas
24th: Rhea 25th: The Land
1st: Hearts Full of Love
Some days it feels our hearts aren't big enough for all the love we feel for our dogs. They nag us for walks, they fill our house with mud and leaves and bits of dead brambles, they bark and fart and roll in fox poo, they insist on just one more chuckle even though we are trying to work and are up against deadlines... But my goodness, they know when we need cuddles the most, they understand that routine and normality can get you through the day, they induce smiles and laughter simply by being and, without fail, they start each new day with joy and excitement and live it like it is their last.
Life without dogs... no thanks..
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2nd: One Hellavu Skyline
Happy stock, stunning skies, inspiring tree line - LOVE this time of year!!! AND when it come to fibre, just look at those amazing colours!!!
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3rd: Flockdown boredom busting
Flockdown boredom busting - skewered half swedes always go down well, and unlike lettuces, which are gone in 60 seconds, these last a full day!!!
Usually
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4th: Half way
The sixth and final row set is done so now all six of our ewes are represented on the latest pegloom rug. There is a brown dividing line (from Mrs Brown) and we are now starting to repeat the colours in reverse order. We just love how it's growing. Oh and the cats keep helping too by lying on it!!
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5th: Cuteness alert...
.. although Mustard is looking a little well fed methinks???
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6th: Rug commission
Exciting: five sets of alpaca fibre firsts from a customer are now being washed in preparation for some serious rug-making. There is over 8kg of fibre here in four colours: black, brown, white and fawn which will end up as 2 distinct rugs! We have been given free rein with the design and cannot wait till it is all washed, dried and spun so we can then plan the actual weaving.
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7th: Chilling in Style
Mrs White rather likes having the field shelter to herself. For the last couple of mornings, this is where we have found her. She looks so content and snug!! At the grand age of 11, we feel she is totally entitled to her creature comforts!!
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8th: Drying
The fleeces are drying well! After rinsing and a spin in the washing machine, we then teased them out and spread them in these racks hanging in the front room with the fire going. After 24 hours they are doing well and we expect them to be ready for spinning by the end of tomorrow!!!
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9th: Best buddies...
and muddy ones too...
Stonefly is definitely slowing down a bit and sleeping/ resting more!! She is now on the post 6-weeks countdown when food-intake increases and daily worming starts. We also need to start preparing the front room to accommodate the whelping box and run!! This means moving one of the looms upstairs!! We wonder how much weaving and spinning will actually happen once the puppies are born.. hmmmm????
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10th: Beautiful batts
We have been carding alpaca fibre today and producing batts that show the full range of our colours. The softness of these fibres is just amazing, they are silky smooth and utterly gorgeous to touch. These batts will be for sale soon from our etsy shop
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11th: Mud
The mud is now starting!! BUT, with 29 sets of legs all over it, we are currently surprised that the entrance to what we are still calling the 'cow shed' is as good as it is!! Having three available shelters for the sheep and alpacas helps to spread the load for sure. Nonetheless, we are pretty sure it will all get worse before it gets better!!
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12th: Patience
Dragonfly, who has the best 'sit and wait' in the world, proving that patience does reward you in the end!!
Whilst the cats find that persistence 'may' just get you what you want too....'
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13th: Cat in a Box
The utter classic: Cat in a Box - super cute Mustard!!
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14th: The return of the colours
They may not be laying much just now, our lovely Flockdown birds, but they are starting to give us these amazing colours again. We have over 20 potential layers and numbers range from 1 to 4 eggs a day but when they look this pretty, we do kind of forgive them...
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15th: Eating Habits!
They don't have the most elegant of eating habits, our alpacas - alpacas in general really - but they are always so happy to tell you all about it and so grateful for their fresh bales of hay!!
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16th: Underground streams
It may be dry at the moment, we have had no real rain for almost a week, but the water still pours off the fields above us on a daily basis. This hole, a few cms wide and deep, has opened up to reveal the constant flow of water that runs undisturbed below the grass in Oak Field. We cannot imagine this will dry up any time soon, helped no doubt by the natural spring further up that feeds our well!! We are very grateful for all this water really, it may lead to muddy patches in the winter but our IBC tanks remain full and our spring/summer grass lush!! We never have to take water into our fields for our animals to drink!
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17th: Flockdown - week three
The birds are loving the extra straw they get, the veg, the corn they have to work hard to find.... and there is no doubt we are enjoying the fact the poultry paddock is mud free, but still.... it is a bit sad that the highlight of their day is a fresh straw bale and a hanging lettuce or two. Still, they are all fairly fit and healthy (touch wood) and we are also very lucky not to be in an area that is being badly hit just now by outbreaks of Avian Flu - it really is a very very bad year for it and my heart goes out to all those owners who, on a daily basis, are losing their birds!
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18th: Whelping Box Intro
Seventeen months apart: different dogs, different people, same conversation, same imminent event. Looks as though Roxy was listening well as David explained what was going to happen. Stonefly on the other hand has no real idea why she has been invited into this strange box.. .. she soon will
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19th: Latest rug
Latest rug, this one is a commission. Wish we could convey just how amazingly soft this alpaca fibre is - we just love the depth and shininess of the black. Next comes a brilliant white
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20th: The process of making a rug
From sorting, picking out the VM, washing, drying, spinning, weaving to…. cutting free from the loom, tying off those ends and making your fringe. We love this part (well, we love all of it)… This type of finishing is a particular favourite: two rows of half knots (a Damascus edge) followed by a triple knot fringe.
One peg loomer lady we follow said she hates detailed fringes as they get stuck in the hoover!!! Our reaction to that?? Easy peasy, don’t hoover.
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21st: Afternoon Feed
Waiting for their late afternoon feed!! Love winter feeding - it's a chance to get up a bit close and personal, make sure they are all filling up at the feed troughs and check a few body conditions. We don't have any pregnant stock this year so as long as they all grab a few mouthfuls of their grain each day, they should be okay on just hay the rest of the time. Some are naturally a bit greedier than others of course, naming no names Neptune!!
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22nd: More veg
Somewhere in amongst all this lot are several cucumbers and squash - although we think actually, by the time we got the camera out they had all but been demolished...
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23rd: The tastiest bits
The tastiest morsels of hay are of course in the most inaccessible places and everyone wants to get to them first...
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24th: Red sky
The sky literally was on fire tonight but it isn't 'shepherd's delight' for the morning if the forecast is to be believed!
On another, sadder note, we are considering the idea of stopping keeping rhea! Our two breeding seasons have not been successful and we are not sure we want to go through the heartache of a third. And if we don't breed, we will then have the issue of what to do with all those eggs! Plus as the fibre part of our smallholding activities gains momentum, we would perhaps rather put our energies more and more into developing our weaving and spinning skills.
It's always a tough call deciding to no longer continue with a part of the smallholding journey - no matter how good the reasons, there will always be a slight sense of failure!!
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25th: A very soggy Christmas Day
Well, we were promised rain, but there was also the suggestion of a bit of sunshine too!!! The promise bit came off, the suggestion part was a whopper of a lie. It rained all day today, at one point we even wondered whether all 29 sheep and alpacas would attempt to fit into one shelter!!! We are consoling ourselves with the thought that come the spring (only three months away...), we will have the greenest, lushest grass!!! (We better!!)
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