Sunday 15th January 2017

Field shelter spring clean
The 4-acre field shelter had a bit of a ‘spring’ clean today – fresh straw inside and a top up of woodchip outside! All the alpacas and sheep came to investigate and the sheep stayed in anticipation of there being something in it for them: there was!! Both sheep and goats love eating fresh straw. The alpacas and cows are nowhere near as interested which is actually not a bad thing as it is meant to be their bedding! In fact, we deliberately put down extra when we freshen up the field shelters and the indoor goat stalls, knowing full well that quite a bit of it is going to be eaten.
Relaxed at Home
Our system for the sheep and goat field shelters is working really well. All of them have gateway/grass mats inside them: these are rubber mats with holes in, designed to lay on grass to stop mud developing (the grass grows up through them) but we use them inside the shelters with masses of straw on top, as this provides a warm layer off the ground but also allows for drainage. After a while, a soggy layer does build up at the bottom, although there is always a top dry layer too but when we think the bottom layer is getting too much, we scrape back the dry straw (to re-use), lift up the mats, shake the soggy layer off and then lay the mats back down again. If any of soggy layer is really poo-y, we chuck it on the compost heap, otherwise it goes back ‘under’ the grass mats and slowly starts to rot. We sprinkle a bit of lime in top before covering back up with the mats as this helps to kill off any nasty bacteria. When the field shelters stop being used, maybe late spring, we will have a good scrape out of all of them and expose the bare earth again!
In other news, we finally started to get the netting on the poultry run… it is still not finished but we are getting close. We are very excited about being able to put a mini-pond in the bottom of the run so the ducks can have a jolly good wash instead of making do with the drinkers. I guess it’s the equivalent of us only having a small sink, as opposed to a full sized bath!!