Tag Archives: lambing

End of week report

It’s been a mixed week, featuring activity and idleness in equal parts. Julia and the group provided the activity whilst I did my bit by providing a large helping of idleness. I’m tempted to refer to it as sloth, having been doing some reading about the seven deadly sins, but that just makes me smile at the thought of a sloth.

(As she reads this Julia will be rolling her eyes and repeating the favourite saying of wives all over the world. Yes, it’s true. Men never really grow up.)

Julia and the group have set seeds, planted bedding, moved sheep, assisted in lambing and done various other things. As I write this she is feeding poultry after a day of wrestling with EU forms and speaking to people about their forthcoming visits to the farm.

We also called at a Care Home yesterday and did a session on herbs. It generally went well, because the smell of herbs seems to perk people up, and we are now organising a day out on the farm for the residents. It will be interesting, as a number of them are from farming backgrounds and I’m sure we’ll get some stories out of them.

Me? I’ve typed a bit (though not enough to keep up with the blog routine) and written a grant application. After that I was left with the feeling that I’d been battered round the head with a book of management doublespeak and it has taken two days for my brain to return to normal.

Other than that I have wasted time, procrastinated and searched Wikipedia for a variety of subjects, including pre-war football and the Spanish Civil War. The first was sparked by the purchase of a biography of Herbert Chapman from a discount bookshop and I’m not sure why I started with the second. I think it was because I looked up the origins of detective fiction, which led to books set in Southwold (though I don’t recall how) and thence to George Orwell.

That’s the magic of the internet.

Note: We have just found out how the chickens escaped – the Community Payback team were asked if they could help move the chickens and misinterpreted this as “let them out”. Easy mistake to make if you live in a town and have never kept chickens I suppose.

 

First Lambs

Well, I was right about the sheep being less reliable than a calendar. The first lambs (twins) came a couple of hours after the last post, though only one survived. The other one isn’t looking particularly healthy either. It’s not an upbeat way to start a post, but that’s farming for you.

That’s the problem with sheep, too much drama. Chickens will lay eggs by the hundred and pigs will pump out dozens of piglets, but ask a sheep to drop a couple of lambs and it’s like a Shakespearean tragedy. Royal babies are born with less effort.

Julia and the group collected the eggs, planted bedding and measured the micro-climate in the agroforestry project today. We’ve also been watching the Peregrine Falcons on the Nottingham Trent University webcam.

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Meanwhile I’ve offered encouragement, sent emails, done a couple of bookings, tweeted, blogged, had a neighbour in to discuss the Easter Egg Hunt, helped another with an email account and had half an hour on the phone to the NHS discussing the state of my health. They are convinced that I’m unhealthy because I’m fat, and though it’s true that I could be thinner and fitter I don’t generally feel too bad. However, by the time I’d finished with the telephone consultation I did feel a bit peaky. The NHS tends to have that effect on me.

We did establish one interesting point – I have more units of cake a week than I do of alcohol. Two biscuits is one unit. Two! I admitted to eight units a week. What has it come to when I am completely open about my smoking (gave up 15 years ago), drinking (almost none these days) and exercise (ditto) but find myself lying about my biscuit habit?

It doesn’t look like a particularly industrious day, despite the effort involved in lying about my biscuit intake. It’s certainly not, as the man from the NHS pointed out, been a day of exercise.

Now I’m going to brew tea and have a meeting, and no, I will not be having a biscuit.

 

 

The first day of Spring – again

For the second time this year we have had the first day of Spring. It was actually yesterday (Sunday 20th march) but for some reason I had the 21st stuck in my mind.

This time it’s astronomical Spring rather than an arbitrary calendar date, as it’s the time of the Spring Equinox. From now on the days will be longer than the nights. Next weekend we put the clocks forward and move onto the optimistically named British Summer Time.

Lambing starts in six days, though we had a good look at the sheep by the side of the lane this morning as they are not quite as accurate as the calendar.

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Gardening

It’s been the first day of the year we could get out in the garden and we’ve done quite a bit this afternoon. Not all of it has been structured or done well, but it’s the thought that counts and we needed the exercise. Well, I needed the exercise.

We’re still in the process of planning the vegetable garden, partly through lethargy and partly through not knowing what the plans are for next year. Hopefully we will find out in the next week or so.

 

The sheep are carrying on, with two more lambs born over the weekend. They’re not very cooperative when it comes to posing for photographs at the moment. Unfortunately we had someone walking a dog without it being on a lead – that always makes them a bit jumpy. Makes you wonder what people are thinking. Or if they are thinking.

At the moment we’re practising for the bird watch this weekend. I’m having to answer a large number of questions, including the difference between a pied wagtail and a magpie (they are both black and white with long tails, which causes confusion) and why it might be better not to sit there sniggering at the common name of Phalacrocorax aristotelis. (It’s a shag for those of you who aren’t familiar with the poem, or with juvenile humour.)

Despite what the poem says, the common cormorant is not another name for shag, and what I always thought of as the common cormorant is now the Great Cormorant (Phalacrocorax carbo). Tricky things these bird names, which is why we need the Latin names too.

The Common Cormorant

The common cormorant (or shag)
Lays eggs inside a paper bag,
The reason you will see no doubt,
Is to keep the lightning out.

But what these unobservant birds
Have failed to notice is that herds
Of wandering bears may come with buns
And steal the bags to hold the crumbs.

Christopher Isherwood

 

 

 

 

 

 

Staring at the screen in search of a title

We’ve had a productive day – collected eggs, listed, cleaned and maintained tools,  ditto for gloves (but it involves more complaining as we pair them up and work out how many we’ve lost), admired lambs, written up project folders, sharpened massive numbers of coloured pencils, looked at goats, cut back old herbs and, in my case, been generally cheerful in the face of adversity (working with a bunch of sneezing hypochondriacs can be very wearing). I am very good like that.

Then we looked at the lambs again and checked them against the standard for the Badger Face Welsh Mountain sheep. One of them definitely has the black stripe along the belly that is distinctive to the breed. It’s a bit of a mess as stripes go, but it is there. It’s neither good news or bad, but it’s human nature to enjoy finding something new.

There was a buzzard sitting on a fence post by the side of the A46 this morning, looking very spick and span. We followed that up with good sightings of 30-40 Fieldfares and 10 Redwings. There were also about 20 Jackdaws in the same field and a handful of Starlings. The next field had a couple of pairs of red-legged partridges (there’s a shoot this weekend and one in two weeks, after which they will be safe for the spring and summer). Sadly I don’t have photos of the birds, which is something I will try to address this year.

Julia is currently showing a teacher round with a view to us having a visit in February, and I am sitting staring at the screen in search of a title.

 

 

You asked for cute…

Second post of the day and it’s only lunchtime!

First we did the measurements for the Woodland Trust, despite the low temperatures. Looks like they need a bit of pruning but short arms and long pockets seem to be in charge at the moment.

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Then we took pictures of the new lambs. We have five now and, despite the dangers of stress we have moved them inside. It’s a trade off, but they’re soft lowland sheep and the snow could be a problem. So far they are all doing well.

 

Lambing starts early

We had our first lamb yesterday. We knew the accidentally pregnant ewes were near term, but weren’t quite sure. Now we know just how close. Mother and baby are doing well but they are outside and it isn’t practical to bring them in without causing additional stress so it looks like we might be lambing outside for this batch.

These are pictures from last year, most of the people shown cuddling lambs found out why farmworkers wear overalls…

That’s what happens when you buy a batch of ewes at market that have been served by a tup that escaped and passed on his genetic material two or three months early. While it’s a good thing, in evolutionary terms, for the tup at least, it’s not necessarily good for anyone else. And no, I’m not sure why we bought them, unless it’s a cunning plan to make lambing even more hard work than usual.

There are all sorts of lambing programmes when you start to look into it but “random lambing” doesn’t seem to be one of them!

You have to remember two things in analysing this, two things that could form the basis of a set of farming laws.

One, when something is going cheap at the local market there is usually a good reason for this and you should think hard before sticking your hand up. Good things seldom go cheap. Apart from chickens, but that’s a very old joke.

Two, a man is generally a farmer not because he is distinguished by intelligence, but because he is the eldest son of a man with a farm. My grandmother, who was the eldest daughter of a man with a farm, had strong views on the process. Her younger brother, on the other hand, had the farm.

 

 

 

A few numbers

It’s been a packed month. I’ve been telling people I haven’t had a proper day off for two weeks but looking back at the diary I don’t seem to have stopped all month. That’s partly due to a lack of organisational skills rather than just workload.  I really ought to make time off for my family, but when I say that at home they always tell me it isn’t necessary…

In that time we’ve hosted five school visits, a guide pack (or whatever group they come in),  two nursery visits, two college days,  two lamb days, an evening meeting, four yoga classes, two baking days, our regular Quercus days, a party and  three other events. That’s around 275 individuals, plus the people who came to eat at the cafe.

Hopefully they enjoyed themselves and some of them learnt something. Even if they didn’t they did leave us some compost so no visit is wasted.

 

 

Sausages and speakers

We have a speaker tonight at the Ecocentre – Tamara Hall, who, after a start in engineering and tailoring, runs Molesfarm Community Projects from her family farm.

On a more mundane level (which is generally where you will find me) I was thinking I needed to sort out the sausages (we will be offering refereshments tonight, and trying to sell sausages) when a man arrived brandishing money and asking for two packs of Nottinghamshire Sausages – one of our best sellers. By the time I’d finished digging to the bottom of the reserve freezer it became clear that he was going to be disappointed. However, he took two packs of the Plain Pork so that was good, and by the time I’d rearranged everything so I wouldn’t have to shift 120 packs of pork and apple burgers to get to the reserve stock next time, I’d done all the sorting I needed to do.

We’ve filled the new notice board ready for the meeting, cut back in the gardens, potted up cuttings, planted seeds and had more lambs. I’ve partly re-written the blurb for our second annual Scarecrow competition, sent some invoices, answered emails and drunk tea. Then I drank more tea. It’s good for you.

I’ll leave you with a picture – cade lambs under a heat lamp. Probably the strangest looking photo I’ve ever taken…

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And so it continues…

Reports indicate we had triplets and twins last night in the lambing shed and that the Rose family have a new granddaughter. Mother and baby doing well.

In our family we arrived at the Royal Hallamshire Hospital, expecting to bring Number Two son home from day surgery only to find they had done both jobs on his knee instead of just the one. That’s good, but the result of four hours under general anaesthetic was that he had to stay overnight. So I’m setting off for another three hour round trip in a few minutes.

It wasn’t a total waste of time because we did visit some nice farm tea rooms and spent our time in the hospital cafe planning or our 2015 events so watch this space. Big things are afoot!

We eventually got home and checked our emails to find two messages from people wanting to come to the farm with groups, so the day ended on a high.