Tag Archives: sheep

Some Pictures of Slaidburn

There were plenty of sheep about, as you would guess, plus a nice car park with toilets (because it’s a great centre for walkers. There was also a large gathering of Starlings and crows – mainly Jackdaws and a Blue Tit flitting about.


It’s a lovely village in the right weather, though I’d hate to live here on a miserable grey day. I often think about that when thinking of my family working on farms round here, with rain and woollen clothing. They must have hated Autumn and Winter.

The pub in the pictures is the Hark to Bounty. In the late 19th century it was run by William Stead – blacksmith and innkeeper. He was there in 1871, married to my great-grandmother’s aunt, and died in 1893, leaving £808, which was good money in those days. In 1871 my grandmother was working for them, having come from Leyburn, about50 miles away. That’s presumably how she met my great-grandfather.





What we did on our holidays

You can tell it’s holiday time because the roads are clear, the travelling is easier and there are groups of teachers wandering about dressed as ramblers.

So what did we do on our holiday?

Well, we started by looking at the new bantams and chicks to ensure they were OK.

Sadly there was a dead lamb in the barn. It had been found last night by a group of ramblers, having stuck its head through the sheep netting and then threaded it back through an adjacent square. You couldn’t do it if you tried. In the subsequent panic it strangled itself.

No you couldn’t make it up if you tried. The Farmer had been forced to cut the fence to remove it. That was how tight it had managed to wedge itself in.

Now, I don’t like losing animals at the best of times, and I certainly don’t like losing them to accidents, but this was so random that it is hard to see what we could have done differently.

My first job was to check the incubator and then to look up what a flashing “P” meant. Twenty minutes later I established it was a warning that it had lost power at some point. To be more precise, it had lost power when I unplugged it and moved it. So that was 20 minutes well spent.


It stands for “Power”

Once everyone had arrived we had a good handling session with the new bantams and altered the housing arrangements for the chicks.

We collected eggs, fed the chickens, did a census of the (heat stress has seen a few of the old ladies off recently) and harvested cabbages. We planted Brussels Sprouts (or nobby greens as they are known in Nottingham), made lavender decorations, twisted corn dollies, showed two groups of visitors around (I keep hoping one of them will be an eccentric and generous millionaire). Julia brought what I thought was a small and tender beetroot in from the garden (I say tender but I have no intention of ever eating beetroot). It turned out to be a radish the size of a golf ball and I suspect it will be both woody and fiery to eat.

We also added more photos to the individual pages and did quite a bit of butterfly counting. (You may already have noticed that.)

And we brought the sun-dried peppers out of the polytunnel.

I think that’s all.

Now all we need to do is get the shopping list ready for tomorrow, get set up for yoga, prepare the kitchen.

Number Two son had a broken tooth extracted this afternoon. I wouldn’t normally bring domestic trivia to the blog, but I had to after asking him what time his appointment was.

Yes, it was two-thirty (tooth hurty – the classic joke time!). I tried not to laugh when he told  me.

It’s going to be a bundle of laughs tonight, me trying to suppress my mirth, Julia being motherly and him drinking his evening meal through a straw.


What do you say?

One of the parents said: “They’re very excited about this visit.”

You could tell that from the fact they were milling about looking at everything and chattering. It was clear that this wasn’t going to be a night for reflection and following instructions, and although I had all the stuff ready for toasting marshmallows it was also clear that it wasn’t a night for naked flames!

If they ever come back I’m going to be sure to pack a rugby ball and my whistle plus some maps and compasses. As it was, we did think about running them round the farm but it started to rain. So it was visit the sheep, visit the chicks and keets, look at the young goats in their new field (they aren’t happy at being taken away from their mothers), view the guinea fowl doing impersonations of vultures, strain to see the geese (who had taken up a position at the back of the field) and go back to the centre.

Julia set them going on making folded paper animals (Orifarmi, as LEAF call them) and I set up the butter-making, which is generally enough to sap the energy from the most energetic of small people. It just about worked. We are getting more cunning as time goes on.

In amongst the frenetic effort there were quite a few questions to field too – about the building, farming and animals. Even whilst running about they didn’t miss much, and you need to be on top of your game .

It’s nice seeing all this youthful enthusiasm but I wouldn’t want to have to try and direct it every week. I really don’t know how their leaders do it.

I’m off home now – not sure what awaits us as the kids are cooking the evening meal. I suspect it will feature chicken, vegetables and salad. I’m sure it’s healthy and wholesome, but it’s not food as I know it.

(It turned out to be sausages in baguettes, with red onions and barbecue sauce and chips and a modest salad on the side.)


A question of character

We will shortly be ensuring ourselves a lively few days. It’s time for the goats to go outside again and this time they are going in one of the pens at the top of the allotment area. Based on previous years this means we’re going to be doing a regular amount of goat chasing, as they seem to find it easy to escape from, and quite a lot of extracting heads from fences. For some reason the size of the mesh in the fence is a perfect match for a goat’s head going forwards. When you try to get them out backwards it’s a different matter. With  a recalcitrant goat and a set of backward facing horns it isn’t an easy job, though blindfolding them with a handkerchief seems to make it easier for some reason.

We’ve now had over 160 lambs so we’re a touch over halfway through. That’s good because there’s only so much cuteness you can take, plus there is a limit to good humour when people keep knocking on the door asking if they can look at the lambs.

My favourite farm animals are the guinea fowl, followed by goats, and pigs. It’s based on character. Chickens I can take or leave. Sheep?  No comment.

Lots of people like sheep.

Then again, lots of people like reality TV.

No judgement, just saying…




The Egg and Spoon Race

After moving sheep and collecting eggs we had a talk about compost, aided and abetted by Farmer Ted the agricultural bear. We like compost. Well, to be accurate, we like composting. We’re not too fussed about actually spreading it because it seems like a waste.

If I could incorporate it into a recipe I’d be happy, as well made moist compost always reminds me of a nice, rich Christmas cake, and the drier sort reminds me of Grape Nuts, but I suspect I’m in a minority.

We then went on to the Easter Egg and Spoon Race Championship, where there seemed to be a lot of winners. I suspect political correctness was at work here. Even I was allowed a share of the chocolate (though I only had a modest portion) despite allegations of cheating. As you can see from the photographs, the diet has a long way to go so a few grams of chocolate isn’t going to do much damage.

For the record I took part in three races, being disqualified from each one (obstruction, shirt pulling and use of sellotape). Strikes me that people just don’t take Egg and Spoon racing seriously enough.

A plan comes together

It’s a busy day today and everywhere seems crowded, we even had three buzzards wheeling over the sheep field when we stopped to look at the ewes this morning. I managed to get some sheep photos but the effort of capturing tiny specks with no viewfinder was too much for me. Nice picture of clouds in a bright blue sky, but little else.

We’ve had a bit of a sheep-based day for Quercus, with felted sheep and sheep lollies. In the morning we had a college visit again, and they completed the work on the goats and bedded the pigs. No electric fences today!

Both groups are now moving chickens to the new accommodation that has been repaired by Men in Sheds. They are going to be out on the fields, though we will have to keep an eye out for high winds as I’m not sure how stable the new coops are.

I love a day like this – when everything falls into place like a well made plan. Derelict chicken coops resurrected by Men in Sheds providing work experience for animal care students and an activity for our group. At times like this I feel like we are really getting somewhere, but at the back of my mind I always find that thought about what is going to go wrong next…

A puppy comes to visit…

We had a visitor this morning, looking considerably larger and less puppyish than she did a couple of weeks ago. After that it was all doomed to be an anti-climax.

The sick ewe died (we think it was twin lamb disease), despite us dosing her with the appropriate drench. The worst thing about twin lamb disease is that I always feel it is avoidable.

We had home-made Leek and Potato soup (with the leeks being home grown, as you could probably guess from the clumps of soil on the roots), but it was a bit glutinous. I remember seeing something about the problem before when I started making soup but can’t recall what the cause was. All I can find now is that the potatoes were over-worked (and you shouldn’t use a blender) or that I used the wrong (high starch) potatoes. Neither of these seem to be what I remember from the previous time, which I though was something to do with ratios.

I always use the cheapest potatoes in the shop, I always use a hand blender, and I don’t usually have a problem. Maybe it’s the way the soup-maker works. Does anyone have any ideas?

Blue tits are using the nest box by the centre entrance, but as my wife pointed out, they did that last year and the year before – they just like to torment us.

Things picked up a bit towards the end of the day when we cleaned the store cupboard (which we had been putting off for months) and one of the group baked chocolate chip cookies. A fresh warm biscuit for afternoon break was just what we needed.