Monthly Archives: June 2010

Shearing and a little surprise

A few years ago mother got her own set of shears, and since then we have done our own shearing. It takes a bit of time and is mostly done by mother, who holds the sheep, and middle-younger-sister who does the actual shearing. We only turn the sheep on their backs to do their tummies and mostly they are happy to stand there with a bowl of feed. 

This year we have been having a little fun when we mark them before turning them back out; 

Mid-day nap - 27th June 2010

 

Trend setter - 27th June 2010

 

A single flower - 27th June 2010

 

Cupcake bum - 27th June 2010

 

"Don't come any closer!" - 27th June 2010

 

The ewes have of course thought that we are being very silly and have spent time rubbing and smudging as much as they can but people are still passing by with looks of disbelief and delight on their faces. 

 At the weekend me and middle-younger-sister sheared a sheep whilst mother was out, it was a ewe who hadn’t lambed this year and middle-younger-sister feared it might have been because of damage cause by lambing last year. She was quite  tubby and when she sheared around her back legs middle-younger-sister found the ewe had a large udder! 

Just a few weeks earlier she had been checked over and the verdict had been she was not in lamb as she had not udder or any other signs. She lambed yesterday evening, a single ram lamb; 

Mother and baby - 30th June 2010

A big girl now

At the end of last month Chloe moved out from her shed by the goat pen and in with the rest of the cows. We were surprised at how big she has got, now being not that much smaller than the adult Dexters.

When she first arrive in the field she thought the baby, Pippin, was amazing and chased her all over the field which didn’t please Pumpkin but other than that has fitted right in. 

Chloe, Pumpkin and Pippin, later in the day that Chloe moved in - 23rd May 2010

 It is lovely watching them all together in the sunshine.

Summer Solstice

For some reason I don’t really ever mark the summer solstice as I would like to; firstly because I always forget that June is in fact half way through the year and it isn’t July which feels as though it should be but also because this time of year is so busy.

This year I’d planned to spend a nice summer’s evening at the allotment planting out some of the things that now are taking off in their pots and seed trays and possibly, finally weeding the onion, garlic and carrot bed and sowing some more carrots. But my plans had to be abandoned for the saddest of reasons as just after I got home from work a neighbour arrived to tell us that a sheep had been shot dead just outside their house.

We arrived to find that it was Cobweb. The neighbours said that her and her lambs were grazing on the green in front of their house whilst they were outside talking, they heard a crack that sounded like some sort of shot from behind them and Cobweb wobbled and lay down. At first they thought she might have been overcome with heat as it was very hot and had been all day, and when we first arrived I thought it was possible an infection from the dog attack had taken hold but after checking her over we found a small graze and an entry hole in her side.

The rest of the evening was spent trying to catch her lambs, who are unharmed but still in a state from losing their mother, calming down another ewe, Iris, who we think was with her when it happened and now will not come near anyone and contacting the police, the secretary of the Commoners’, the body who oversee free-roaming animals in the area, and the local Animal Health office who have possibly done the most as our ‘local man’ has arranged for DEFRA to pay for and carry out a post-mortem and came and collected her himself and delivered her to their labs.

We have now lost two important members of our flock this year, with both Cobweb and Flattie being bottle fed lambs who started our flock of sheep off. They were both very tame, would come to name (even if feed was an even surer way of getting their attention) and had many happy years of life with us, that is something we can be sure of as we knew them both as well as anyone can ever know another creature.       

 After last time I am not for one second holding my breath that anyone will be caught, although the police have done far more than last time as we have actually received a visit from them and a phone call to follow it up. All that can be done now is to feel numb, sad and angry and carry on with the hope that maybe someone will be questioned, or even charged for their crime.

The only alternative that I can see would be to give up and I might as well live in a tower block in the middle of the nosiest, most built up, gun crime filled area but then I would be the biggest loser any way. Instead I can be happy enough with the years we lived happily with Cobweb, and the countless years spent with everyone else, and look forward to who is going to come along next.

Do not cry because I have gone, be happy that I was here – a quote I am sure I have heard somewhere

Country Markets

On Friday I attended my first local Country Market with some eggs.

Country Markets are what have taken over from WI markets as for some legal reason the WI was no longer able to carry on with the markets. They are run as co-operatives and so all the members take responsibly for making sure it runs smoothly and buy in packaging, etc. in bulk.  

It was a nice all be it an odd morning, the market runs like clock work and I wasn’t really sure what I should be doing as everyone has their job and gets on with. My eggs joined lots of jams, jellies and preserves, cakes and bread, plants and the first of the summer’s fruit and vegetables. I managed to sell three and a half-dozen eggs which will help ease the glut and pay for some feed! Up until this point they haven’t really had anyone there selling eggs so people wouldn’t have been really expecting to find eggs there, so I think it went well.

Country Markets are run all over the UK so it is worth having a look to see where your nearest one is, sadly they are seeing a downturn in customers all over the country at the moment which is such a shame as it is possibly one of the only ways of buying products direct from producers who are too small for larger outlets such as farmers markets or local shops who need a continues supply of stock.

Allotment – May 2010

I seem to have settled into a new pattern at the allotment over the last month, because of my work load I haven’t had many days when I can spend large amounts of time up there but I am visiting most evenings after work and spending an hour or so there, and a few more on days that I have had off. I have also started keeping lots of notes, with plans and changes to plans all recorded.

I have enjoyed writing my notes, it is a nice thing to do in the evening after it is too late to be outside. I haven’t written them every night just when I have felt like it so they are not complete and things have changed here and there, I have lost seedlings, not sown things that I have planned to and seem to have had a very slow germination rate meaning that I have given up on some things and planted more of them only to have them all come up.  

Seed Germination

10/05/2010

17/18 – broccoli

4/10 – Greyhound Cabbage

7/10 – Evesham (brussel sprout)

4/10 – Falstaff (brussel sprout)

0/5 – Red cabbage

Still to sow: 1 tray curly kale, 1 tray nero kale

21/05/2010

24/18 – broccoli

2/5 – red cabbage

5/10 – Falstaff (brussel sprout)

9/10 – Evesham Special (brussel sprout)

0/9 Courgettes 

11/11 Raab

4/4 Kale

No French or Runner beans fully up but showing plenty of signs of life. Labels wash blank

Seeds soaking – squash 

Boston Winter Squash – largest seeds x5, Butternut Squash – small and ‘rough’ looking x7, Golden Crookneck – a little bigger than the Butternut seeds. Smoother and slightly yellowy.

Parsnips

This year was the first year I have ever tried growing parsnips and I had been really pleased with the results and seemed to have some nice healthy looking plants. I decided that they were ready to go out and planned digging a bed for them as a job for the weekend, only to find the whole tray of them all over the floor having been knocked over by something during the night. I haven’t managed to save any of them.

Squashes

The first lot of squashes that I planted were very slow to come up, so slow that I gave up on them and planted the rest of the spares seeds I had kept for next year and any other types of squash seeds I found in my boxes and packages of seeds, of which I have many. All of the squash seed that I have bought this year has come from The Real Seed Company  and this is the first year that I have bought seeds from them so I did fear that maybe they just weren’t going to come through. I was wrong, and they came through within a day or so of my sowing the others. Luckily squashes can be kept and don’t have to be eaten as soon as they are ready to harvest.

Purple Sprouting Broccoli

I realised that I had left it far to late to sow any purple sprouting broccoli so I bought some plug plants from ebay, I chose an early variety as it would be nice to have some for Christmas. I ordered a variety called ‘Rudolph’ which should be ready in November. I ordered ten plug plants and got twenty! They are all now in and have almost out grown their plastic bottle protectors.

Strawberries

I now have a strawberry bed. A friend gave me loads of her strawberry plants at the start of the month, and even though they were moved at the wrong time of year really they are doing ok. Rhys made a bed for them on the grassy area of the allotment, where I now have a table. They have suffered in the last week or so of heat and a lot have gone brown in spite of being watered over two gallons of water a day, and twice a day on the hotter days, but seem to be springing back now we have had a few days of rain.

Paths and grass

I have left the path ways on the plots as grass, this is to encourage a bit of an ecosystem to develope up there. My long term plan for this is to keep some meat rabbits up there and feed them on the path ways which of course will provide another kind of food (for the meat eaters) and greatly inprove the soil and maybe encourage good bugs etc. I haven’t yet managed to steal mothers rabbits for this and so the grass up there is having to be mowed, I am using the cuttings as a mulch and have counted three different kinds of grass, which I am very pleased with.

My shiny new banner

My new banner, kindly made by Lou Tonkin

I have been writing this blog for over three years now, and the main reason I chose wordpress as my host was because I could make my own banner. Which I did over three years ago with my very dodgy photo editing skills and I loved it but just this past few months it has started to look for and more tired and out dated until I couldn’t take it anymore.   

My problem was I wasn’t sure how I wanted to change it, my photo editing skills have never gotten any better and I can’t draw  or paint to save my life, so I was over the moon when Lou Tonkin, a neighbour with a smallholding of her own, said she would put something together for me!  

Am I very proud to be unveiling it to you here.  

Lou is a very talented lady who seems to be able to turn her hand to anything she tries, she has just started her own blog to showcase her lovely work.  

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Life has been very busy here for a while, which has hardly left any time for blogging and even less time when I have had enough wits about me to sit down and write about what is going on. As well as the normal animal care and food growing (and watering!) I have ended up working five or six days a week compared to my normal three days.  

My contract ran out at the begging of April, I was covering for someone whilst they worked else where for a year with the possibility that their contract would be extended and I would be able to stay on in my current job. At the start of April I had my contract extended for a month but it looked very likely that I would be out of a job at the end of the month. The company that I work for was very supportive, I did want to go and they didn’t want to lose me so some funding was found for me to stay but with only half the hours that I had had with the hope that the rest of my hours could be made up by taking more delivery at events and covering for holidays, etc.  

So I started to take on extra hours, and as many as I could to try to make up the short fall that my new contract would have left. Then just as I was getting ready to hand back and start on my new work the person I was covering for got another job, meaning I could keep my job!  

Since then it has been a mad rush catching up with the work that I was handing back, that had all been put on hold whilst the details were being worked out, and delivering the extra work that I had said I would do already. By the middle of this month fingers crossed it will have settled down a bit but I will still have the extra work that I would have had so will be working more days a week until the end of the funding next year.