Friday, 30 October 2009

Just about ready...

Well, well - I think it's fair to say that Tiny Farmer has had a good lesson in fence buidling! In preparation for the new lambs and ram arriving next week we had to build a fence on another field - this is to keep the lambs away from the ram. The length of the fencing was only 250 metres, but it did need 4 corner posts driven into the ground and has 5 strands of wire. No doubt many many miles were walked in the 6 hours it took to erect the fence. Luckily the weather was kind and it was a sunny day.

So that's it - I think we are just about ready for the new arrivals.

We just have to hope that the ram harness arrives in time now as we only ordered that today - fingers crossed and luckily it's not being sent by post. We will attach a brightly coloured crayon to the harness and will be able to see which ewes have been served by the ram...but more about that next week as it all unfolds.

Tiny Farmer out

Monday, 26 October 2009

Hen Care

Several of our chicken keeping friends have reported infestations of Red Mite. Red Mites are nasty little critters a bit like lice – blood sucking parasites. We’ve been told that the signs to look out for are egg production going down and the chickens starting to peck each other and getting bald patches. Apparently Red Mite has been increasingly common in recent years due to our relatively mild winters (and the mites not getting frozen to death in the coldest months). If your chickens get Red Mite it can be very hard to eradicate and the chicken coop can get re-infested again and again. So prevention is better than cure. So this weekend the children had the job of trying to catch each chicken and dust them all over with a special Red Mite powder. Easier said than done and there were all sorts of clever kids plans involving lettuce leaves and trap doors. However the simplest solution was just to catch each bird using our patented chicken-catching towel , a quick dust and away they go. The children really enjoyed the chance to stroke the birds – who are generally not that keen on being handled. Certainly a fun (and useful!) way to while away an afternoon…

Monday, 19 October 2009

One big happy family

Happy to report that all the ewes are now one big happy flock. They seem to have sorted out who the leaders should be and the older and more dominant ewes seem to have it all under control.

Treat time is now quite comical as we have 27 ewes thundering towards us with much baa'ing. We have two feeding troughs so that the lamb ewes and smaller ewes don't get muscled out by the bigger ones. I guess we'll be getting through quite a bit more sheep mix now than when there were only 7 - time to start buying in bulk!

We trimmed the whole flock’s feet on Friday and gave them all a worm treatment. This was a good opportunity to look at the new arrivals closely, which was just as well as some of their feet needed quite a bit of attention and care. We will watch this closely over the next few months and make sure that they get sorted. I could tell that we'd handled 27 sheep rather that 7 by the state of my hamstring muscles on Saturday…well I guess it beats paying gym fees eh?

The next big job is to get the fencing sorted before the arrival of the ram and some more lambs in a few weeks. With the flock a bit bigger now we also need to get a better water system as we won't want to be taking water to the whole flock on a daily basis. Right, thinking cap on then!

Tiny Farmer out

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Look ewe's arrived...

Well, we did it...we drove all the way to Wiltshire and came back with another 20 sheep! If you were travelling on the M25 or M3 and were held up by the trailer full of sheep please accept my apologies.

The Tiny Farmer flock sure has grown and the "baa" chorus that greets us at feeding time is now quite loud. The new members to the flock are a mixture of lambs, 2 year old ewes and a few 3 and 4 year olds, hopefully this will instill a certain amount of sense come lambing season next year.

The original 7 ewes are now separated from the new arrivals by electric fence for the moment. This will hopefully give the new lot a chance to settle in and also allow the whole group to become familiar before being combined into one flock.

Friday is a big sheep day as we'll be trimming feet on the whole flock and giving them all a worming treatment - dealing with 27 will be a big step up from 7. I expect that Friday will be an early night after rugby tackling so many sheep in one day.
The next big day in the sheep calendar is November 1st when the ram arrives, accompanied by another 8 lambs. That will take the Tiny Farmer flock up to maximum capacity, for now anyway...

Tiny Farmer out

Friday, 9 October 2009


OK we'll admit it, we're not great fans of marrows - well not enough to want to eat them at every meal for the next 2 months, which is what we'd have to do to get through the amount we have.
We planted quite a few courgette plants on the allotment and have eaten quite a few courgettes from them - but then almost overnight the rest of the crop turned into an army of monster marrows. We have enjoyed having them on display with our pumpkins and squashes and have tried all sorts of different recipes but sadly there is not a lot of enthusiasm in this family when it comes to eating the things.
However, we hate to see vegetables go to waste so having given away as much as possible to every marrow-eating friend and neighbour we could think of, we finally decided to set up a free marrow stall outside our house. To be honest, we weren’t holding our breath that any of them would disappear – even if we were literally giving them away. But, amazingly, after only a couple of hours our large pile of gargantuan courgettes had vanished.
With Macmillan Coffee morning coming up we decided to repeat the exercise, only this time we left a "charity box" out for people who wanted to give a donation to Macmillan - so win win all round - we no longer have a glut of marrows, money has been raised for Macmillan and people will be enjoying the marrows.
So a big thanks to all the marrow loving passerby's and thanks to all who donated.
Enjoy the marrows!

Monday, 5 October 2009

Tiny Farmer Mutton Bash

We wanted to thank everyone who had been supportive of the Tiny Farmer project this year – so we decided to have a bit of a celebration. No ordinary food fest would do though, so we decided to salute that slightly outmoded meat – mutton. We sourced a ewe (rare breed Norfolk Horn), from the same farm that will be providing our lamb for the lamb share in the next few months, and had the butcher prepare three equal portions of burgers, sausages and diced mutton for a curry.

50 burgers, 60 sausages and 6kgs of curry seemed a sufficient amount to keep everyone's hunger at bay. It also gave us a good excuse to prepare vast quantities of potato salad and beetroot salad (using the supplies from the allotment).
We certainly enjoyed the bash and hope to be able to do something similar next year again. I guess it's a kind of Tiny Farmer harvest celebration, with a twist…

Party out of the way and thoughts are now turning to the new additions to our own flock of Black Welsh Mountain ewes. 10 breeding ewes, 14 ewe lambs and a ram will be arriving in the next few weeks. The ram will tup the 17 ewes (our existing 7 plus the new 10) and the 14 new lambs will need a separate field as we wouldn't want them tupped this year. That should take the Tiny Farmer flock numbers up a bit - the kids are very excited!
Best get on with that fencing then…