Monday, 30 November 2009

Catch up

The lack of a blog entry for a few days is in no way an indicator of lack of goings on at Tiny Farmer. Sadly we haven’t really had the energy to write too much given that the whole family has been smitten with flu. Fortunately we are all on the mend now, but it certainly gave our energy levels a bit of a knock and it was a shock to be so knocked out that we couldn’t even make it out of bed. So many thanks to all the friends and neighbours who were so fantastically helpful in our moment of need (especially liked the homemade soup!).

There has been no lack of incident during the week. We have, sadly, suffered another bit of rural vandalism. On visiting our rented barn the other day we were shocked to discover that it had been broken into and several items stolen – including our rotovator and chainsaw. They tried to take the trailer too but fortunately the lock proved effective. It was one of a number of burglaries in the area that night. Police forensics came out and did their bit – but unfortunately didn’t manage to get any decent prints. Case closed.

It is suddenly feeling very wintery too – that north wind is really cutting. The sheep are needing a bit of hay to supplement their grass (which is looking lack luster). Now that energy levels are restored we'll move them onto some different fields and grass will be plentiful again.
The chickens are in trouble too. After a week or so of free range chaos our garden looks like a disaster zone and every spring blub has been dug up. Worse, they decided to stretch their wings and fly into the neighbouring gardens and try to colonize them too. Oh dear. Plan B coming into force very soon.

Tiny Farmer out.

Thursday, 19 November 2009

Chicken Run!

The chickens have escaped! No, they haven’t run away – it was a fully sanctioned bust out from their run. Unfortunately the recent torrential rain has turned their enclosure into a mud bath and the poor chicks looked like they’d had a bad day at Glastonbury

This is Henny Penny – she used to be white and it looks like she could be doing with a pair of wellies. The only solution was to give the chickens the freedom of the garden again. We don’t have too much for them to devour in the vegetable beds anyway. As you can see they are making the most of their new found freedom

and enjoying perching on pots and trees. They are getting very adventurous now and often come up to the kitchen window and tap on the glass when we are in the kitchen! The only slight problem we have found with the new free range arrangement is that their free-range manure is not confined to the grass or the veg plot – it is often to be found on the paths and pots and has already made its way on to the bottom of a shoe or two. Great.

We thought that all the freedom to forage must be good for the birds. So were horrified to notice after a few days of this arrangement that Sarrie was looking distinctly unwell. How about this for a half-plucked chicken look?

After researching all the horrible chicken illnesses she might have contracted and doing a night hunt for Red Mite, we asked our chicken expert neighbour for her thoughts. “She’s just moulting”….phew! Let’s hope that it’s nothing more serious and that she grows some new feathers soon. Not a good look, Sarrie!

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Dangerous Dogs – dead sheep

Yesterday we went to check on the lambs. One was looking very unwell. She was lying down and although she could walk when encouraged, her head was drooping. After a closer look and a bit of detective work by a keen eyed 8-year old, we realized what had happened…the lambs had been attacked by a loose dog. There was still saliva on the lamb’s neck, under her fleece we discovered serious puncture wounds and there was evidence of fresh blood on the wood of the sheep shelter. It was also clear that the fence had been breached.

We called out the vet and he confirmed our worst fears – the lamb had been attacked by a dog (of Labrador size or bigger) and shaken violently causing a broken neck and brain damage. The poor lamb had no chance of recovery and it only remained for us to hold her and comfort her as the vet put her out of her misery. Our daughter held the torch in the darkness and we said goodbye to the lamb for the last time. It was unexpectedly emotional.

We only had long enough to wipe our tears and mop our blood stained clothes before traipsing in to the local police station to report the attack. The officers were extremely sympathetic and recorded the case, offered liaison with their rural team and the officer for the area. They also confirmed what our rather vengeful son wanted to know…”can we shoot a dog if it tries to eat our sheep?” The answer was an unequivocal “yes”. However, as it is highly unlikely that we will be shooting rampaging dogs, we have opted for a number of polite notices alerting dog owners to the dangers of letting dogs off the leash near a sheep field. We have also put up another 50 meters of mesh to make it even harder for dogs to get into the field.

Poor lamb.

Monday, 9 November 2009

Mr Ram arrives

Hooray - we now have a ram in the flock!

What an exciting time for the sheep flock, the past few days have been a hive of activity. We separated the lambs from the ewes, put the lambs in a different field and then introduced the ram to the ewes. We know that he has been a very busy as we fitted a harness to him that held a red crayon - this then leaves a red mark on the ewe. A good number of the ewes are already marked red which is promising. We'll change the colour of the wax crayon in 3 weeks time and will then be able to see which ewes have taken.

The lambs seem happy enough in their new field. We put up a rubbing post for them (identical to the one in their first field) and they seem to be enjoying it. I'm sure they are getting up to all sorts of mischief now that they are away from the older more sensible ewes and it is also clear that a new pecking order has been established.

Sunday, 1 November 2009

Happy Hallowe’en

We were really chuffed about this one…our own massive pumpkin lanterns for Hallowe’en? Isn’t that just great! The children certainly thought so! We spent an afternoon scooping them out and carving the scary faces (completed with fake blood dripping from the terrifying teeth!). Big pumpkins are, of course, a lot easier to dig out than the small ones as you can get the spoon in much easier. Doesn’t begin to compare to childhood agonies trying to make neep lanterns…a turnip is not quite as yielding as a nice pulpy pumpkin. We dried out the pumpkin seed and will fry them up with sugar and Worcester sauce to make nice healthy nibbles.

I am pleased to report that we also used some windfall apples to “dook” with. So all in all a very self sufficient Hallowe’en. Can’t say we ate any less chocolate mind you!