At the beginning of June, and after a long battle with CDRM, we lost our beloved GSD Blitz. He was 12.
We took Blitz on as a rescue dog 9 years ago, and never regretted it. Even with several other GSDs in the ‘pack’ it took him several months to fully settle in, but after that he showed his true character – a gentle giant with a bark that could pierce the eardrums!
18 months ago he was diagnosed with CDRM, after we noticed him dragging his foot, and 6 months later a large mass was found in his abdomen. Neither was causing any discomfort, but over time his mobility did deteriorate. With careful management though, and one or two home made devices, he remained comfortable and happy to the end.
We miss him terribly, but are extremely thankful for the extra year he gave us.
All of the lambs have now been born, and following some time inside the livestock shed (while the weather was still unpredictable), they have now been moved to their outside residence.
Luckily for us, we also have some ‘lamb monitors’ available to perform regular checks for us. As you can see, they enjoy their work!
Elsewhere, the polytunnel is starting to take shape with good signs of growth, and the grass is finally looking like making an effort. It will need to work harder though, otherwise our hay crop this year will be very poor.
The slow start to the season could make things quite tricky!
We move the livestock indoors but the dogs enjoy the great outdoors
There is a time for snow, and that time appears to be now!
All of the dogs love it, although today’s depth seems to be at around 18-24 inches in the field, and it does seem to slow them down marginally.
And as Sophie (pictured) says, waste not want not! She can roll about in it all day!
More seriously though, it does make croft life very tricky at times, and feeding the animals is particularly challenging. We have brought all of last year’s lambs inside (the first time ever), and amazingly, we also managed to bring the cows in too!
Pippa and Co have always had a severe aversion to our livestock shed, but after a few false starts and by rattling a bucket of nosh, they were all comfortably in the small enclosure just outside of it. They go in and out of the shed at will (the door doesn’t shut properly because of the snow) which seems to suit them, and we think that gradually they will become less nervous about being there.
October has brought rain, then some more rain, topped by even more rain!
Much of the croft is quite soggy, and whilst this does add some challenges to the daily feeding and husbandry routine, the dogs absolutely love their new water feature – a huge deep puddle/lake that has formed in the lower corner of the main field (pictured).
Daisy is settling in well, readily testing the boundaries of the other dogs (and us), and is also enjoying regular clicker training sessions. She certainly seems to be intelligent, even if her attention span is understandably short at the moment.
Unfortunately, the wet weather brings downs as well as ups, including the potential for a bout of footrot in our sheep. A regular inspection (including foot trimming, and tagging the lambs) revealed one of our new ewes with a minor case, so she has been temporarily moved into pen for treatment.
At the same time, Olive (this year’s Dexter calf) is avoiding the cattle pen with dexter-ity! Something has obviously spooked her in there, so she runs around the entrance instead of going in like the others do. Slowly, she is coming round though, which is just as well because a vets visit is imminent…
Life has been slowly returning to normal at the croft, after a difficult August.
Two of last year’s lambs have been sent to the abattoir and should be back from the butcher shortly, and we recently acquired some broiler chickens for the pot (one of which has already been sampled!). Apples and plums have been picked, and the grapes are very nearly ready to be harvested too.
Whilst our remaining three GSDs have adjusted to the new ‘structure’ in the pack, we have found it much more difficult to deal with. After considerable thought we finally succumbed, and made a new addition to the household in the shape of a small white GSD puppy called Daisy.
She will never replace Molly or Amy, but her antics have been a real tonic. Her puppy behaviour (polite description) never ceases to amuse, amaze, and even shock us, and it has certainly been a while since we felt the pinch of a small pin-like puppy tooth! It is hard to be sad with a puppy in your presence.
The clicker training has begun, and she is responding nicely (within her short attention span), and once her homeopathic vaccinations are complete, we hope to start introducing her so some of the livestock.
Thanks to a welcome gap in the weeks of torrential rain, we had the hay cut early in August. Praying for good weather, we were rewarded with sun and breeze for 6 days, and managed to bale successfully. Nice dry stuff, if a bit loose in the bale strings!
The following day, our friendly neighbour delivered three round bales of straw, and we spent the afternoon re-baling to give us easier to handle square bales. The baler could be stored for another year.
Unfortunately our delight was short lived. Only days after putting the hay in the shed, Molly, one of our GSDs fell ill. We never doubted for one minute that she would be fine, but she continued to deteriorate. After 6 days, we couldn’t hold on to her any longer, and she had to be put to sleep.
Almost at the same time, Amy (another GSD) also became ill with an unrelated problem. Exactly 7 days after losing Molly, Amy went to the vet for exploratory surgery, and we were advised not to revive her.
We are devastated and miss them both very much, and the shock of losing two seemingly healthy dogs is still very real, but life on the croft must go on.
The apples are maturing and will be ready soon, and there is still plenty going on in the polytunnel that demands our attention.
The snow makes life difficult for us but the dogs are thrilled
Did it snow? Did it ever!
Whilst we have seen worse over the last couple of years, it did come as a bit of a surprise. Mind you, the dogs absolutely LOVED it!
With nothing but a light breeze, bright sunshine, several layers of snow over the field, they chased around as though they were floating on air. The canine equivalent of ‘snow angels’ could clearly be seen around the perimeter of the field (their usual route).
In addition to the fun though, there is also a more challenging aspect to the weather. The animals not only need to be fed at the usual times, but also have to have plenty of dry bedding, and it all has to be carried to their pens through the snow. At first, is quite easy, but after a while, we found it quite exhausting!
Thankfully the snow has now passed, and has been replaced by drizzle. The mud is deeper, but we’re used to it, and it’s no less than we expect in Feb. In a couple of months, it will subside as the ground dries up. Hopefully!
A month full of snow and gales but at least the dogs are happy
February has been a month of extremes.
Snowfall in the first week, which the dogs (pictured) absolutely loved, gave us some concerns for the calf in the cold. Thankfully it seemed to pass without incident, and soon gave way to wetter but slightly warmer weather.
Then following a few more cold days, the weather changed completely and gave us several days warm(ish) and dry! This gave us the opportunity to finish the boundary fencing and shift the ewes in. The grass in there had been untouched for several months, so was fresher than everywhere else.
Unfortunately, though, the weather changed again in the last couple of days giving us severe gales with more forecast. Not ideal, but probably no worse than expected at this time of year. If we can just make it through March and the beginning of April, hopefully, we’ll start to see an upturn in the weather, and an improvement on the damp rainy conditions of last year.
As the end of the year approaches, so the evenings continue to get shorter. This makes working outside very difficult but no less necessary, although we have to admit that some tasks just can’t be done in the dark!
Rain, whilst not an everyday affair, continues.
On the plus side, we have chosen our Christmas Tree (soon to be chopped) and are enjoying the warm open fire in the chilly evenings.
Weather for the last few weeks has been pretty damp and misty, and finally broke with a spectacular electrical storm and heavy downpour just a week ago.
The storm knocked out our telephones and internet, leaving us with one single outgoing line which we finally rigged up for dialup internet! Difficult, but we managed to keep Training Lines orders rolling out thank goodness.
Outside, the sheep have been sheared leaving them a bit weedy looking, and we’ve just collected some of our boar from the butcher.
As he was approaching 2 years old, we were quite concerned about ‘boar taint’ and overall meat quality but it seems our worries were unfounded. The butcher told us that the pork was extremely lean, and our evening meal was absolutely delicious too!
As the grass gets longer and we prepare for hay, we are at the time of year when Blitz develops some kind of allergic reaction to something. Last year at about this time he had the same thing – his eyes and jowls become swollen, and the skin on his legs goes very pink.
It lasts for about 6 weeks, but looks extremely uncomfortable for him, so we are currently trying some homoeopathic allergy treatments and keeping him out of the long grass (just in case!).