A new roof over our heads
Last year it was the porches, this year the project is the roof of our steading. The L shaped building is filled to the rafters with “stuff” and since it has been leaking for a very long time we have had to carefully place things out of the way of the drips. It’s incredible that it hasn’t collapsed before now, especially with the weight of snow we had last year.
Relatives and friends are here on a working “holiday” helping us remove the ancient slates and fit a not quite so beautiful box profile. We would have loved to replace the slate but in the time we have available, it was just not possible.
As usual the weather is proving a challenge, not only for the roof but also for the hay. We cut one field last week and almost immediately the rain came down. We only need mention the word “hay” for black clouds to gather overhead. A good crop is looking doubtful.
Belinda produced her kids on time and now has two lovely black and white girls – Betsy and Bethany. They look tiny compared with Lily’s two who are huge now and very naughty. Out of the two goats, Belinda’s milk is far superior and much creamier than Lily’s which is strange as they are mother and daughter. As a result of our massive increase in milk production we are now eating vast quantities of homemade ice cream. Shame we don’t have the weather to go with it!
The snow catches us by surprise but the dogs love it
It was all going so well, and then suddenly there was a blanket of white. We knew it would happen sooner or later, but we just didn’t expect it to be in November!
Still, we can’t dwell on it. The sheep have been converged into a more sheltered area (this was due to happen anyway, but the snow gave us that little push), and we are well into the animal feeding cycle now. The main difficulty is that the feed has to be carried as the wheelbarrow can’t be pushed through, and the usual paths are quite deep. It makes otherwise quite straightforward tasks much more tiring.
On the plus side, we haven’t seen many muddy pawprints in the house! All the mud has either frozen or been covered over, leaving a nice clean play area for the dogs. They love it!
We discover a couple of new-borns running in the snow
With yet more snow this month, in between the really soggy thawing out periods, the going has been pretty difficult outside. Most of the animals have been moved inside, but we were just a little too late for one of our ewes…
We were feeding all of the animals in the late afternoon as always, and when we got to the sheep we noticed a couple of newborn lambs running about in the snow!
Whilst they looked healthy and dry (their mother had obviously been looking after them), the outdoor conditions were far from ideal. We very quickly moved them into a warm, dry pen (pictured). After a couple of hours, mother and lambs were doing well!
In the meantime, a quick look at our calendar revealed that these lambs were born at the very earliest possible date (taking the time with the ram and the typical gestation period into account), which caught us on the hop!
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.
Daisy settles in and joins the pack
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…
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.
We battle with the weather to get the hay in
August has been hard work!
Despite the weather, we finally decided to cut the grass for hay. After turning it a couple of times with our neighbour’s ‘Wuffler’ (pictured), it decided to rain some more! As a consequence, the hay was on the ground slightly longer but we finally managed to bale it at the end of the month, and managed 250 bales. That should keep us going for winter!
In the meantime, our pig moves were completed just in time for Piggy to have her piglets. One new electric fence required for that.
Another electric fence was needed to move Pippa and Billy (Dexter cows) into a fresh paddock. This was the first time they’d been moved into this area, and Billy was gambolling around with excitement!
And finally, as our ram lambs are starting to mature we needed to move them away from the ewes and ewe lambs. Thankfully this was relatively painless, and just a little chasing was required!
Perhaps we’ll have a rest in September…
The snow challenges us but the dogs love it
Well, we don’t know about the weather where you are, but we’ve had some pretty serious snow up here in the northeast of Scotland over the last month.
The good news is that the dogs have absolutely LOVED it. They have been running and rolling about in the field going absolutely mad, and without coming in all covered in mud.
The bad news has been the effect it has had on our other animals. Thankfully we’ve muddled through without any really serious problems, but ensuring the wellbeing of our livestock was pretty challenging at times. Even the simple tasks like feeding and watering became a marathon when wading through 3 feet of snow in each direction!
Still, although we’ve continued to have a few short snow showers, things are looking up weather wise and with the dawn of spring we’re working hard in the polytunnel to ensure our crop of vegetables this year. We also have plans to plant an orchard/fruit garden as soon as the ground dries out a little. Hopefully soon…