Pretty boy

The ram goes in with the ewes but the wet weather continues

The Ram (pictured) was moved as planned, but regrettably one of the ewes had to be taken out and separated from the others due to lameness.

She seems to be recovering well, but it will be a while we think before she is returned to the paddock. We want to be sure that whatever is causing the lameness is cured before reintroduction into the flock.

Meanwhile, the sow has been removed from the piglets (easier than the other way round), and they now have access to a new area of fresh ground.

The rain has continued to pour this month, making it very soggy underfoot – for us and the animals.

New ewe(s)

We increase our breeding stock

Geraldine’s recovery is now complete, and she is as good as new.

We have also just added to our breeding ewes with a purchase of two more from a neighbour of ours (pictured – the ewes, not the neighbour!).

One is pure Suffolk as far as we know, and the other we’re not sure about. Both are a little older than ours, but should give us a few good years of service.

After a couple of weeks with the others, the ram will join the ewes in November. In the meantime, the girls all have access to the main field at night, just to give their current paddock a bit of respite.

Ditched

Geraldine the ewe goes for an unplanned dip

With slightly drier weather so far, the piglets are doing well. 8 in all. They are coping with the surface mud, and are already tucking into mum’s fodder!

Electric fencing continues slowly too, with a second of the 4 main paddocks getting the treatment.

We also nearly lost one of our ewes last week. Having nipped out of our rear fence, she fell into a drainage ditch and couldn’t get out. She may have been there for nearly 24 hours, and when we found her, she was only just visible with her head and back showing in the muddy water.

She was very cold and obviously tired, and it took 3 people to get her out. Sheep are heavy enough without a fleece full of water!

She rested on her side in the steading for 3 days (pictured), barely moving but warm under a heat lamp, and we called the vet to check her over. After a further day or two, we managed to get her back on her feet.

Keeping her warm

She has recovered well and is now out in the field chewing grass. Albeit with a visible tide mark!

Wuffling

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…

Gammon steaks

We lose our internet and Blitz’s allergy returns

More damp weather this month, but work goes on. As we prepare for more piglets in August, we’ve been moving the remaining few pigs around.

So far, we have separated the two weaner boars from the sow and remaining gilt (so as to avoid any unnecessary accidents), but the next step is slightly more difficult.

We will need to separate the gilt and sow so that the sow can farrow in peace, however, to do this we will need to put up a new fence around an unused ark (the last fence has seen better days).

Let’s hope for better weather next month.

On the plus side, Blitz has started to recover from whichever allergy he was suffering from, and the gammon (pictured) from our boar is proving to be fantastic!

Weather and allergies

We lose our internet and Blitz’s allergy returns

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!).

Output

Spring produce – piglets, lambs and rhubarb

The last couple of months have proved to be very busy indeed, which isn’t unusual for Spring!

The piglets were weaned at 11 weeks old, and the sow moved back with the boar.

Following a tragedy with one of our ewes, we were delighted that our remaining 4 ewes gave us 8 lambs – (2 sets of triplets and 2 singles). 2 of the 8 were rejected by their mothers and proved to be quite tricky to rear, but once they got the hang of it things got considerably easier. All 8 lambs are outside and doing well.

The polytunnel is also showing good growth (and not too much damage from rabbits!), and we enjoyed our first of a healthy crop of rhubarb.

Castration

Careful preparations ensure a stress-free castration, well almost

March got off to a bang with a visit from the vet – our calf, Billy, was due to be castrated.

We have been leading up to this point for several weeks as Pippa is quite strong-willed. She is quite happy to go along with us as long as she feels like it!

We started off by encouraging them both to leave their comfy paddock, and bit by bit we managed to get them into a shed (and shut the door). They stayed there for 3 or 4 days quite happily, and on the day, Pippa was helped out leaving Billy behind.

When the vet arrived, Billy was encouraged into the crush, and the work was done as quickly and painlessly as possible.

We did try to put Pippa with Billy back in the shed, but she decided otherwise and took a couple of fences with her…

After 24 hours of trying, we decided enough was enough, and put Billy back in the paddock instead. Understandably they are much more relaxed together.

Piglets galore

We are inundated with piglets

Pigalilli finally gave birth to 11 healthy piglets at the beginning of Feb. 6 boars and 5 gilts.

With the exception of some cold snaps, the weather has been very kind and the piglets have developed well. They are certainly very cheeky!

Mother’s appetite is growing in proportion to the piglets, and her meals are becoming bigger and bigger!

The plan is that by the time they are ready to wean, the weather should be warm enough not to pose too much risk.

A cosy sty awaits

Preparing for piglets

After some relatively good weather in December and early January, we are just starting to see the real winter hit. Mild but sunny days have finally given way to cold winds, rain, and now some short bursts of hail and snow.

Plenty more to come, no doubt.

We have moved our two pigs into fresh pens, separate ones as Pigalilli (left) is expecting piglets shortly and will need some space to nest. Plenty of bedding in her ark, and some strategically placed bales of hay to keep the draughts out. Cosy!

The ram has settled in and we are confident that the ewes have been ‘served’. Lambs expected in April.