We live in Scotland, we expect rain, but do we really have to have it every single day? It feels like it’s not stopped for months now. A few weeks ago we suddenly had a morning of sunshine and in a panic, we cut the grass. Of course the rain wasn’t gone for long and it came back with a vengeance. The grass lay on the ground sopping wet and getting trampled by happy dogs who were delighted that they now had a clear view of the swallows right across the field and maybe a sporting chance of catching them!
A few weeks on and we had another morning of sunshine, panic again, turn the grass to fluff it up and let it dry out a bit, and then in the afternoon, out with the baler, avoiding the really boggy areas so we didn’t get stuck.
We were quite pleased after a couple of hours when we had 150 bales, that was until we tried to lift them. Each one was weighed down with water and extemely heavy. It was also getting dark but we had to get them under cover. We soldiered on in the pitch black until we had them all under a tarpaulin and then crawled off to bed.
Each day if there is a glimpse of the sun, we uncover them. Of course once we turn our backs the rain starts and we have to rush out to wrestle with the soaking wet and flapping tarpaulin. It is highly unlikely that they will be edible so we shall just have to bite the bullet and buy some in. Somebody out there must have had more luck with the weather than us!
On a more cheerful note, we picked up our Suffolk tup for this year and introduced him to the girls, they didn’t reject him quite as badly as last year’s tup so he must be better looking, maybe the Brad Pitt of the sheep world! We put a crayon on him so we can tell when he’s done his thing and make a note the ewe’s ear tag number. That way we will have an idea of when they are due to lamb next year. Already there are some red rumps out there so we know he’s off to a good start!
Due to the awful weather, we haven’t been able to do much tracking with Toby, so instead we’ve been working with him indoors and here’s his latest Tobeo!
This month has been particularly wet here and pretty warm too. Sadly frosty mornings, where the dogs come home dry, seem to be a thing of the past. At the end of every walk, the “dog-o-matic”, otherwise known as a watering can, comes out and they all get a cold shower. Soaking wet towels, litter the porch and we can’t dry them fast enough. The hayfield has developed a couple of large puddles or mini-lakes and we discovered that Toby loves them, he’s a real water baby! The others avoid paddling but he rushes in with such enthusiasm and sprays us all in his wake. Unfortunately, he’s quite partial to a mud bath too!
Because of the poor weather conditions the ewes and lambs are still inside as we don’t want to risk letting them out into the sodden fields. However, they are all in one large pen together so the babies have lots of friends to play with.
Toby finished his puppy classes with flying colours. He performed his “Bang Bang” trick at the end of term party in front of everyone. We were worried that he would be too excited to go through with it on the night, but he did us proud.
Next month he starts Junior classes and we are looking forward to continuing his clicker training as he is doing so well. Notwithstanding the fact that the journey too and fro is a bit of a nightmare, as there have been so many road closures with diversions of up to 20 miles along winding roads. This has caused poor Toby to be sick on the long drive there. Thankfully, on the way home, he’s usually so exhausted, he sleeps all the way!
His relationship with Jack, our Border Collie has improved 100%. They are now best friends and wrestle together for hours, albeit rather noisily!
It’s always a stressful time when haymaking comes around. We are glued to the weather forecast, looking frantically for that small window of sunshine when we will be able to cut the grass.
This year has been appalling, every single day, except one, the heavens have opened and the field has been drenched.
For the last few weeks we have all been weaving our way through the long grass on our morning walks. We can’t play with the Pullers as they would quickly be lost. In fact, we have lost the dogs on more than one occasion.
The shame of it is, that this year the grass looks fantastic and would make lovely hay, if only we had the opportunity.
Even with a day of sunshine, it’s not going to dry the ground enough to drive the tractor over.
We are trying to hold our nerve and wait until August to see if the weather improves but if it doesn’t we may have to ask our neighbour to make large round bales of haylage. These will be wrapped in black plastic, therefore not needing to be dried. We are really hoping we don’t have to go down this route as the large bales are difficult to handle and have a short shelf life once opened.
However, it would be better to have haylage that no winter food at all for our beasts!
The weather has been very odd for this time of year. November began very warm, we were walking around outside in short sleeved t-shirts. Then there was a cold spell, with a spot of snow, but now it’s warm once again. So warm in fact that we have roses in bloom!
It’s been a busy month. The sheep were shipped off to the mart, including the bullying tup and it’s a relief to be able to walk in the fields again without fear of being butted! We got a decent amount for them, despite dire warnings of low prices.
Two of the goats have visited a billy and appear to be in kid, due next April.
The chickens too, can walk about without worrying about attack, as the cat was humanely captured in a fiendishly clever trap and taken in by a local animal sanctuary for rehoming.
Our Chistmas preparations are nearing completion. With the installation of the new Rayburn, it was necessary to redecorate the whole kitchen which has been a nightmare of a job. The last time any work was done in there, was the 1970’s! It’s just about ready, in time for our family to arrive for the festive season. At least the house will be warm this year and we won’t have to wear woolly hats and scarves indoors.
The tree has been cut, which was rather nervewracking as it was 40ft tall and we only wanted the last 8ft!
We plan a quiet day with plenty of good food and board games, topped off with the Downton Christmas special!
Here’s hoping that you all have a wonderful stress free Noel and best wishes for the New Year.
We were very excited at the prospect of baling the hay from our newly reseeded field, but as usual, the weather has put a bit of a dampener on it. It needs to be hot and dry to ensure that we have plenty of decent winter fodder for our animals, but It has been neither of those things. In fact, it has been completely the opposite.
There have had a couple of very nice days but almost every single one of them has included rain at some point, either at the start or at the end.
The grass was getting long and thickening up nicely, with some beautiful seed heads breaking out – just crying out for cutting – but whenever we thought about taking the plunge, the heavens would open and rain on our parade!
In the end we felt we could wait no longer, and after a dryish couple of days we did cut it. Then, true to form and before we even got the mower back in the barn, the rain returned and refused to give us a break.
After a week or so we had another not-so-wet spell, and out came the wuffler to turn and fluff up the drying stalks. Once again, the rain came just as we were finishing off. It seemed like the tractor was persued around the field by a huge black cloud!
Despite this, we are still hopeful of a reasonable crop if we can hold our nerve. The hay is slowly drying out (between showers!), and if we can just string together 2 or 3 dry days, we might get away with it. But of course, that will depend on the weather…
We were enjoying the lovely spring weather and basking in the sunshine. The ewes with their offspring had all been turned out onto lush green pasture and the lambs were relying less on milk and beginning to nibble the grass. Everything was going well and we were discussing how much hay we were expecting to get from our newly reseeded field.
The forecast had said that the temperature was going to drop but we wern’t completely taken by surprise when the chilly but sunny morning turned into a wintry blizzard!
The snow came down thick and fast, huge white flakes settling on the ground and everything else. We couldn’t believe that in a couple of hours it was inches thick and still coming.
There is a small hut in the sheep field but it certainly isn’t large enought ot house the whole flock, so we battled our way through the snow storm to shepherd all of them into the shed. It was a bit of a squash but at least they were all tucked up warmly for the night. We didn’t want to risk losing any lambs due to the weather, not when they had come this far. There were no objections from the sheep, they couldn’t get inside fast enough!
Although both us and the sheep were horrified by the turn of events, the dogs were delighted, barking with excitement and playing wild games in the snow, all except Fin, who laid down and after only a few minutes, resembled a snow dog.
The following morning it was still there, thick as ever but the sun was out, melting it rapidly. By the end of the day only a few patches were left and we returned to our previously green landscape, turning the sheep back out into their paddock.
That was definitely the worse snow we have had all winter and hopefully we can now move safely through spring without any more hitches.
We discover a sickly lamb, just in the nick of time
We were doing our morning rounds after a particularly wild and stormy night when we noticed that one of the lambs was missing.
After racing over to the paddock, we discovered her laying on her side in a muddy puddle unable to get to her feet.
Luckily she was still alive but only just. We immediately bundled her into a wheelbarrow and rolled her back to the shed.
Once inside we tipped her out onto a thick bed of straw, propped her up with a square bale and then hung the heat lamp above her to try and stop her shivers.
Next we had to try and get something inside her and since it was obvious that she was in no condition to eat anything, we filled a syringe with a ketosis drench (used for twin lamb syndrome) and squirted that down her throat.
For the next few hours we monitored her progress as she gradually returned to the land of the living, giving her another drench and making sure she had water and some hay to nibble on.
Within a couple of days she had made a remarkable recovery and could was eating normally but was still off her feet, so we lifted her up and held her until she got her balance.
She is now back to normal and baaing loudly for food every time we walk into the shed. She will soon be fit enough to re-join the others outside.
Even though they have a shelter in their field, they rarely seem to use it, so we think she must have fallen over in the storm and wore herself out trying to get back up.
We went from knee deep mud to knee deep snow almost overnight and then back to mud again
Last month we mentioned the lack of snow. We should have kept our mouths shut as this month we have been inundated with it, as has most of the country.
At first it was a relief to swap the thick mud for the lovely clean snow. However, it didn’t last long as the snow got deeper and it became more and more difficult to feed the animals.
Everything was freezing, the water barrels that served the livestock had a thick layer of ice on top and no sooner had we filled them up, than they were starting to freeze. Dragging a wheelbarrow full of hay or buckets of feed across a snowy paddock was not much fun either.
However, there were some who were absolutely delighted with the change in the weather, the dogs.
They absolutely loved it. Fin guzzled it down like ice cream and the two youngsters played in it happily for hours. They obviously don’t suffer from cold paws like we do.
As the snow started to disappear we were left with treacherous ice which was even more of a feeding challenge.
Now, sadly we are back to mud with a side order of gale force winds!
Whilst most of the country has been virtually under water, we too have had our fair share of rain and there have been huge “lakes” in the fields, but thankfully, we have not suffered flooding.
Of course, there is another side effect of all that water – mud.
We have been wading in it for weeks now, although the biggest problem is of course the dogs.
The big ginger Fin isn’t too bad as he doesn’t race around like the other two. But Daisy, with her fondness for chasing tractors along the hedge line, is usually smothered. Archie likes to join in the chase, but chases her instead.
It’s got to the point where we long for snow just so that we can have clean dogs.
We’ve developed a sophisticated system for cleaning them after their morning and evening runs, we call it the Dog-o-matic. Otherwise known as a watering can.
We had the perfect rose fitted on the spout, until someone who will remain nameless, ran over it with his tractor!
Daisy hates the Dog-o-matic and grumbles all the way through her twice daily rinses, Archie puts up with it and conveniently lifts his legs so that you can get to his filthy underbelly, but Fin absolutely loves it and tries to push to the front of the soggy queue.
Here’s hoping we have some decent weather soon so that we can all dry out.