Thursday, 19 November 2020

Saturday, 14 November 2020

Tupping time!

We bought a new Herdwick tup earlier this week, and he went out with the Herdwick ewes on Thursday.   We were worried there wasn't going to be a Rare Breeds sale at Dingwall this year as the one earlier in the year was cancelled.  So when I saw a Herdwick tup for sale on Facebook, in Scotland, we contacted the seller and here we are, proud owners of Richie Gray! 

Peter the Suffolk tup went out with the Cheviots (and few remained Zwartble crosses) last Sunday.  Whenever Farmer went to check them, he would leave the ewes and start following the quad bike. Farmer deduced he was hungry and started taking him a few nuts each day.  


It has been very wet! 


Here is Richie Gray in his finery.



 

Wednesday, 28 October 2020

Autumn sheep work

Sheep don't automatically know how to eat hay or the sheep food we give them as a supplement.  Every year in the autumn Farmer has to teach the hoggs (the ewe lambs) how to feed.  This involves gathering them in and putting them in to the building.  He puts a ewe or two in with them to set a good example.  It takes a few days but gradually they catch on that the lamb nuts being sprinkled in to the troughs are rather delicious and they start to tuck in.  Similarly they start eating the hay slowly too!   Occasionally we have problems with one or two of them becoming unwell from a vitamin deficiency and so Farmer has a bottle of Vitamin B1 on hand to give them which sorts them out.  

By the end of the winter the hoggs will be used to being fed and know exactly what is in the feed bag Farmer might be carrying with him.  This will stand them in good stead later on should they ever be ill and need to be brought into the shed, or if they are having twins and they need some supplementary feeding. 



Here they are tucking to the hay in the hay feeders having finished most of the nuts in the troughs! 


The Herdwicks are a flock on their own, and they always enjoy the sight of a feed bag over Farmer's shoulder.  Because they live on the in-bye fields they are fed most of the winter. 





 

Thursday, 8 October 2020

Weaning calves


It is always a sad day when the calves are weaned and go off to market.  The cows holler and call for their calves, roaming around the fields looking for them after they have gone.

Before we bought our own cows our neighbour used to graze his cattle here in the summer.  When it was time for the calves to be weaned he would walk the cows back over to his farm, the calves would go from there to market in a lorry, and the cows would be put on to his own hill again.  Several times we woke in the morning the day after the calves had gone to find his cows had made their own way back to Treshnish searching for their calves.  

In these photographs the cows are calling for their calves.  It was morning and the calves had just gone. By the afternoon they had started drifting off to the other side of the hill park to graze.






The next morning Farmer walked them down towards Haunn and they went into Scoma. The bull chivalrously waited until all the cows had reached the gate before he went through himself.  



 

Wednesday, 30 September 2020

Farming activity in September

 

Spider near the dog kennels


We had a meeting with some advisors working on a new pilot scheme for delivering biodiversity within a sound farming system. It was lovely out on the Point, and we saw Carline thistle flowering and even a bit of Wood bitter vetch. 

The Bog asphodel looks amazing in it's orange incarnation. So much of it this year. 


Sadly we also came across a Meadowpipit having been predated on by a bird of prey. 

We had a shipping container delivered which is going to help with the storage of additional bedding between uses.



Jamie's cows and calves are happy. Plenty of grass. 






We cut one field a year for silage under our AECS agreement, and this year it was the Haunn field's turn.  As we don't feed silage to our sheep we need to find another farmer to help make it and then take the silage for their animals.  Last year the Reades from Sgriob ruadh (they make the famed Isle of Mull Cheese) baled and wrapped it, after Farmer had mown and rowed it up.  It worked well, and luckily for us, they were happy to do the same this year.   

Our bird friendly silage agreement is that we must make the silage after the 1st of September. We always hope for some dry weather but last year September was wet and it wasn't until the 1st of October that the silage was made.  This year with better weather, it was made on the 18th of September on a beautiful autumn day.  Farmer did the mowing one day and it was rowed up and baled the next day.  By the time I got down there with the drone it was all baled and Farmer was the lone machine in the field bringing the bales up to the corner so they could be loaded onto the Sgriob ruadh trailer. 


I love how different the landscape looks when the field is cut. 





Jamie's four girls. 


Farmer and I went to Crackaig and down the zigzag path late one afternoon. He wanted to check the ewes out there. During the last 2 lambings he has been collecting plastics off the shore and has filled several dumpy bags.  2 of them he was able to get home, but there is one bag down below Crackaig which is too far for him to carry, nowhere near access by quad bike.   He was worried that the bag would biodegrade in the sunlight and the contents would be scattered again.  To buy a bit more time, whilst I flew my drone he managed to persuade the older dumpy bag into a newer one, so the contents are secure for a little while longer.  It would also need a helicopter to pick it up.  Other ideas on a postcard please. 







Usually at this time of year we start thinking about buying new tups, and on the 27th we headed over to Glengorm to choose one of their Blackface shearlings.  We also picked up a Suffolk from Lettermore on the way back.  

We have several different groups at tupping time this year: Cheviots to Suffolk, Blackface to Blackface, Blackface to Cheviot, Herdwick to Herdwick, Herdwick to Cheviot, and Cheviot to Cheviot.  

What a month! 




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