Sunday, 12 May 2013

Back to the farm, for a minute

My last few posts have been a little short on farming news, overtaken by the beauty of the coastline on a sunny evening or discovering a bank of primroses.  Rest assured Farmer has kept himself busy in the meantime.

Lambing is in its 4th week and the in-bye flock have 99% lambed. We have 3 bottle fed lambs in the field shelter next to Studio called Domino, Daisy and Daffodil. 

Thankfully the grass is beginning to grow now, but the recent wet weather has been cruel to the lambs.  Farmer was checking the sheep first thing this morning in the rain, and noticed a pair of twins getting up and shaking themselves - water spraying off their backs - as they followed their mother away from the quad. Not like previous lambings where we have been picking sea salt off the rocks below the house, because the rock pools have been evaporating in the heat....  Not the year of the sunbathing lamb, but the lamb struggling to keep warm.

But compared to farmers in other parts of the country we have had it easy, and it is good to remember that sometimes, when things get you down.  Some farmers have had to face difficulties that must really have been hard to bear.  To lose a ewe or a lamb is always difficult to accept. Could the death have been avoided? Could you have done more? Was it your fault? Is it just me?  All sorts of thoughts go through your head. I came across Jim Fairlie's blog via Twitter, he started up the Perth Farmers Markets.  His story reminded me of how our weather has been nothing like as extreme as in other places. How lucky we are in fact. 

All the older hill ewes who had lambed in the fields are back on the hill now.  They are useful winter grazing tools. They help clean up the tufts on the grassland before the fields are shut off from the sheep to allow the summer flowers to grow. 

The bull is doing his duties with the cows on the hill.  Once the weather improves they will come back onto the in-bye fields.  The last cow to calve is out with the herd now. We have never had a cow not calve here, but she is very late so we are watching her carefully.  It may be that she is not in calf, but only time will tell.  

The complicated programme of shutting off certain fields for certain amounts of time has started, with frequent referring looks back at the contract to make sure we are doing it right.

Some days have been very low mist when actually it is impossible to go to the hill to check the sheep, so Farmer has been doing wet weather jobs like sorting out the workshop. Political correctness made the Walkers sign redundant as the terminology now is Pathusers rather than walkers, so we do not discriminate against cyclists or people on horseback...

The new hens haven't started laying yet, and collecting the eggs today, I think some of the hens have started nesting elsewhere.  The 'hen hiding their nest, us trying to find it' game begins again....

Lady's mantle catching the rain drops. We are quite lucky as we have a good amount of in-bye and enough hill to support the number of ewes that we keep. For some of the higher hill farms, where it is colder and less fertile, they are suffering from ewes without milk as well as effects from the wet weather.

The old tin shed from outside Middle Cottage is to be saved and re-used after all!  I am so relieved.  A few bits of timber that have been knocking around the shed are going to restore the shed to its former glory and it is going to be re-located down near the sea, a perfect spot for shelter whilst sea watching. 

The 'tattie lifter'.

We are anxiously watching the areas of coast, hill and field which were treated against bracken last summer.  Everything is a lot later this year coming out - so we perhaps shouldn't get our hopes up, but it is encouraging that there aren't many fronds showing yet.

Seedlings self sown in the polytunnel.  A little haphazard so far the gardening...

Long awaited repairs to the lochan dam wall are taking place at the moment, and it will be exciting to see the lochan restored to its former glory, once it is finished.  Farmer has been wanting to repair this since we moved here in 1994 so he is very excited. We will fence off the other end to allow an improved wetland habitat to develop again, and to stop the sheep from grazing in to the shallows and getting stuck in the peaty mud.

Occasional sunsets excelling themselves, each one more special than the last. Studio and Shieling enjoy the light here. 

Shian and Duill enjoy it too.

A wander below the house with a couple more bags of sea plastic collected, this time lots of bottles with liquid in them so the bags were quite heavy.  Apparently you shouldn't open the bottles as you don't know what might be in them...

Collecting up a couple of bags of sea plastic, these bags of emergency water have been around for a while. 

Rose-root beginning to flower.

This rowan would be a good height by now, judging by the base of it, but it keeps being eaten back by the sheep and the cows.

The first Butterwort.

The first Lousewort.

Remains of a meal.

Scurvy grass and rope.

Huge bunch of king cup beside a rock pool.

We had seen Sea Campion (food of the Grey moth) on the Point last week but it was not out in flower yet.  

Scurvy grass.

Caught on the fence, between Wigwam1 and Wigwam2.

Farmer was glad to see that the clover is beginning to come in Wigwam2 field (what a name I know, but it was the name that arose from when we had put our tipi up down at the boathouse (c. 1995!) and the late Jon Newton, who advised us on organic sheep farming, always referred to the two fields as Wigwam1 or Wigwam2 depending on which side of the dividing fence he was on). 

We inadvertently upset some greylags. 

Cap has a habit of rolling in the smelliest matter he can find in a field, and today he excelled himself and then tried to rub it off on us at any opportunity.  (note to guests: if he looks green, keep your distance!)

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