Sunday, 27 July 2014

Moving into new pasture

I have been away a lot this month, hence the break in almost daily wild flower blog posts!  Whilst it is amazing to be in the position to be able to go away, it is always hard to leave Treshnish (and perhaps I should say Farmer), particularly at this time of year when there is a lot happening.  

Shearing was the big task- all the gathering and sorting to be done before and after the fleeces have been shorn.  I left Farmer in good hands as our friend A was here and he would produce better shearing catering than I would!

While I was away Iain T and JH came to do the shearing.  It was a long day for them as there were more sheep to shear than they had expected.  Farmer was hugely relieved when they were done.  Farmer and J from Dervaig put the lambs through the fank. And as expected A cooked up a storm for the clipping shed.

The next gather will be to start sorting the lambs.   The Mull based haulier sold his livestock lorry so over the winter we have equipped ourselves with a livestock trailer and a 4x4 capable of pulling it.  This means we can sort out small batches of lambs and go to several different sales rather than putting all our eggs in one basket (or lambs in one huge lorry) at only one sale.  Hopefully it will make it less of a lottery.   It will be a lot more work for Farmer in that instead of selling all the lambs on one day, he will probably have to go to 4/5 different markets doing it himself.

The fields are changing colours again as the Knapweed and the Devil's Bit Scabious start to flower now.  These next few photographs are from the field, Wigwam 2, which we are cutting for silage this year.    The management plan we have for the fields dictates that we cut in September, so we have just over 4 weeks until we can cut it, even though it would have been wonderful to have made hay during the spell of fine hot weather last week.

The harebells are flowering now too, these were in the shade of a birch tree.

Devils Bit Scabious.



The weather has been amazing while I have been away.  Really hot.  The field with no name where the cows are grazing just now reminded me of photographs of the steppes, the dry grass seed heads gently blowing in the wind.  The Meadowsweet popping up above the grasses.  Cows and their calves sitting contentedly cudding in the sun.

This bullock enjoying a bit of birch.  No wonder we need to fence off the old trees from livestock to allow natural regeneration.

Farmer had been out to check the cows this morning and appeared to be short of 2 heads.  The herd was all quiet and calm so it was unlikely that anyone was really missing but we needed to make sure. This field with its knolls and dips can make it hard to count properly as a cow and its calf can disappear behind a knoll without you realising.  So we went together to get a better count.  Four eyes better than two. We counted the right number thankfully.  It was very calm wandering in the field, looking at the different heathers coming into flower and enjoy the late afternoon sunshine.

The field behind Shian and Duill will be cut for silage in early August, whenever the weather allows. This field had an application of fertiliser put on as part of an experiment for the soil nutrient monitoring project we are taking part in - one of 7 farms in Scotland to take part.  It will be interesting to see if the fertiliser has made any different to the yield from the field.   I am hoping it won't make any difference. Farmer doesn't think it will make any difference.   We allowed this field to be part of the project because it is not one of our biodiversity rich fields!

I hate to say it but it definitely feels as if we are passing from mid summer into late summer now, the grasses are all flowering and the angelicas and cow parsleys going to seed.

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Gathering the Point

Farmer and family are back from a lovely holiday.  The Haunn field has changed colour in our absence!  And we finally got the Coronation Meadow badges up on the gates!

Whilst we have been away the shearing contractors have been busy shearing everyone else's sheep and we are now trying to catch up.  Step one in preparation is to gather the Cheviots and Zwartbles off the Point.  With steep drops and cliffs all round Farmer does more leg work than the dogs.   This morning he opened the gates onto the next field to encourage them through at their own pace.  This afternoon we went back to pick up the stragglers. 

There was one Cheviot lamb on its own.  Farmer and the dogs at his heel got him to move up towards the others.

We found last years bottle fed Zwarties had grazed themselves onto a ledge, and so Farmer had to go and try and encourage them off.

Unfortunately because they are still fairly tame, they wanted to come towards him (rather than wanting to get as far away as possible) so his usually successful tactic of much whistling and calling did not frighten them to safety as it normally does!  After this they moved up a level and were much nearer the flats but he decided to leave them to find their own way up the next bit onto the level.   He will go back and check on them tomorrow.

Checking down to the raised beach on the north west side of the Point.

Remains of a kill.

A straggling ewe and her lambs give Farmer and the dogs a bit of a run around, but all ends well and they return to the others - eventually!

More of the Haunn field flowers...

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