Tuesday, 7 July 2015

In clover

Veronica. Unusually nosy for her!

It has been an intense week this week. Although we often do lots of different activities, the pace we go at is usually fairly relaxed, but not this week. First of all Ian moved the sheep from where they have been all spring to somewhere nearer to what they would consider civilisation (being herd animals and only three of them, I think they miss the company). The poor things were so hot, but we did make sure their feeding ground include trees for shelter, but did they use it – no of course not! They had to sit in the hottest spot next to the gate.
The sheep were over this hill behind Ian taking the photo.
He then moved them all the way over to a spot to the
left of the greenhouse. They were very good and didn't
scamper off at all. I think it was just too hot

If you don't examine them too carefully, they look much
better today. Still, if they could, they would change their
hairdresser
The reason for moving them nearer to civilisation was to bring them closer to an electric point so we could shear them using the mains electric and not a generator. It went so well at first, we managed to stop any of them escaping first of all and we then tied their legs together to stop them running off while we sheared. Before you think we were being cruel, you have to remember these are animals that cleared a four foot wooden fence by scrabbling over it. If these sheep did not get sheared that day, they weren't going to get sheared for quite a while and in the heat we had this week, it was the less cruel option. Unfortunately Ian has not been on a sheep shearing course and the finish was not very professional, in fact they looked a proper dog’s breakfast - if you get what I mean. Still they fairly skipped around in the rain yesterday. Better than the big wool coat they were wearing.
Brencis looking gorgeous
Brencis' fleece. You can see it is definitely not pure white

The instrument of torture ..errr I mean
the hoist. We need to find a wider belt
for it, but at least the principle worked.
It was funny holding Snowdrop
because she would audibly sigh as she
was being milked. I think it was a relief
Although Snowdrop lost her baby last week, she was quite full of milk. Rather than waste it and because we know that she is likely to have problems feeding a baby in the future, it is always good to have spare so we milked her. That is now in the freezer – not much but at least it is something - a feed's worth. It may contain colostrum, but I'm not sure if colostrum is always the first lot of milk or whether it is only within 24 hours. We did try to milk her while she was pinned down for shearing but it didn't work. We then tried it while she was standing up, but she kept cushing (the alpaca term for sitting down with their legs underneath them, which of course means it is impossible to milk her like that. In the end Ian made a hoist to stop her cushing. I'm glad to say it worked well.
Wheat and Poppies - not red ones though

Amaranth. These have been competing
well with the weeds and Ian has been
able to keep just ahead with these.
We have also got quite a bit of weeding done, but there is not much to show for it, although I did find some carrots and dill, not many, but they are at least there. Of course at this time of year, if you don't keep on top of the weeding, the weeds tend to take over. We had some old seed and a bad year for germination and that hasn't helped. I have some carrots going to seed in the greenhouse, so that should give us plenty of carrot seed for next year and I shall buy some fresh seed from a seed company, so that we have a good genetic mix of carrots. I let enough carrots go to seed for our own use, but not enough to make sure they provide us with healthy plants genetically in the future.
Lots of wonderful flowers at this time of the year and until
Monday was blissfully relatively free of biting insects.
Monday the really large horse flies suddenly appeared.
They look like something out of a horror movie, but
fortunately they are so loud, you can hear them coming
and be prepared. It is the pesky small ones that are harder
to get.

Because we haven't got any chick pictures
this week, here is one of Eyre looking
sleepy. She has been ever so good at going
to sleep in the toilet area of the caravan when
we have been sleeping in it. She is quiet until
we wake up.
Talking of genetics, we are have bred some lovely looking chickens, with gorgeous black or grey feathers, unfortunately we seem to have bred out any sign of intelligence at the same time. All our other chickens have only taken about three days maximum to get the idea that when food is put in the back of the ark, that means it is time to go away for the night. The food is an incentive to go into the box to be fastened up. However, this lot have been chased around the ark lots of times to catch them. It would be the most awkward ark too. It was designed as a small ark for chicks to go on the floor, but then we extended it upwards to give them more room and there isn't as much access for humans. At least they are finally getting the idea, apart from one and even that one is finally getting it. It tends to look around as if to say, "where has everyone gone?" before the penny drops and into the box it goes, a good minute after the others. I do hope the folks that got their siblings are not having the same bother.
Sour dough bread buns freshly baked for
lunch

The sweetcorn is doing well in the greenhouse
Apart from all that it was an intense hay cutting, baling and shifting week. We reckon we may have shifted about 4 ½ tonnes and I have certainly walked miles behind tractor. The good news is that it would seem the UK got our heatwave and we only had to put up with temperatures around 28C (82) and not over 30C (86F) like we normally do. I certainly felt the benefit. I don't even feel particularly sore, just like I have done a lot of work.
Some of the cuttings from one of the grapevines in the
greenhouse seems to have taken. We aim to plant these
ones outside and see how they will do there.

The rain on Monday battered some of our oats. Not sure if
we will get anything out of this bit. It maybe okay. It is
not as if we need to harvest it with a combine harvester.
We might just use the scythe 
One of the first things we had to do was shift some of last years hay that we still had in our neighbours barn down to our place to make room for the new hay. While we were doing that our neighbour came into the barn carrying two freshly baked goodies, straight out of the oven. She was supplying the camp nearby with things like cinamon rolls, biezpiena rolls (kind of like a cross between cottage cheese and curd cheese in a sweet roll) and pizzas. They were absolutely gorgeous and much appreciated. She does look after us.
Tomatoes are starting to form on our plants now

Looking down from the top of the ski hill at the area
we cut, baled and cleared

This is to the left of the picture above
A remnant from the Soviet era. The signage
on this electric pole is in Russian
It was close but we managed to get all of this year's hay into the barn and stacked in the space we were allowed. I think we could have only got one or two more bales in. We had around 70 bales leftover from last year, and over 180 new ones. That will be more than enough and means we do not have to worry about trying to bale and stack any more from the land. We needed more in past years because we didn't have any where to stack it to keep it dry and ended up throwing a lot of it away. It feels very nice to know that won't be as much of a problem this time around.

Not the strawberries I picked after the hay stacking but ones
I cut up to dry. The strawberries are huge and tasty this year
and we have been having them on our breakfast all week.
Such a hard life!
I feel like a true farmer this year. We knew some rain was coming, so got all the hay collected and stacked and since the rain was imminent Ian went and baled hay we had cut around the side of our greenhouse that had been re-seeded a year or so ago and was lush and tall not like most of the hay this year. I also went and collected all the ripe strawberries because the expected rain was due to be heavy and I didn’t want to waste them. We just finished those jobs as the first few spots of rain began to fall, at that point we finally went and ate and then slept for an hour or so. I don't even feel that bad today. I thought I would have been quite stiff, but I just feel like I have over done it yesterday and need to take it easy today. So not bad, must be getting stronger each year, or not as drained in the lower temperatures maybe.
These four bales of hay came from the side and rear of the
greenhouse

Three bales from this section and one from behind

The uncut patch is to keep everyone guessing what we are
up to :) or the other explanation is to allow the clover (the
purple splodge in the middle that you can see) to go to
seed and spread around that area. The grass in that area is
rather thin and so hopefully the clover will add some
fertility
We have found that the hay every year is very different due to the growing conditions.  Often the grass is tall, but the cool, dry spring meant this year's hay was on the short side and not so dense. What we have noticed though is a huge increase in clover. I have identified at least three sorts, possibly four. There was also vetches and lady’s bedstaw in abundance. So the hay will be very scented and possibly rather fattening with all the leguminous plants– so not much grain supplement will be needed for our boys this next year, they are fat enough as it is.

2 comments:

ju-north said...

Congrats on getting the hay in. Whá a huge area! You should be proud of yourselves!

Joanna said...

Thanks Ju. It is five acres, which means the tonnage off the land is not huge, but then again it is a ski hill and not as good as a lowland flat area. Maybe we will get more hay if the clover increases :)