I arrived home on Thursday afternoon after a quick 8 day trip to the USA to see family. Gorgeous weather to come home to. Then up at 5 am on Friday morning to load a bullock (the one who nicked me!) onto the trailer and deliver him to the abattoir. No time to deal with jet-lag! The carcass will be collected by my butcher in Dorchester, hung for a few weeks and I’ll see him again all neatly packaged up and ready to sell.
The weather has continued though the weekend and so much to catch-up on.
Saturday and Sunday we moved the cattle around, had to take bullocks from one group and put with the bull. Shifted another group off the farthest field up by the Wessex Ridgeway. It is always careful planning trying to get them all together to walk/jog up or down the bridleway which runs through the middle of the farm. All went fairly well. The cows and calves were to end up on Crabbe hill, a good mile walk. The stopped about a third of the way and decided they liked the grassy field they walked to. We tried to move them back onto the bridleway, they walked a short distance, refused to go any further, turned around and walked back to the field. These cows are usually pretty cooperative and calm. So I let them stay for the rest of the day and night. Then on Sunday we got Richard on board. I led the cattle out, following the Ranger UTV like they do, while Dan and Richard came up behind. And when they slowed down they got a little whack on the bum.
Sheep needed attention, too. Some very dirty bums, meaning they problaby have worms. Cleaned them up, really quite mucky work, trimmed a few feet and all good.
Off to collect lamb sausages tomorrow.
Not the best weekend. On Sunday I went to give the bull and his companion bullock a bit of cattle muesli. It doesn’t taste good, I’ve tried it. Anyway, a careless moment on my part, bullock spooked by the bull when eating from their buckets, he jumped and caught me on the forehead. Blood spurting out, I yelled for Richard and Dan, not in a calm manner, supposing I was going to bleed to death. They made me sit down and shut up.
Off to the Bridport Minor Injures Unit for the second time in a few short weeks. I walk in with a bloody face and hands and clothes. The same nurse who stitched my arm was there to greet me! This time they used super glue, which may not heal as beautifully, but my with wrinkly face it probably won’t make any difference.
Three sheep to the abattoir on the 7th. Two were older ewes who have had numbers of lambs. They were my first on the farm, bought in-lamb, and mothers of the first born on my farm. But it was time for them to go, and I sent a wether, too. Off we went to the abattoir bright and early. Only one vehicle before us to unload and as the woman was struggling with her reversing up to the ramp, I volunteered Richard to do it. Very handy to have an expert reverser person. Archie is also brilliant, I am rubbish. My butcher will collect, the old ewes will become beautiful hogget sausages! The wether will provide us with very delicious 'lamb' joints for next next couple of months.
On Thursday we were off to the Melton Mowbray market for the RBST (Rare Breed Survival Trust) annual Show and Sale. My two beautiful shearling rams were loaded up and on their way, hopefully, to a new home. Friday was show day. The market is full of gorgeous rare breed sheep, hundreds of them. Portland are clearly the most beautiful, petite, creamy white fleece, lovely tan faces, with their graceful horns. Fifteen Portland rams competed and Beaver got a Third. Very interesting, as Bongo, my other ram, received a First and Third in other shows this summer, Bongo got a Fourth. Beaver is the bigger ram and I think the judge felt Bongo slightly small. I beg to differ. Portland sheep must not lose one of their breed characteristics, that is a small size. Some of the rams are getting very large and will breed larger ewes. Petite is beautiful and functional.
Sale day dragged on. Good chat with the other Portland breeders, but we were all getting impatient. Waiting, waiting for the Portlands to be sold. Every year we are the last to go. Honestly, I just would like my rams to get a fair price and go to good homes. There were fewer buyers than usual, not a good sign. I put on a reserve, as decided I would rather take them home than give them away. Prices were not brilliant, but Beaver did well, as did Bongo, both reaching their reserve price. And both to good homes as far as I can tell. Bongo went down the road to Devon. Beaver went to a Portland breeder who also has other rare breed sheep. They will both be well looked after.
Jo Stover has daily adventures on her small farm, together with her Highland cattle and Portland sheep, bees, a few hens, dogs, and some two-legged family and friends.