It has been a busy time since the little white calf was born. I flew to New York for a much planned reunion - 60th birthday year - with my best friends from university days. We spent our time together in the Hamptons on Long Island, visiting wineries, eating, drinking and laughing. We are now planning to reunite much more often!
While I was away the calf got Flystrike. This is very nasty, sometimes occurring in sheep, but we have always treated in the early summer to prevent it happening. The weather turned quite warm in mid September, blowflies hatched and became attracted to my calf. The flies lay eggs near the back end of the animal by any poo bits, the eggs hatch and the maggots hatch and eat into the flesh. Horrible. Dan noticed it right away, as the calf was flicking his tail constantly at the irritation. Treatment was applied and maggots are gone. His back end has been covered in Iodine so the calf is now white with a yellowish rear. I am calling him ‘Fried Egg’. He is happy and healthy and we have learned a valuable lesson.
My biggest steer was set off to the abattoir last week. He was 3 and a half years old, with the longest horns ever. The horns on a steer grow any which way after they are castrated. Sometimes they turn up and look like a cow’s horns, very symmetrical. Other times they shoot off in different directions, one up, one down. When we were in Scotland the abattoirs refused to accept horned animals so we had to dehorn them when young. I did not like doing this as their horns are very much part of their character. Our abattoir is local and small and we are grateful they have no such policy. The carcass will hang for about 25 days, so we’ll have beef to sell in a few weeks.
There has been much to and fro-ing with the cattle and the sheep in the last couple of weeks. The bridleway has been a cattle highway, to the surprise of a few walkers. We have to block their path temporarily but they usually enjoy seeing the cattle saunter down the lane. I have to think about where the livestock will be for winter grazing, making sure of course that the bull is kept away from the heifers.
The rams will join the ewes in early November for ‘tupping’, and the ewes are in ‘flushing’ stage, that is, getting them in tip top condition on best grass to promote fertility. We moved the two ram lambs into the field with my four other rams and thankfully they were not bullied.
On top of all the farming activity, our holiday cottage building project is now underway. I’m the reluctant project manager. More about that next time.
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.