The weather has been unpredicitable - not very warm, then wet and windy, foggy, cool - not much of a summer so far. Dan’s bees are struggling, as are bees all over the UK. There has been an official alert by the British Beekeeper’s Association, due to the weather. Poor bees, they need a couple weeks of warmth and sunshine. Our wildflower meadow is beginning to fade but it still is full of buzzing when the sum comes out.
We moved the group of cattle off Crabbe Hill, all the way down to the far end of the farm. They were well behaved and the older experienced cows knew they were heading for a fresh pasture and led the way beautifully. After a couple of days, once they settled in, I was able to get Spot On applied. This helps keep flies from biting them and is applied on their backs. As they walked through a gateway I gave them the squirt with the gun applicator, much to their surprise.
The sheep all get a similar application called Clik. Flies can be a deadly experience for sheep. They bite the pooey backside and lay their eggs. The maggots hatch and eat away at the flesh of the sheep. Disgusting, and horrendous for the poor sheep. Luckily we have products that prevent this happening. I wait until they are shorn of their fleeces, then each sheep gets sprayed down the back and around the backside, the lambs, too. I also apply a bit of the Clik around the horns of the rams, as the flies can burrow into this damp tight space.
The Portland lambs are growing quickly. The first born ram lambs are getting nearly as big as the smaller ewes. Their horns are distinct, the rams quite thick already. The horns of these young sheep are still fragile. We discovered a ewe lamb with a broken horn, just a stump exposed, when we were vaccinating the lambs with their second dose of Heptavac P. She likely got it caught on a fence and pulled away, breaking it. She didn’t seem bothered and I sprayed the area with an antibiotic to prevent any infection. It appears to be growing again. I’ve never had this happen before but it is not uncommon. I do try never to hold on to a lamb by its horns and will be even more careful in the future.
We finally had two fields cut for Haylage. Once cut it is left for a day or two, then gathered up and baled and wrapped. Silage is collected and baled and wrapped immediately (or put in a ‘clamp’ unexposed to air) and Hay is cut then left to dry out completely before baling. We found a window in the weather, and all went well. 44 bales from two fields, 40 from the same fields last year. We have two much larger fields still to do. Haylage is fed to the cattle through the winter months, they love it.
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.