Summer is whizzing by! There has been plenty of activity but I get so caught up in the moment I usually forget to take photos.
Most recently we weaned the lambs. I hate to take them away from their mums. I wait for about 100 days before separating. There is much crying and weeping and baaing, both ewes and lambs. I moved the ewes on Sunday, putting them in a field recently cut and baled. They need to be on sparse ground as this helps the milk dry up. On Monday and Tuesday we had rain and fog I think it may have helped them settle a bit better, they couldn’t see or hear. By Wednesday all was reasonably quiet.
We baled two fields in mid July. Last week there was a break in the weather, and finally the two other big fields were cut, gathered and baled. 124 bales in total, a record, very good quality haylage. Thanks to our contractor, Simon Woods, who has been such a help since we bought the farm. Another local good guy.
We took some Portlands to the New Forest Show last week. Dan wasn’t available so Archie stepped in. He didn’t realise he wasn’t only transporting me and the sheep, he was going to show them! He got a third with the shearling ram and I had a good day with my son. We rarely get a whole day together, I did promise I wouldn’t talk his ear off on the journey back and forth.
I entered a Portland fleece at the show and got a first. That was a very pleasant surprise, against fifteen other fleeces, too. I shall be paying much more attention to my fleeces and will get good advice before shearing next year. As mentioned in an earlier blog, Portland fleeces are loved by hand spinners.
Today was a very special day for Frazzle the Bull. Little did he know that before the day ended he would be surrounded by six beauties - four cows and two heifers. But first we needed to move the group of twenty one from Swallow Coombe, a field at end of the farm, back to the holding area and separate into two groups, of ten and eleven. Some heifers are still too young to be with the bull. Calves need to stay with mums, two mums have ended their breeding life so won’t be put with Frazzle. All very confusing.
We walked them all across two fields and into the holding area and ran them down the race. Plenty of shouting as Archie and Richard called out their numbers and I opened the appropriate gate, either keeping them in the pen or letting into the opposite field. I had my chart with all the cattle names and numbers but was terrified I would screw up. Plenty of shouting (and swearing) for sure!
We walked the four cows, with their calves, and two heifers back to Swallow Coombe. They cooperated beautifully, following me in the Polaris ranger with Archie and Richard following behind. Now it was Frazzle’s turn, who suddenly seemed very aware of the situation...he was in Holes Ground, just opposite across the bridleway. I called him, gates opened and he ran right across. Gates slammed just in time to stop a couple of steers from following him in all the excitement. It was lovely to watch him, sniffing the air, standing proud, as the girls came over to investigate. Once they realise who he is they mostly walked away!
The only job left was collecting the other group of eleven, who sauntered down the bridleway and moved into their new field. A very good day.
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.