Friday, 23 November 2012

The South West has been hard hit by the recent rainfall and we have not escaped.   The farm is absolutely sodden and every time we drive the quad or a tractor the ground is torn apart.  After some of the recent rainfall it seemed as though we were actually on a waterfall and in the winter paddocks which are much lower, parts look like a lake.

Mike and Nick have been gradually going round the perimeter trying to clear ditches and cut back hedges but it is like painting the Forth Bridge.  Luckily Mike had dug a new ditch which has taken a lot of the water into the stream which runs along side the lowest paddocks.   Rain from the main road and off the fields above us  runs over our land when the ground is too wet to absorb it.

Five dogs in a small space makes for a lot of cleaning up every day indoors.  Thank goodness they are outside for most of the day.  They even have the sense to go in to their kennel when the rain is really heavy and they are sure they are not missing anything that is going on.

The rain was very heavy the night before last and a gutter broke on the Buck's shelter which meant that they had flowing water running through all night.   They looked rather fed up and bedraggled next day.  Usually, however, the goats really seem to like being shut in their cosy shelters with nice dry straw and fresh hay and water every day.

  Although the alpacas have shelter they do not seem to bother to use it.   Sometimes if it is very windy and wet they will run for the hedge but mainly they just put up with it.

We have weaned quite most of this year's cria now so we have some boys to sell again.  We will run the girls on and either keep them for breeding or sell them when they are old enough to breed from.

The house is coming along quite steadily.   Upstairs has been insulated and plaster-boarded ready for plastering and decorating.   There is a bit of a problem with the stair well.  It is out of line and so the plaster board for the ceiling downstairs will not fit properly.   We are trying to get the company that installed the pre-fabricated insulation panels to come back and fix it.

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Goodbye Scaffolding

Well at last we can see the whole building without the scaffolding.  It seems much lighter inside.  I think the house is leaning a little as all the different tradesmen of the building world bring their own music with them which they play all day at enough volume so they can hear it above the noise they make when practising their skills.  It is quite bright and cheerful, as long as you don't have a hangover, and without exception all the tradesmen have been really pleasant, helpful and efficient.

I asked Nick to check the Gotland Sheep as I thought that despite being restricted to a small paddock they seemed to be really fat.   Apparently not - sheep are supposed to be much fatter than alpacas and goats and they are, in fact, not fat enough.   They have been transferred to winter paddocks with the female alpacas who have been removed from their cria for weaning.  That is the only area left with any serious grass.  We are galloping through our hay stores already and  we are feeding the lactating females to try and keep them fit. The grass looks OK but is really not very nutritious.

It was really funny to see how the alpacas reacted to the sheep.   They galloped up to them and then backed off as though they could not decide if they were predators.  The four sheep move around together in unison but I notice that they tend to be nearer to the alpacas than they were at first.

At last the original 6 hens are laying again and we are starting to get a surplus.  I can at least bank on having enough for an omelette when we want one./

We now have 25 stallholders booked in for the Christmas Market, so I am now a bit worried that there will not be enough room for my products!!!   Quite a few members of our family are travelling down from Bristol, and Salisbury respectively so that will help with the footfall and they might even find themselves co-opted as  staff.!! 

Sunday, 4 November 2012

Scullduggery Afoot

In October one of our farm signs which has been displayed on the verge along the farm frontage for years was the victim of a vehicle incident which apparently involved said vehicle scaling our bank and taking the sign and its sturdy wooden supports with it.   We were not sure when it happened or why.  Perhaps a drunk driver or someone having to take sudden avoiding action.  The impact must have been quite severe as there were deep tyre marks and the very solid bank had a big dent in it.   We also found the remains of a number plate  and part of the trim which looks as though it belongs to a 4 wheel drive vehicle.

Although puzzled we did not think much more about it until last week when I noticed that one of the small signs with our farm name on it had been knocked of its post and left face down.   This was obviously not done by a vehicle because it was well into the bank and there would not have been room for a vehicle behind it.

Starting to feel that there might be a connection when a third incident occurred.   The farm sign which matched the first one but at the other end of the farm frontage was also torn off its supports and apparently flung about 50 yards to within 6 feet of the farm gate.

We now feel that someone is actually targeting us either as some sort of twisted prank or deliberately to cause us inconvenience.   Either way it is really weird.

The house build is going well.  Not much point in taking photos at the moment as the scaffolding is still up and hiding everything.  The Scaffolder has been away on holiday but is coming tomorrow to take it down.

We are just waiting for the electrician to do his "first fix" and then the plasterboards can be finished and the project will be nearing completion, although I expect Christmas holidays will delay things somewhat.

All the animals seem to be OK.  We have moved the bucks out of the barn into a shelter next to the chicken shed and the does have gone back to their original goat house in the top paddock.   They are now shut in most of the time but we let them out when the weather looks as though it will be fine for a few hours.

Shutting them in has helped with their poorly feet and as we are now feeding them some goat course mix they are starting to look quite plump and contented.  We have decided not to breed from them this year as we have had quite a big crop of alpaca cria and we are not sure what the market will be like next year.

We are still gradually weaning the cria by taking their mums away to the winter paddocks so at least the cria stay with their friends, brothers, sisters and aunties.

The Gotland Sheep are still in the same small paddock but they are getting really fat. They are only eating grass, which is not at its best this year, so they must be what my Mum used to call "Good doers"

We have run out of available stalls for our Christmas Market on the 1st December although I expect with a bit of re-arranging we could squeeze another couple in.