Life on the farm: April 2017

One of the orphan lambs.

On the farm
They say that when the first lamb arrives, it’s the first day of spring. So our first day of spring was actually just over a month ago, on 4 March.

Their granddaughter #2 has 3 brown sheep (I *will* find out the breed). She’s only 13 or 14, but already she owns these sheep. Late last year, these brown sheep were taken to meet a male, and each one of them delivered this spring.

The first one, on 4 March, had a white lamb and a black lamb. Over the following week or so, the other 2 brown sheep also had lambs. In the end, between them, there were 3 black lambs and 2 white lambs, and while one of the mothers seemed to be rejecting one of the black lambs, it was just a temporary blip and he did manage to get enough nourishment from the other mothers in the meantime.

Granddaughter #1 has a horse. But on the same weekend the first lamb arrived, she bought 3 cade (“kay-dee”) or orphan lambs from a neighbouring farm. These were kept in the barn for a few weeks, but are now out in the orchard at the side of our garden.

(GD#1 removed her horse’s blanket during the week and took her for a canter around the main field (on the other side of the orchard). The blanket’s back on again now, so maybe the temperature has dropped again.)

Sheep no. 2 keeping her own lamb close.

The farmer has another, bigger flock, of around 200 sheep when they’re all present and correct.

These sheep didn’t start to have lambs until after 1 April, but the whole family have turned out and are keeping watch. Any that look like they might be having difficulty are taken into the barn and looked after. Those that manage quite well by themselves are checked over.

The sheep and lambs are all numbered (we think they may have seen this tip on the BBC’s Countryfile), then those that need to be kept close are moved to the nursery field (at the front of our house) while the others go back in the main field.

Elsewhere on the farm, the cows are still indoors, but I think they’ll be let out soon enough.

(left to right) Baldy, Pink and Aggie (Blondie’s in the background) investigating the new greenhouse

The farmer has bought some beautiful black calves, and he has some calves of his own too. However, some of the cows (about 4) have ringworm, so they’re being treated for that and kept away from the others.

In Baggins Bottom
On the home patch, the poet has been busy assembling a new greenhouse. This arrived during a storm in mid-March and he had to abandon the project for a few days until the winds died down.

Once the greenhouse was finished and stable, he then set about building some greenhouse staging out of wood. He’s not a carpenter but he does enjoy creating things, and he did exactly what I asked him to.

The new greenhouse next to the year-old shed.

The two-tier staging wraps around 2 sides of the greenhouse in an L-shape. The remaining side will be for 2 grow-bags – one for 3 tomatoes and one for 2 cucumbers.

Of course, the chickens now think that this is another place for them to shelter – they won’t think that when the hot weather arrives.

Seed-sowing started on 2 April: cauliflower, calabrese broccoli, cherry tomatoes, cordon tomatoes, cucumbers, basil, onions, Brussels sprouts and marigolds. The marigolds are companion planting for the cherry tomatoes, which will be going into tubs and baskets.

Marigold seedlings.

Yesterday, 5 of the marigolds sprouted, and today there are 5 more. The poet isn’t a gardener either (“I hate gardening”), yet he’s so proud of these tiny little things – again, it’s the creating something from nothing part.

We have 20 strawberry plants coming, 10 each of 2 varieties. Those will be going into hanging baskets when they arrive.

We have a tractor that the poet used to cut the grass with at the last house, but we don’t have that big a lawn here. The old electric mower he used to own conked out at the end of last year, and last week we had to go and buy a new lawn mower so he could give the grass its first cut.

Eggs.

The chickens are doing well. They’ve been with us for 4 months now, and we still have the half-a-dozen we started with. They’re laying 4 – 5 eggs per day between them, and we’re giving dozens away.

I was well-chuffed when we had 6 eggs one day last week, but when we had 7 … (SEVEN!) I was a tad surprised, as we still only have 6 chickens.

We’re trying to get creative with recipes that include eggs. If work settles down, I’ll have time to do some baking. I want to get some big jars so I can pickle some, and we’re each having a hard-boiled egg every weekday with our lunch, I’m having it in a salad while the poet is eating it like an apple.

With the warmer weather and the longer days, the poet hopes to do more fishing soon, starting this afternoon when he gets home from work if the weather is nice enough.

Hopefully, me and the dog will have chance to get out and about and share more news and pictures over the coming weeks. I’ll be swapping the mobile phone for my camera.

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