Wednesday, 25 March 2015

We are very busy at the moment!

As are most farmers and smallholders, spring is the busiest season with plenty of offspring turning up to add to the headcount.

This spring we have had 7 young goats born, mum Lucky had twins, mum Munchkin had twins and Breeze, bless her gave us triplets. In total we now have 19 goats!

Here are the triplets, just a week old and already causing mayhem!

We are not expecting any new llamas this year, but we have bought in 15 young lambs, all either orphans or unwanted triplets. Aged between a day old and 2 weeks old when they arrived they are all doing well, except for some that need a heavy dose of antibiotics to get over an ailment called "joint ill" which is something they can get shortly after birth when they do not get colostrum in time, or are born into mucky surroundings. Something that is all too common in orphan lambs and in a wet spring where the weather does not do anyone any favours.

So, a headcount, 19 llamas, 19 pygmy goats, 14 chickens, 15 lambs, 4 dogs and a cat! No wonder we're busy!

Next up, get the incubator going and let's have more chooks!

Wednesday, 11 March 2015

We have lambs!

Our first batch of tame lambs have arrived, 6 altogether and between 1 week and 3 weeks old.

Our llamas are fussy when it comes to eating grass, and there are huge areas which we have to cut, and so these lambs will be saving us some petrol and wear and tear on the ride on grass cutting machine.

For the next 4-5 weeks it will be bottle feeding though.

3 times a day!

Having had a big lunch this lot are now trying to find a cosy corner to have a lie down.

They have this shed to live in for a few weeks until they are used to us and their surroundings, they have an outside area where they can get fresh air and have a jump & play, and then they will be let loose in a small enclosure in the "lambs field" before then having the run of the whole field.

We hope to be able to get another batch in around two weeks time, and when large enough 4 or 5 of them will join the llamas to help them eat their grass.

Sunday, 8 March 2015

What a weekend of spring weather!

What a weekend of spring weather!

Well, apart from Sunday morning when it just rained.

Saturday though was great, wall to wall sunshine for most of the day, and today, Sunday the sun came out again in the afternoon, so we managed to get a lot done in the garden. We also managed to get some farm stuff done - the pygmy goat kids got to see sunshine, llama poo got picked up and mulched around the blueberry bushes, hay got shifted between barns, chickens coops got cleaned out, and a hay rack got lowered so the nanny goat didn't have to jump up to reach it - but the focus on the weekend was the vegetable plot and plants.

Great to see one of these today enjoying the warm sunshine as well.

A sure sign that spring is on its way!

The big job though was this:-

These last leeks had to make way for some new planting - the leeks would make a great addition to this evenings dinner as would these that are also starting to show, albeit just one or two.

Purple sprouting broccoli - a favourite.

After much back breaking the leek bed looked like this:-

And a row of peas sowed it looked like this:-

We also managed to pot up 80+ dahlias, sow lettuces, cucumbers, sweet corn in the propagator and sowed carrots and spring onions in a raised bed.

Time for a beer now!

Friday, 27 February 2015

New arrivals!

The vet finally turned up to vaccinate everyone, but at 2:30pm little Lucky, the pygmy goat, had her first born stuck, head was out but he had forgotten his feet, and so the vet had to push him back in and re-organise his presentation - it probably only took 2 or 4 minutes but it felt like half an hour.

This was important as he had already started to breath and he had to hold his breath for all that time, and needed some help to start breathing again.

The vet thought it appropriate to help his twin out and he was in much stronger condition and was bleating and looking for food within 20 minutes.

Orio, the first one - yes, he has a name now - had to have his first meal tubed into him as he had a swollen tongue and needed the colostrum quickly - thank goodness the vet was there as that is one procedure we are not confident about.

Mum was soon up and about licking them clean, and was given a painkiller to give her some relief from the vet's intervention.

After this we went out and vaccinated everyone, and when we came back all was good.

At around 9:30pm Vicki went out and took some milk off mum and bottle fed both the youngsters to ensure they had a good feed to see them through the night.

Obi, the second one, has learned where the milk bar is and was feeding well this morning, but Orio hadn't so he was shown where the milk bar was and was made to stay there until he had a good feed, so we know now that they know where the food is.

They'll be kept in the pen for up to a week now before they are introduced to the outside world, and we will be keeping a regular eye on them to ensure they feed.

Munchkin is up next, due Sunday, and then Breeze in around 4 weeks time.

Thursday, 26 February 2015

Vaccination day for the llamas & goats!

We vaccinate our animals twice a year, we use lambivac which is essentially a vaccination for sheep against various forms of clostridial - a nasty disease that our goats and llamas can also suffer from.

But.... the weather was against us this morning, fair chucking it down with rain it was, and whilst our goats are all tucked up in the dry, the llamas tend to live outside and get a tad wet in the rain. The vet, whilst not afraid of getting wet herself, suggested that the damp weather could cause an infection at the injection point and it would be better to complete the exercise in the dry!

At around 10:30am the rain stopped and whilst there is plenty of cloud around the sun does pop out occasionally, and the strong wind is also quite drying, so we hope that when the vet coming back around 3.00pm the animals will be dry and we will be able to have a go at completing the exercise then.

All this hanging around isn't good for the animals as they have been confined to shelters since we rounded them up this morning, I think they sense something is going on and getting quite anxious. Still, a pile of fresh hay has calmed them down!

Monday, 23 February 2015

A darn fox got some of my chickens

Yesterday was a really miserable day - weatherwise to start off with!

From around 10am the rain started, heavy rain, and it continued all day. Everywhere became sodden very quickly. The animals, even the outdoor loving llamas, were all tucked up inside shelters  and nothing wanted to come out.

It was a good day to catch up on chores indoors, and one that had been bugging me for a few months was to update our website - the home page, the about us page, llamas for sale all got updated and changed. A good day really.

At around 3:30pm it was time to go check up on the animals, the goats needed more hay and to be penned up for the evening, the chickens needed corn and eggs needed collecting, llamas hay racks needed topping up and a little bit of feed required for each of them. The boy goats in the top field also needed fresh hay and some feed.

The alarm was raised when we (that is me and two dogs) found  a chicken in the wrong place. It needed coaxing to get back to its run, and when we got there we discovered 3 dead chooks, one headless, and one had disappeared completely.

The workings of a hungry fox - a rare daytime raid - we have been lucky that it has been 2 years since our last raid - and the fox managed to climb/jump over the fence which is electrified at the top and bottom. The chooks have a very large free range enclosure with trees and hedgerows, as well as three coops to live in, and so I was lucky in that the fox only got four and the other 14 survived. As is often the case you can lose the whole lot.

For the next few days extra care will be taken to ensure that the coops are locked up at night, but there is little extra we can do throughout the day! We may well have to bring our boy llamas back down to live in the enclosures surrounding the chooks and hope that they are better at guarding than our girls.

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Our hens are starting to lay again!

We have a small flock of hens, plus an obligatory cockerel.

Actually, it's not obligatory to have a cockerel, but when you hatch your own, you are nearly always bound to have at least one. At the moment I have 17 hens and a cockerel (hatched last year, along with 4 hens - a good ratio methinks as it could have been the other way around).

The winter months have been quite scarce for eggs, we would be luck if we would get 2 a week, but with the new hens plus our oldies chipping in we are getting anywhere between 6 & 9 a day now.

We sell the surplus at the "farm gate" for just 10p an egg, or £1.20 a dozen - I know we could get more, but most of our buyers are friends and/or neighbours.

In the mornings they all come to greet me at the corner of their run to see if I am bringing any tidbits - which I never am. I feed the hens plain layers pellets that they have access to all day, and then in the afternoons they get treated to a handful of mixed corn.

My job in the morning is to give them fresh water, but I do throw out a few layers pellets for them to scratch around for. The cockerel, being a young chap is very wary of me, checking to make sure I'm not going to harm his girls.

It will soon be time to see if the cockerel has been doing his job, and to take half a dozen eggs and get them into the incubator - it will be good to get some youngsters into the flock for next winter - we might just get more than 2 a week then!