Thursday, 29 January 2015

Oh dear, a lot of poorly dogs!

We have four dogs, Cookie our 14 year old Samoyed.
Pepper our 9 year old springer X.
Gizmo our 2 and a half year old springer.
And last but not least Lladdie our 2 and half year old collie!

This winter they are all poorly one way or another, we have Cookie who is on regular medication for getting old, arthritis is her main ailment but she is also suffering with incontinence and appears to have a bladder infection.

Pepper has just had a major bout of food poisoning, and had to spend a night in hospital being rehydrated, he is also a grumpy dog and has a bad back which no one can really do anything about. We think the painkillers he was on contributed to his food poisoning issue, giving ulcer-like symptoms.

Gizmo is a clumsy dog and is forever twisting or hurting a foot, it always seems to be healed the next day, but the day after he is limping again - just one of those things.

Lladdie, he is a fussy eater, and on occasions will eat something that doesn't agree with him. This morning he was a sick and his breakfast didn't stay down, too much llama poo for starters I think! He's bright enough in himself and tonight he'll be ravenous and carry on as if nothing had happened.!

The vet fees do mount up on occasion :-(

Sunday, 25 January 2015

Another poorly dog!

This is Pepper - a poorly springer X jack russell!

On Friday evening he decided to eat something in the fields that he really shouldn't have and on Saturday morning he was so poorly that a visit to the vets was called for.

Exactly what was wrong with him was unknown, he had been sick and was pooping blood, he was dehydrated and needed fluid except he couldn't keep anything down, so he was admitted to hospital - luckily our vet is also a veterinary hospital - and he was put on a drip to get his fluid levels up, had blood tests to ensure he hadn't eaten anything poisonous and to ensure his vital organs were all working, which they were, given antibiotics as his white blood cell count was high.

Today, Sunday, he is back home feeling very sorry for himself, taking his medicine as he should and on a diet of bland food (boiled chicken and rice).

An expensive weekend!


Friday, 23 January 2015

Brrr, a cold start to the day here in North Devon!

The morning animal rounds always seem to be that little bit harder when the weather is really cold.

The animals are all extra hungry - grass not available for grub, plus they use extra energy to keep themselves warm - so it's extra rations.

They are thirsty as well, as all of the water buckets are frozen over, the ice needs breaking and they need topping up as well. Luckily for me, it wasn't that cold as the water butts were not frozen, so I was able to top up water without having to carry buckets from the house to the fields - now that's a job that really does take some time!

Thankfully, I didn't have to that today!

Sun is now warming up nicely!

Thursday, 22 January 2015

Today we have a poorly dog!

This is Lladdie, our border collie.

Last night he ate something that really didn't agree with him.

He didn't wine or grumble, but he made a mess in his crate. This morning hew greeted me but looked very sheepish, as if to say sorry. He must have been standing for hours as it was only his feet that were dirty.

Poor thing is absolutely exhausted today.

He has been fed a very bland mix of boiled chicken and rice and tonight he'll get the same.

Hopefully a good nights sleep and back to normal tomorrow.

Monday, 19 January 2015

Time to start planting the seeds!

I know it is a bit early, but here in North Devon we have a milder weather than most, so I thought I would start the 2015 growing season by sowing a few seeds.

Tomatoes are a good one, last year I was harvesting tomatoes quite a few weeks before my neighbours and local friends, and so I hope to be doing so again this year.

I sowed the whole packet of Ailsa Craig, 20 seeds in all, and because of the early start I hope that I will get at least 6 plants although knowing my luck they will all take.

I also had a packet of "All Year Round" Cauliflower and sprinkled half of the packet in another seed tray and hope to get a few early cauli's as well.

Are you sowing your seeds yet?

Friday, 16 January 2015

The downside of a biomass boiler!

Actually there are two points to be made here.

Last year we had one of these installed:-

It's great, very efficient, despite having to manually load the pellets into the top. However, that is not really a downside as it is no worse than having to haul logs in to light the wood burner.

However, today we had a pallet load of 10Kg bags of wood pellets delivered, normally the driver drops the pallet on to our driveway and at my leisure I store them away to be brought into the house when we need them.

Today however, the driver couldn't use the tail lift to get them off the lorry, so today we manhandled all 96 bags of pellets off the side of the lorry and stored them away. Not really what I had planned but I guess it will save me a job over the weekend.

Yes, that is one downside, having to man handle the pellets off the pallet and stack them away.

The other downside is purely a green consideration - I now have 96 plastic bags to dispose of!

Thursday, 15 January 2015

Wet dogs!

No sooner do they dry out when they get wet again!

I guess the only way to keep the dogs dry is to not let them out, but trust me, working dogs like to be out whatever the weather, and do not seem to even notice whether it is hot, cold, wet, dry, windy or still.

With so much lying water on the ground, often in areas that are muddy the dogs are permanently dirty & wet.

I guess the only time they dry out is in the evening when they get to lie in front of the woodburner!

The only dog that doesn't enjoy this is Lladdie the border collie, he prefers to go to sleep in his bed and ignores the comfort of our living room!

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

No snow here today!

There is no snow here today, plenty on the high ground on the moors apparently (Exmoor & Dartmoor) but none here.

Today is actually a nice day, some blue clouds, some wind, no sign of showers, but it is blooming cold out there.

Vicki & I are both suffering with colds, and have no intention of doing anything outside other than the bare basics, so a day in the office beckons.

Snow can be quite a tough time for us, less so for the animals, as they congregate in their shelters or stay in the indoor pens, but ensuring that they all have fresh hay to eat and fresh water to drink can be extra difficult to get done. We have been lucky this last year or so (better be careful what I wish for) with just wet & windy weather to cope with, no frosts to talk of either.

The frosts are the worst as we then have to carry water from the house to the animals as all the drinking water butts become frozen as well.

Roll on spring is all I can say!

Sunday, 11 January 2015

The pigs are almost done!

After a 10 year break we thought we'd have another go at keeping pigs!

We have had them for around six months now and they are ready to head off to the  slaughterhouse & they have their appointment tomorrow - Monday - so today they have had a very large breakfast, as they will be getting no tea tonight! This will make them amenable to being loaded in the trailer tomorrow!

During their 6 months with us they have turned over 2 paddocks from being just grass to being just a muddy mess as you can see in the picture!

I think I may of underestimated the amount of work to put the paddocks back to rights, but he ho!

They have been hard work and it may well be another 10 years before we give it another go!

Saturday, 10 January 2015

Building a pond - day 1.

Today after the 4th attempt the delivery company finally turned up with my pond liner (and free underlay) so it was time to start work.

The pond is going to be just beyond the path (going left to right in the middle) and in front of the fruit cage. The pond is going to be about 5 metres by 2 metres and at its deepest it will be about half a metre deep. It is going to replace two thin raised beds which have not been very productive recently and the wooden sides are starting to rot in any event.

I have just started to remove the rotted wood and lifting the slabs used as a walkway between the two beds in the above picture, but it gives a good idea as to length and width of the new pond.

The slabs have been moved to create a walkway between the pond and the fruit cage - we have quite a few raspberry canes in there - the drop in height from the path to the slabs is about half a metre and this will give us the depth. I have to build up a bank with the soil dug out of the middle to create the edges of the pond. The wood in the foreground is my level and I have just about got the bank done along that level and about 2 metres down the long side.

Back breaking work but I'm looking forward to having the thing finished in 2-3 weeks.

Friday, 9 January 2015

A white fluffy dog and mud and poo!

Our old dog, Cookie, is a white Samoyed, seen here licking her lips!

She's a bit old now and her regular trip to the groomers have been halted as she cannot stand for the required length of time to be blow dried and clipped, so today she is looking a bit moth eaten as we have had a go ourselves.

The groomers used to clip her belly, as she gets such thick fur it never dried out, if left unclipped it not only gets wet it gets dirty too. She does like to walk amid, and sample the various animal poo piles that are around and she does get rather smellie.

So last night, at various intervals so she didn't get worn out, we trimmed her bum area, her belly area and her legs that were all getting a bit mucky with the wet weather and gave her a good brushing. She'll get a days rest and we'll finish her off over the weekend, she already looks a lot happier for our efforts. It was two handed job as she wriggled a lot!

Still, it'll be easier next time as long as we keep on top of it!

Thursday, 8 January 2015

Occasionally I get a day off!

This week we had a visit from a nephew who lives in the USA. He brought along his fiance to meet family, especially those who will not be able to make the wedding.

My mum fits into that category, so I had a day off to take the pair of them down into deepest Cornwall to visit "Grandma".

When I say I had a day off, I still had to get up early and do my animal rounds, but by 10am we were off and arrived at the pub for lunch dead on 12pm - we went the scenic route and they enjoyed the views of Devon and Cornwall along the Atlantic Highway - better known as the A39.

After a very enjoyable lunch Grandma took us - not me really, but I tagged along for the ride - to see St Michaels Mount:-

As you can see it was a glorious day, with the sun shining, but a chilly breeze kept Grandma in the car - my nephew & fiance enjoyed it though!

After that visit we went back to Grandma's house for a cup of tea before heading back home - a less scenic time as it got dark well before we got home.

Beef stew and dumplings awaited us when we got home - a real treat for our guests - and me!

Monday, 5 January 2015

Water, water, everywhere!

None of our fields have running water, so we have to collect water in each field, otherwise we would be forever carrying water.

We have large tanks that are attached to one of the shelters as in the picture above, and although in winter the regularly overflow, in summer months they can get quite low.

Sunday, 4 January 2015

Sunday is our busiest day!

Monday to Friday is office work days - days where I work for someone else to earn money to pay the mortgage.

The weekends are where we work on the farm.

During the winter months when daylight hours are few and far between, and more often than not it is when it is daylight it's raining, we need to cram in as much farm work as we can.

This weekend was no exception - Saturday, it rained all day - and Sunday was dry, so a major task, one that has to happen every 6-8 weeks or so is the major mucking out of the goats. We deep bed them which means that each week, we clean what we see and top up with fresh straw, but every 6-8 weeks we clean right to the bottom and muck everything out - pressure wash, spray with Jeyes Fluid (a disinfectant) and give them a deep bed of fresh straw.

The goats loved it - their play toys were put outside and they got to play outside while it was dry!

In the meantime we worked hard - filled up a compost bin with the bedding, a good 100 yards away - and then had to put away 30 bales of hay that were delivered in the middle of mucking out.

Still, all done now, and a well earned beer tonight is slowly being supped!

Saturday, 3 January 2015

What a grey day!

A grey day here in North Devon!

We have a very good guard llama and you can see him here guarding the llamas huddled in their shelter getting out of the wet & windy weather!

Llamas can cope with most types of weather that occurs but they really do not like heavy rain, especially when the wind is blowing as it is today!

Friday, 2 January 2015

Well, a normal day today!

Grandkids and house guests have left after nearly two weeks!

We have a had visitors come and visitors go , next week we have a few more.

In the mean time we have a normal day!

What is a normal day here at Ashwood Llamas, well for me it starts with spending an hour outside with our four dogs, waking up the rest of the animals, giving them their morning feed and checking that everyone is OK. I know this has to be done while guests were here, but grandkids helping isn't that helpful and I enjoy the solitude in the mornings, whatever the weather!

After that the dogs get fed, I get breakfast and then we have a day in the office where I try and earn a living! In amongst that their is the usual pottering and doing the odd maintenance job outside - today a goat playhouse roof needs repairing - or off to collect hay, or some such!

This time of year daylight hours are still not many and so each day becomes very busy.

This evening, it is Friday after all, a few early beers, dinner and bed early as I still have some sleep to catch up with!

I am also looking forward to the weekend, two days of working outside with the animals, and boy do we have a lot to do.

This blog writing is now going to be one of my daily chores and we will see how long that lasts.

If you haven't been by already, then can I wish you all a happy New Year.

Thursday, 1 January 2015

First day of the new year, first visit to the pub!

The pub puts on a fantastic New Years Day brunch - a full English breakfast - a good way to bring in the new year and catch up with folk you haven't seen for a few hours!

Afterwards, we might even have a quick pint - none of this detoxing for January for me - after all, in a few days time it'll be my birthday!

May I wish everyone a happy new year and let's hope it brings peace, happiness and prosperity to us all!