The last few months have been very full on, what with the spectacular apocalytic, pandemic that has hit the world .then a drought.. then a moorland bush fire !! sounds biblical doesn’t it .
But not a mention here of the ‘C’ word I promise .
This is my catch up blog because it seems the whole world has conspired against me and my date with a laptop once a month…
They won 3 times it seems but now I need to empty my thoughts out online sorry .
February came and went in a flash , life seems to be busier than ever, so much for moving to slow our pace of life down ! Babies are due , and the preparations are underway. First up is a scan for the sheep so that we can see if our lovely Ram Harold has done his job but also so that we can be prepared for whats to come end next month.
we loaded up and took the ewes down to our neighbour and friends at Laghead farm to gatecrash their scan (Obviously pre-arranged)
The sheep are sent through a race , past a man in a trailer with ultra sound scanning equipment and marked with a coloured spray on their backs to show if they are carrying twins , singles or are empties , its kind of expected that unmarked is a single lamb. So green was twins, nothing was singles and orange was empty. We had 10 sets of twins and 6 singles ! The only orange was on three of the last years lambs ( that were not supposed to go to the ram anyway )two did manage to get to him so we have two very young mums to watch out for at lambing time ..So otherwise great result and happy days .
Very happy with my Herdys ..
Next on the agenda was to prepare for Nora’s imminent farrowing, we could see she was highly likely pregnant but had opted not to scan her this time. We had all the signs she was carrying so we pressed ahead with getting everything , including Nora ready .
First job was to thoroughly clean the area in lambing shed we had used previously quite successfully with her, and that she was used to.
Nora is a very sociable pig and so we spent lots of time walking her , and letting her be around us when we were doing our jobs around the farm .
keeping her moving and fit has got to be good for a pregnant piggy..
oh and treating our beautiful Tamworth to her fave watermelon skin and apples , short easy walks to the river and the odd massage ensure she feels the best possible..I get how she feels , its not always a bed of roses growing a baby or 10 in your belly .
Snow is not unexpected in February here in the UK so its something we look out for and cope with quite well, 4 wheel drive vehicles and hardy animals always helps tho. Glad though that we didn’t get too much or so often this year.
I think the sheep like the extra breakfast sometimes too..
The build has been coming on at a fair old clip now, regardless of the weather , we have been building now for about 12 months and there’s different trades arriving all the time .
We had up to 5 different companies here working on the cottages , great to see..
And changes all the time which is great ..
The most spectacular was the borehole team, digging wells for water and the Geo thermals for the underfloor heating system.
I missed the 50ft geyser sorry 🙂
Inside, away from all that weather, iv’e been renovating furniture and stock piling antique finds ..
we are starting to look like a hoarders paradise !
But oh have I discovered a love of furniture and soft furnishings…
March arrives with a stash of wet wipes for all different reasons !!
Nora proved at the beginning of March, to be a mum rather than a pie eater and popped out 8 perfect piglets in the early hours one Tuesday morning (her actual due date too) ..
text book as ever, she is a great mother and farrowed effortlessly . I swear she was smiling as I put the first one to her nose ..
wet wipe need no 1
Sanitary products needed again when the sheep started on their mission to re-populate the world , hibi scrub and hot water at every turn rather than wipes mainly though , first to pop out her twins was Twink’ the two were named Jack and Jill since we found them up the hill 🙂
The twins were swiftly followed by the first Herdwicks , and within a few days we had a gang of twins and singles from our lake-land purebreds. Over the next few weeks we watched our flock grow and it seemed almost daily we added to my flock book with our new additions.
Pigs , lambs and builders everywhere until , Boris declared a lock-down ! Farming carried on as usual ( typically quite isolated so nothing new here) but our build , 1 year in and two months to go got stopped in its tracks !
We followed guidelines, and closed the build down . It was very strange having peace and quiet again around the farm , we had got very used to our building crew and the (racket)progress they made, however needs must and we are all doing our part to beat this.
The wildlife however has no idea that there are rules in place and social distancing means diddly squat to everything else here. All the extra time, opened our eyes a little more to what is going on all around us here at Grobdale, and maybe we take for granted a little too easily . The cameras have never had so much action,
Golden Plover, Curlew, Pied wagtails, sky larks, House martins and Swallows.. Along with Tawny owls, Roe deer (bucks and does) to name just a few of the sights.
Lambing continued as expected, and then before we knew it we were into April..
April brought us no showers just glorious sunshine and a bit of a drought ..
Sunshine means lots of lovely photo opportunities, and as arranged our good friend and professional photographer Gary Cook visited to capture some of the photos we needed for our website and marketing for the cottages (observing social distancing at all times )
Gary has an amazing stock of images that we have plundered for the new website but he has also taken on our project to capture bespoke photographs of the farm and the cottages once they are completed.
Can’t wait to see how real grown up photos look 🙂
As I said before farming carried on and Easter Sunday was a particularly lovely day ,as we had a few births , and even managed to watch a couple!
As lambing progressed we had a couple of discrepancies, we had scanned for twins and singles but we actually watched two sets of triplets arrive . Sadly we lost two of the second trio , but their sister thrives . The first triplet mum delivered all 3 without help and looked to be managing well however after a bit of advice and thought, we decided to take the smaller ewe lamb on (unless a mother became available ) and so we had our first pet lamb “Dilly” named by my Aunty Sylvia. The second pet lamb was a ‘social services intervention’ when Magenta one of our newer ewes decided she wasn’t really that fond of her second twin , thus “Dally” joined his half sister in the pet pen( thanks for the name Alison Veitch).
Pets three and four were found close to the end of lambing clearly abandoned by their possibly new mums ( last years lambs) and so named Harriet and Miracle.
‘Miracle’ because its a wonder she’s still with us as her mum had not even licked her clean! ..
The lambs are all growing beautifully and are an absolute joy , in this rather strange month .
April threw us a curve ball , or rather nature did with a moorland fire ! A phone call and messages came in one thursday evening warning us of a fire raging behind us at Airie hill and heading our way !!
(And this the day after Nora , busted her water trough and emptied our water supply tank ! thus the ‘drought’)
As we looked out through the farm we could see flames and smoke , rather alarming as we had friends homes , possibly neighbouring livestock and knew there would be wildlife in its path ..
Overnight we watched an eerie glow behind the farm over Ewe hill and the flames over at Airie hill creeping round and closer . the following morning three
fire crews arrived , we equipped them with our quad and Kubota to get the beaters out to the fire line and made sure there were sandwiches and tea for returning crews .
We watched two helicopters (one all the way from Inverness ) collect water from the loch’s and our river to dowse the flames as the beaters battled the fire line.
We hoped that the fire would be halted as it reached our green , grazed fields as there would be no fuel for the flames , common sense but still frightening.
There was very little sleep had by the households affected by the disaster , we were in constant touch with our friends on different sides of the hills and forest, keeping each other up to date with the fires movement’s and wind directions.
Thankfully in the early hours of Saturday morning the flames burnt themselves out in lots of the hot spots and by the time the 5 engines arrived at first light they were relieved to find that the majority of the danger was over. The day was spent feeding the crews as they ensured that every last little fire was extinguished and that there was no possibility of anything reigniting. We were very grateful to the fire service and were amazed to see appliances from Hawick , Peebles, Stranraer, Dalbeatie, Newton Stewart, Kircudbright as well as our amazing Gatehouse team. An amazing effort by everyone of them.
After all the drama of the fire we were glad to get back to farming life,
This is a drone shot ( courtesy of Gary Cook photography ) and shows some of the devastation caused by the fire , also the close proximity to our farm .. A frightening experience for all the farms and households in or close to the forests and moorland. But I am reliably informed that a large percentage of the ground nesting birds will only just be stating to nest .
A huge thank you to our Fire service teams especially Gatehouse crews who kept us all safe.
So at the end of April we had lots of lambs and piglets but were also awaiting a broody ducks clutch of eggs to possibly give us a last blast of cuteness here at Grobdale..
btw I buy very little in the way of wet wipes and those that I do are non plastic containing ones…