Just a note to record that our rams seem to be a bit more mature than we thought they would be at 7 months. Ram number 2 (the one we weren’t going to keep) seems to be dominating and very interested in the girls. We have seen him tupping, or at least attempting to tup, two of them. There is a bit of argybargy going on with the other ram, headbutting, kicking and snorting etc, but nothing too serious at the moment. We’ll keep an eye on it. It’s not ideal but such is life. They’ve got plenty of room, they don’t have to stand next to each other…
Monthly Archives: November 2011
We’ve got a bit of a creeping buttercup issue on the plot which has gradually got worse over the year. It’s not poisonous to anything we keep, and geese apparently love it (although I’m yet to see them displaying signs of loving it), but it reduces the quality of the grazing pasture. Generally, creeping buttercup does better than grass if the soil is acidic. Having done some research on it, it seems that our land is a prime candidate for this, as it is quite heavy soil and is next to a river. So, to reddress the balance and give the grass a chance to beat the buttercup, we ordered some powdered garden lime.
We ordered 100kg to start with, to see how far this would go, and yesterday we started the application by topping and harrowing the area from the gate accross the top of the plot, all around the area under the tree and over to the veg beds. I did all this with the JD while Z followed be round with my Dads seed spreader, which all seemed to work fine. The amount we bought just about covered that area. We have no idea whether we’ve applied enough in the right places or not but hope it will help. We’ll just have to see. We’ll need to buy a considerable amount more (probably double at least) to do the bottom paddock area before Christmas. We just need some rainfall now to help the powder settle into the soil.
This morning we went on to the plot to find a pile of feathers near the river. After doing a head count it became clear that three of our young Muscovy girls were missing. Everything else was untouched and no sign of the electric fence being breached. Just as we were standing scratching our heads a neighbough called over the gate. One of our girls was sitting in the river near the ford about 2 mins down river from the plot. We hurried down with a cage and picked her up. Sadly she had a fox injury, so we decided to cull her straight away. There have been no sign on the other two. We are assuming that as the girls are a bit older than we normally keep them, they have been testing there wings and flown over the electric fence in the night, which explains why none of the heavier boys have gone, they are more flightless than the lighter nimble girls.
It is sad, but as these were growing meat stock we are not as upset as we would have been if we had lost any breeders. It’s a lessoned learnt, clip wings at 10 weeks or risk this type escape and capture.
Today I have made sloe gin. 450g of Sloes. 225g of caster sugar and 1litre of Gin. Gin is one of my favourite alchols, so I am hopeful for this little experiment. For anyone who wants to try it, just shove all these ingredient in a glass jar or bottle, shake occassionally and leave for 2 months. I am going to taste after 1 month to see if I can use it for Christmas presents.
The Soays have been in the forest garden area now for about a month and they seem to be loving it down there. Lots of trees and peace and quiet. They are helping us get on top of that area by hard grazing it and fertilising it at the same time. In mid Oct we need to catch them up to worm them and check their hooves. After the disaster of last time we decided to change tactics. We have built a small catch pen inside a very large catch pen. We feed them every day in the large catch pen which means that we can get them in that area with no problems, the area is about 10meters by about 15 metres. It is then much easier to get them into the smaller catch pen, still a bit of rounding up, but no dangerous jumping and panicking. Oct was the first time we tried this technique, and I was much more pleased with the results. We caught them all, and wormed them all with minimal fuss. Tip for any would be Soay shepard, buy yourself lots (10 at least) of hurdles, this will save you heart ache.
Anyway this has made us change our mind again about our wolly little friends. We are keeping them! This winter we will be slaughtering the ewe that bred Rambo (to stop interbreeding) and the spare ram lamb. We may also cull the maddest of the ewes to try and calm the others down. This will leave us with 3 ewes and a lamb. We may then look to increase next spring.
My mum and I have been learning to spin over the last six months. We are both doing pretty well. I am also learning to knit. My mum has the edge when it comes to knitting on account of her 50 years experience. The pictures below show an Oreo coat I have spun and knitted out of Soay wool. The other picture is my Mum in the jumper she spun and knitted, the White wool is from a fleece she found on the side of the road, and the light brown wool is from Auntie Sandra’s sheep.