This is one of the two times of year when pretty much every bit of electric fence, every bit of housing, every water and food station and therefore every animal is moved from the now a bit tired winter ground, to fresh new pasture which has been rested for a good few months.
So, following harrowing of the fresh new bits, on Saturday morning, all of the sheep were wormed and hooves trimmed as needed and then moved over to the lambing pasture, ready for the girls to hopefully lamb in the next couple of weeks. This is a mixed blessing for Rambo who can’t wait to get to new grass but is always very annoyed to find he can’t just go everywhere he likes. This is the only time of year when they are completely penned into a relatively small area, which helps us to catch and tag the lambs and check them over when they arrive.
The poultry are now all under the tree and have been split up into three areas; the geese are separated, Othello is in with the two chocolate Muscovy girls and the random collection of the two chickens, Linford, Orlando and Vita are all in together. And Mac has been moved too. And they all look pretty happy and are certainly quieter now they don’t have to defend their patches from anyone but us…
My least favourite plot job, possibly aside from dealing with strike fly, is harrowing the pastures. It’s a pain in the arse because if it’s a bit wet the John Deere gets stuck because the bit of harrowing kit makes it heavier, and also the harrower gets jammed up with old bits of thatched grass, which is the idea, but this means you have to get up and down over and over again to unclog and collect it. It needs doing though, and it does make satisfyingly straight lines on the pasture. So on Good Friday I harrowed the new lambing pasture, ready for the sheep to be moved onto it, and the area up around the tree onto which the poultry will be moved to spend the summer. The other areas will need doing over the next couple of weeks, but I’ll wait until I’m in a good patient mood before I do it…
We had the first duck egg this year right on time on the 1st March. So far, the two white girls and one of the chocolatiers are laying. One of the white girls however can fly still as when we rounded everyone up for a wing clip she escaped. So we didn’t realise she was laying until Z found 6 lovely eggs in Flo’s hutch. Luckily Flo’s not that bothered about sitting in her hutch and the weather has been ok anyway. The crow’s had cottoned on again this year though that ducks generally are a bit sporadic about where they lay, so we lost a couple of days worth as they were just on the floor. We’ve rearranged their area now though with a newly positioned next box, which seems to have gone down better. Fingers crossed the crows don’t work that out any time soon.
We separated the Orlando, the chocolatiers and the one white girl whose wings we did clip into their own area two weeks ago. Linford is in with the chickens, batman and robin and Pierre and Lucy have their own area as they were getting very shouty with everyone else now it’s breeding season. Lucy however still hasn’t bothered herself to lay any eggs…
Yesterday we had a big move around of the animals so need to keep them in this configuration for a few months to allow certain areas of the pasture to rest. The sheep have been moved off of the bottom of the main pasture onto the tree and Forest garden, and the birds have been moved to the top of the main pasture. This will allow the bottom of the main pasture to rest in time for the spring lambs. Wr have just started feeding hay.
I don’t envy many things, what with it being one of the seven deadly sins and all, but I have been known to have log pile envy from time to time. The French have very good log piles, particularly in the Alps. They have piles and piles of fire wood to see them through the winter, and our log pile always looks a bit lame in comparison. But, as previously mentioned, we’ve had some fairly hefty boughs cut off of our enormous ash tree, so now we are log rich, ho ho ho. However, all of the chunks (cut into 10 inch lengths by our friendly tree surgeons) have been residing at the base of the tree, which is not where we want them. So today I set about sorting out our log piles as they’d all got a bit overgrown with bramble and nettles. I feel like I have been back and forth with the wheel barrow a hundred times, but the pile under the tree looks virtually untouched. The issue with big log piles I now realise, is that someone needs to get them there, and that someone is us, not a log fairy. Anyway, all good for the bingo wings.
Pictures of the ash tree post surgery. We are really pleased with what the tree surgeons have done and hope this bit of work will prolong the life of the tree over all. The owls don’t seem bothered and were back within a day or two of the work being done.