Saturday, 30 April 2011

The other three

Its about time you were introduced to the other three members of our family... the dogs!!! We have three very different (not only in breed, but also in personality) dogs.
This is Zac (aka Zacman) a 10 year old Scotty

Zac is Norfolk farmers dog, they were bachelors together, sometimes I think Zac wonders how he ended up living with 2 young bitches and a baby. He pretty much does as he pleases and spends his days pottering around the farm looking for food or peace and quiet!

Next we have Cabbage (don't ask about the name, Norfolk Farmer's idea), she is a three year old Wire haired Dachshund:

Cabbage, what can I say? She loves people, she wees when she gets excited, shes very protective and very, very dramatic!

Finally there is Dilly, our two year old Parson Russell Terrier

Dilly is Norfolk Farmer's 'working dog', she is devoted to him. She spends all day, everyday out at work, running over all the fields and generally causing mayhem chasing hares, bunnies and if shes really lucky her arch nemesis a Muntjac. That is until she hears Norfolk Farmers whistle and she is straight back at his side!

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

.....and back to m' moo cows!

Norfolk Farmers wife has been blogging away on the Sheep so I thought I would fill you in on how the cattle are doing. Since the bleak mid-winter of the last Red Poll blog we have converted a shed in the yard to store the young stock overwinter.  We cleared an old lean too out and the area of scrub land behind. This was an uncropped area that had been a building and then over time became a scrap heap and dumping ground for thirty odd years. I pulled several old hedgecutters, cultivators and several tonnes of old plough parts. We then cleared and levelled the soil and laid a base using 'farmers mix' (digger man said it would go like concrete, and was right!!). We added a feed barrier to the front of the shed and made a pen out back with crash barriers.

The cattle were at a low density with a deep straw bed and fed hay out of ring feeders. In general the shed did what I wanted it to, store the youngstock and hold there condition or with luck improve it. On average the cattle put on 0.5kg a day on hay and minerals, i did not use any other feed what so ever.

On the fields out in all the weather the cows and heifers got on with there job and produced some cracking calves, a few of which lined up for pics this morning. After a few years of learning how to prepare cows for calving (not to fat or thin plenty of minerals available and watch from a distance!!) I only had to assist two of the cows. One cesarean on an over condition 4 year old heifer who didn't hold her calf last year and was expected and a quick tug on a calf which mummy cow could have handled, good old Red Polls!!!

Here is an example of a heifer coming through the herd. She has been with the bull since January, I will be scanning them in May to see how many are in calf.  Next job will be moving the groups to pasture new and a bit of help to keep the flies off.

Environment enhancers...

I spotted this while checking the sheep yesterday. Norfolk Farmer put this up for the cattle, as in this particular field there is nothing for them to rub against. However the sheep seem to be enjoying it at the moment, the Wilts have started shedding (they shed their own hair so there is no need to sheer them) and appear to be loosing the majority in Norfolk Farmer's brushes.

Some of them are looking quite scruffy at the moment but they will look great when their summer coats finally emerge!

This particular sheep is not only scruffy but also filthy, they are supposed to be white but she has obviously playing the dyke with the lambs.

As the ewes are loosing their hair some of the lambs are starting to get mini horns, everyone is looking very well!

Sunday, 24 April 2011

So that was lambing...

Our first season of lambing almost come to an end and what a roller coaster it was! Between the 20 Wiltshire Horns, 10 Suffolk crosses and 2 Jacobs all lambing outside we have been kept quite busy.

Because we were learning on the job this year we tried to let nature take its course as much as possible, however that wasn't always the case! Lambing outside bought all sorts of problems, especially as they grazing over 60 acres and we have no dog and no pens!!! Norfolk farmer's favourite method was catching them in the dark, blinding them with headlights and pouncing from nowhere, although he did have several long chases in the light, who needs a dog! We had 44 safe arrivals, 5 of which are being hand reared in the garden.

These were our first pet lambs, both from triplets. We decided from the beginning to only leave ewes with twins because of them being outside, it was more difficult to keep an eye on who could cope with more than twins and impossible to adopt any off to an ewes with singles. As you can probably tell they were in the house, being the first we were not totally prepared for triplets having not scanned any of the ewes (definately a job for next year). So the first pair lived in the kitchen for a week while we waited for the arrival of out calf hutch!

There are five lambs living in there, the one you can't see is Wobbles. Wobbles is our special lamb, we think she suffered a spinal trauma  during birth and was unable to walk, we removed her from her mother as she couldn't feed. She has made a massive improvement and is slowly learning to walk again!

Lambing has really pushed our sentimental side of farming not knowing what is a hopeless case and what is worth spending (alot!!) time nursing back to health.

We have always strived to stay on the right side of sentimental and practical when it comes to the livestock side of farming as we believe this creates not only happy animals but also happy farmer and family.

Although the busy time of lambing is done we look forward to sharing more about the farm with exciting times ahead.

A new beginning

Due to an incredibly busy winter for Norfolk Farmer the blog has been some what neglected, so to go with the new calves, lambs and possible new business ventures ('wink' tell you later), Norfolk Farmer's wife is joining the blogging team!

In the four/five months since the last post and awful lot has happened at Church Farm and Norfolk Farmer has been too busy to keep you up to date so we have decided that I (the wife) can fill in when it is impossible for him to blog.