I am so thankful that this past week was much less eventful than the previous! However, it did start out with a bit of panic before school on Monday. I had forgotten to ring the insurance company to extend coverage for the car we were loaned from the garage, so I was unable to drive the car over the weekend and had to ring them first thing when they opened on Monday morning. I got it sorted out quickly, but I was sitting in my driveway with my foot on the accelerator when I hung up the call and ready to rocket off to school!
In terms of the sheep, we had a vet visit to check up on a couple of our younger breeding rams early on in the week. It involved bringing the sheep from the field into the handling unit and again, calling for reinforcements in the form of family members who had to stand on the busy main road and ensure their safe passage across. Bloods were taken, sent to a lab and we were delighted to get a clean bill of health for them when their test results returned.
The sheep are still all out in the field and we are predominantly using the strip grazing method to allow them to make best use of the grass available. It has been so wet all week long which means that the ground is inclined to become soft and muddy. By strip grazing, we give them a new ‘strip’ of ground every day or so which keeps them happy and stops them wasting the grass. If we give them too much grass at a time, they are inclined to walk it into the ground and it doesn’t get eaten, only rots. We use electric fencing when we are strip grazing and it is very effective at discouraging sheep who may get their own ideas about which grass they’d like to eat!
Image 1: You can see the difference in colour between the left (where the sheep are grazing) and the right (the next strip that has been set up for the sheep to graze next.
Image 2: We use battery fencers to keep the sheep obedient when we are strip grazing.
Image 3: If you look carefully, you can see a see the subtle line where the electric fence was been removed in the centre of the picture. The colour of the grass is different becuase it is longer on the right and has been trampled down a bit.
We took our rams away from the girl-sheep this weekend, so tupping 2020 is officially over. They spent a little more time together than I would have liked, but it was necessary to let them do their thing. We raddle the rams, which means that we paint their chest with colour, which gets transferred to the girl-sheep if they are bred. This gives us a really good indication of the success of the season and what we can expect in the Spring, though we will of course be scanning the expectant mums closer the time.
The sheep sheds are getting prepared for putting the sheep in and I expect that I will be housing some of the girls by the middle of this week. There is plenty to be done in the meantime though and I have power hosing to do that will have them squeaky clean in no time! When they are washed out and disinfected, I’ll give each pen a liberal sprinkling of lime and then bed them with straw. I’m also waiting for the weather and the fields to dry out so that I can collect up some of our fencers that are still out. The batteries are heavy and I don’t like having to carry them any distance longer than necessary so I’ll wait until I can get them with my truck.
And mentioning my truck, I got it back on Thursday! I missed it so much! For those who haven’t been following, it broke down last week when I was en-route to the Emergency Department with my sister-in-law. It had to get towed and it was a major upset to the day and the week. It’s all fixed now though and I am delighted to have my own wheels again.
My aforementioned sister-in-law is doing much better, though she’ll have to be well behaved until after Christmas: no lifting, bending or stretching for her will ensure a successful recovery. This is obviously going to be difficult, especially with a young kiddo, but I have been trying to drop in on her and offer support, as have the rest of the family and close friends. At least now, being post-op, she can put her energies into recovery.
In terms of the other things going on, my house looks like a tip, as I got nothing done in it this week other than keeping on top of laundry. When it’s wet and muddy out, with 4 big dogs, I feel like it is impossible to keep on top of the hoovering and cleaning of floors and with the stove lit every day, it is so dusty. I’m not getting stressed out about it though – I’ll hopefully be able to tackle it next week.
The garden was abandoned too this week because all it seemed to do was rain. I was able to pick salad leaves from my little poly tunnel a couple of times during the week for salads though, so that was awesome. The quail are doing fine, though they are not laying and I think they have probably stopped for the winter now. They stopped laying quite abruptly and I thought that maybe they would restart, but it seems like that is not the case. I love watching them so much and they really have their own personality. Maybe they will start laying again in the spring.
I’ve been keeping a close eye on the chickens too and it seems like the six point of lay birds we got at the end of the summer have started laying as I got six eggs today. I think the older birds have stopped for the shorter days. We’ll look forward to a glut of eggs in the spring! Because it has been so wet and muddy, I’ve been making sure they are dry and happy. To cheer them up, I have been treating them to some corn cobs and meal worms and heavy winds have also kept a steady supply of apples dropping off our one apple tree into their enclosure!
I’m not sure if I mentioned last week that I had started my first batch of cider vinegar: I’ve never made it before, but I made apple jelly and the waste product from it, apple pulp, is the key ingredient in the cider vinegar. It has certainly started to ferment and I have been stirring it every day as per my instructions!
I really started thinking about Christmas in earnest this week but (thankfully) I haven’t really felt it yet… usually being out and about means that we get bombarded by Christmas décor from September but I have only done grocery shopping and even those trips are fast, few and far between. I have tentatively picked up a few gifts but there are so many unknowns yet. Previous years, my mother (who lives about an hour away by car in Dublin) and my brother (who is based in Amsterdam) have joined us for the holidays, but we’re currently in lockdown and awaiting future plans. For the time being, I am preparing for their arrival and pretending that this year is the same as any other. I suppose we’ll have to wait and see.
I love to shop on-line and while my inclination is to buy from a single website that supplies everything (-you know who I’m talking about), this year I have been making a really deliberate effort to try and source gifts more locally. A little research has meant that I have made a number of purchases from Irish online vendors, which I am very proud of. These gift items will be ‘one-of-a-kind’ and will be sure to bring smiles when unwrapped, and even better, they’ll be delivered to my door!
As the end of November creeps closer, what have you been up to? Have you started on shopping for the holidays? Perhaps you’ve already finished! When do you put up decorations? I’ll be trying to share my progress here on the blog, on Twitter and on Instagram too… I’d love to hear how you are getting on and if you have any tips to make this time of year easier.