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Bat box and deer

bat box

A couple of weeks ago, our friend Bernie stopped by.  Bernie likes to travel around the levels in his gypsy caravan pulled by his horse Shaman.  They camped in our orchard and at dusk we nipped over for a drink and a chat.

While we were enjoying our drinks, a small fire and a chat (and Shaman was tucking into the grass with relish), we noticed a number of bats flying around us.  All pipistrelles so far as I could tell.  Now, Mrs D had given me a bat box for my birthday.  My birthday was in May but I hadn’t put the bat box up as I couldn’t decide where to put it.  There was nowhere obvious around the house.  According to the instructions, it should be about 5m off the ground.

So, now I knew there were bats in the orchard, I chose a tree, scurried up the ladder and the bat box is now happily in place.

Then, as we headed off for a short walk around the field with the dogs, we noticed a deer in our little fledgling woodland.  The deer was in a bit of a panic as we were between it and its normal exit.  So we walked around to the other side as the deer did the same at the opposite end.  Then, in a bound, it was off to the field next to us.

I am looking forward to our trees getting a bit taller so that the deer will have a good place to hide.

I took my camera with me this morning in the hope I might catch another glimpse and maybe even get a wee photo, but it was not to be.  But we’ll keep a look out for it.

bat box

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Our first apple harvest

apple harvest

We bought our field a year or so ago.  It used to be an apple orchard and many of the apple trees have survived.  At the damper end of the field, all but 3 had perished.  We have planted our woodland at the damp end, put in a drainage ditch and started to look after the remaining apple trees.  This mainly involves a bit of pruning, removing of mistletoe and keep the sheep from eating the bark.

Today, we had our first harvest.  As already mentioned, we contracted this out.  I had a wee walk up there earlier this afternoon and found this large trailer full of our apples.  It’s great, and probably will lead to our first income from our wee farm.  No idea how much yet, no idea how many tons of apples there are either.  And there are more to come as the trees still have plenty of apples on them.  So the second harvest is planned for the end of the month.

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Tupping update


Ginger, the coloured ryeland ram we have borrowed, has been with us for three weeks now.  He was fitted with a raddle and yellow crayon so that we could see which ewes he has been with.  Once the yellow patch appeared on the back, we noted the name of the ewe and the date as this will tell us when she is likely to lamb.

changing-crayonI had read that the ewes can synchronise themselves so they come into season at roughly the same time.  Well, our ewes haven’t read that book and over the past three weeks, you couldn’t have spaced them out more unevenly.  And even now, we are not sure they have all come into season as four remain unmarked.  Mind you, yellow doesn’t stand out too well on dark brown wool.

Normally, ewes come into season every 17 days or so, so today we changed the crayon to a blue one.  Luckily, Ginger is a cool dude and likes being handled.  He’s also quite patient (unlike those born under the sign of the ram hehe). I don’t know if it was the new colour, the cooler weather or some other influence, but we got back from a dog walk to find one of the reluctant four had a lovely blue mark on her back.

ginger-and-ewesJust three to go, the three youngest as it happens.  Maybe they are a bit wary given it’s their first time.  Or maybe Ginger just doesn’t fancy the slimmer ewe.  If anything, he still seems more interested in the grannies.

The trials and tribulations of tupping.

In the meantime, we did some thinking ahead and realised we might have more ewes than space for lambing.  We were going to use the stable and have been steadily decluttering it.  But it’s not that big.  So, the tractor shed now has a nice new concrete floor.  And boy, that was hard work.  Almost as hard as shearing :).

Thanks to Westcrete for mixing and delivering two tons of concrete, then it was up to me to level it.  I have only ever laid the base for a small shed, so this was a big ask.  And it was made harder by the fact that there are walls on three sides and our well in one corner so movement was restricted. And the well is our water supply so we couldn’t exactly concrete that over, hence the little wall I built round it round it first.

And of course, there’s a deadline as concrete sets, quickly!

But I got there and we are thrilled with our new lambing space.

lambing floor

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Apple harvest begins


While the summer doesn’t appear to have been that great, it has been quite dry. Nevertheless, we seem to have a good crop of apples in the orchard.  It was a bit of a puzzle what to do with them.  It’s hard enough picking up the apples from one tree let alone over 100.  Mechanised apple pickers cost thousands of pounds.  And there’s the transportation and so on.  And we need to harvest them as the sheep will be using the field in December and that many apples would not be good for them.

Luckily, we live in the heart of cider country and so Orchard Park Farm  are taking our apples to make cider.  This is great, they are harvesting, transporting and processing the apples and paying us for them too.  All in all a great win for all of us.  We are expecting the first harvest to take place in the next day or so and then a second harvest at the end of the month.

The interesting thing is that they wait for the apples to fall naturally (it is common practise to use mechanised tree shakers round here).  Apparently, it makes for a better flavour.

We may have to buy a couple of bottles and test that theory.