I wrote recently about how I built a shelter for our sheep. I thought that at 16 square metres, this was ample space for our 16 sheep to get out of the rain or into the shade, or both.
Not a bit of it. “We need a bigger shed” they said. “But why?”, said I. “With 16 square metres, that’s a square metre each. And it’s not as though you have to live in it, it’s for emergencies, you know, heavy rain or hot days.”
But the sheep were having none of it. They not only use it for rain and shade, but for sleeping in, for generally lazing around and chewing the cud and also, sometimes, escaping from midges. And they do like to have a bit of space.
“And while you’re at it”, they added, “can we have a hay store too? We know what you humans are like, a bit of snow and sleet and moving hay can be a real pain”.
The problem was, Nicole got to hear about this so there was no escape!
And so phase 2 began. Over the weekend, I put in the support poles. Now we just need to get all the planks moved up so I can build the walls.
Of course, it has occurred to me, and the sheep, that I have just put in 13 extra extremely tempting scratch poles. Which wouldn’t be so bad, but I only had a limited supply of fast drying postcrete, the rest are using standard mix. So far, only one has been knocked out of alignment. So far…..
It has, as ever, been a busy spring. On top of moving here in March, we have expanded our animals to include pigs, more sheep and we been through lambing . And along with this, we have our day jobs plus carrying out repairs to the new house, unpacking and arranging for new bathrooms.
The sheep needed two main jobs, automated water and a shelter. While there are many streams and springs, in the dry weather they dry up so we need to have troughs of water in each of our fields. During dry spells, this has meant transporting 20l water carriers daily across to keep them replenished. Thank goodness for the quad bike. In the meantime, we have purchased a water tank, troughs and much plastic pipe. The plan is to bury the tank near the top of the hill where a natural spring emerges. All the troughs will be plumbed in and filled with natural spring water all powered by gravity. We’re just waiting on a date for the man with a digger to come and dig a big hole for it.
For the shelter, we chose a central location that can be reached from most of our fields. I ordered the bits needed to build one only to realise, when they were delivered, that it would be too small. So, another order later, I moved all the wood and corrugated iron up to where it was needed. At this point, the sheep were not impressed – they don’t like to see humans carrying things!
Next, it was time to build it. On a pleasant weekend in May, I got started. I had designed it with the support posts sunk into the ground to keep it in place in windy weather. So, time to dig a few more holes.
And two days later, it was ready. Fortunately, the weather had proved not to be midge friendly, so that helped a lot.
And the sheep were now suitably impressed. They like their shelter. The lambs especially so. You can see the finished shed in the picture at the top.
Meanwhile, the pigs have been going from strength to strength. They grow really quickly and have turned into quite large animals in a matter of weeks And this despite our scales being wrong and causing us to underfeed them for a bit. Amazingly, they have not trashed their entire pen. Perhaps it’s because they are quite large. Perhaps it’s because the Kune Kunes are more grazers than diggers. Or, perhaps, they like gardening. At one point it seemed like they had a nice area of lawn, a flower bed full of blooms and a digging area. Since the recent rain, however, the digging are has expanded. We may get next year’s potato planting area yet.
Hay cutting will be upon us shortly but the hay shed is still under construction. I need to order some smaller planks as I can’t make it as deep as I’d hoped due to the hill behind it. Seemed a shame to trim the planks to make them fit. They are now earmarked for another project (see below).
And now we have decided to change our minds and lamb next year. So a whole lambing complex with decent shed and paddock in front of the house is on the drawing board. It will be great having the shed close to the house and being able to keep an eye on the lambs through the kitchen window. All I have to do now is build it!
Just recently, I wrote about how one of our hens had turned broody. Well, yesterday, she emerged from her nest in the flower bed with 13 baby chicks. All the eggs had hatched!
They are unbelievably cute.
The mother, Mrs Mills, is a chicken that was born to one of our hens (Hattie – still going strong) 2 years ago. She was one of only two chickens, so to hatch 13 is an unbelievable achievement. That said, she has great place here and actually nested outside the chicken run in the garden.
So far, she has led them round the grass in search of titbits, worms, beetles, any small bug really. Flower petals seem also to be a sought after delicacy.
And then there are the treats left by us, well Nicole more than me – grapes, bacon rind, strawberries and of course, being in Scotland, chips.
Fortunately, the dogs are treating them with respect and of course, their presence keeps the local cats at bay. There’s always a danger from buzzards and crows, but we are doing our best to keep them safe. Including a few hastily erected fences to keep them off the drive and away from delivery vans wheels.
This takes our current tally of hens to 23, so we may have to buy another chicken house. And, of course, we’ll probably have rather a lot of eggs later in the year (assuming they’re not all boys).
In the meantime, lots of cups of tea in the garden 🙂