More ‘traditional’ winter weather after Christmas gave a twist to the normal routine on our small farm. A week of frozen pipes meant that boiling kettles to unthaw them, and carrying buckets of water to fill a trough, became part of the routine. The cattle have been spending most of their time under cover , where they are fed hay behind a barrier twice a day; however the silage is fed on hard standing outside, so they still get a chance to be hardy Welsh Black cattle.
The sheep are getting a few nuts each morning, just so they present themselves at the gate for a good check-over.
The Black Rocks don’t seem to mind the cold in the least, and ran out with enthusiasm each morning onto their frost-hardened, white run. Snow was a different matter – they looked distinctly puzzled when one day they found that grass and potential food had disappeared under a carpet of snow. Egg production steadily increased, meeting regular orders and the needs of the house.
We spent February in Western Australia visiting our daughter and exploring the fabulous forests and coast of the south west corner of this enormous country. We left the farm in very capable hands (and paws, in the case of Non the sheepdog).
On our return in early March the pressure was on to catch up with jobs on the farm and in the garden which had been neglected. Blackcurrants and apple trees had to be pruned, gates needed painting, and in one case some serious welding. The vegetable garden needed digging over, so broad beans, potatoes and parsnips could be planted.
The fields which we plan to shut for hay have been waiting for a dose of muck from last year’s heap for some time. The fields have dried out well, and we managed to spread it all over one weekend, before the rain came.
The main excitement has been the arrival of the first lambs fathered by our new ram, Bingo. One of the two old ewes which we kept when we sold the flock (she was ‘past it’ commercially) had triplets on 20th March! However with special treatment, her own paddock and three feeds of nuts a day, she has done wonders with them, and they are bouncy bundles of fun. One of the ‘first timers’ lambed on 26th, her first lamb being white, and her second black. As there is plenty of rich grass in the lambing field, they are all doing well. They do say, at this time of year cattle and sheep only have to lick the grass to thrive!