Sunday 27 November 2011

In a spin.

No doubt about this being a tasty bit of grass!
On tuesday, I attended a Defra-funded 'Camelids and TB bio-security' workshop, with three speakers, who specialise in different aspects of the subject - it's vital to take note of the available knowledge and advice on a subject such as this, in order to minimise the risks to ones herd. It took place at a farm just past 'the middle of no-where', almost at 'the back of beyond'.
With the increasing herd comes the increasing poo hoovering, and that means the original manure heap fills quite quickly, so I built another today, located at the top of the veg patch so that it's easier for emptying the hoover. Talking of the 'poover', I know there are many people who are interested in how I'm getting on with it (no, really!), and it certainly has its quirks, can sometimes be cantankerous, and I'm sure deserves a blog dedicated to it one rainy weekend when there's nothing else to write about - "like now", I hear you say. I'll spare you that for now.

Mrs. Smallholder has been working on her web-site with her designer, and is spinning like mad to meet the demand for her products - more news on that soon.

Sunday 20 November 2011

Slap and tickle!

There I was, poovering away in the warm sun, in a tee shirt, when a Red Admiral fluttered around and settled on my head- I wondered if Wimbledon had begun, but then, hang  on, IT'S NOVEMBER!
Minnie in the crush, after her pedicure.

Minnies mite-affected legs have been getting some Udder Salve 'slapped' on this week - while she is concentrating on her feed bucket in the morning, I have crept around with a handful of goo and rubbed it up her legs.
"I'm next!" - "no, it's my turn!"

Her toe-nails needed trimming and she's never enjoyed having her legs touched, so today we made a crush out of hurdles, gave her some Hazel leaves and Alfalfa for distraction, and I clipped them on the ground - it worked a treat.
Moira - enjoying her new-found treat.

Moira has always been timid and never eaten from the hand, but yesterday, I wanted to give Minnie extra feed in the afternoon as she is nursing and pregnant, so I took just two buckets of feed, which Minnie guarded well, and I distracted the others with carrot strips, and Moira joined in, and I repeated the exercise today.
Camelot - learning a new taste.
And the tickle? - for lunch we had 'Tickler' cheese - sorry to disapppoint!

Sunday 13 November 2011

Fibre studio opens.

Bubbly flowed, scones were scoffed, and sandwiches were swallowed, as we held an open afternoon

to mark the completion of our Studio & Workshop. On wednesday the vinyl floor was laid, and late on thursday afternoon the mains electric was connected - we had started imagining a candle-lit opening if there had been any major power interruption to delay the connection, but there was no hiccup.
Mrs. Smallholder, two of her sisters (Hilda the Chief knitter, and Gaye) and our daughter (Kerry) worked tirelessly to make all of the sandwiches, scones and other nibbles, serving drinks and selling products, and demonstrating spinning and weaving, while I was in charge of livestock...
We were supported by good friends from the village, and the alpaca world, with some travelling from as far away as Ilfracombe in North Devon and Salisbury in Wiltshire, which was greatly appreciated.

My one reservation about events like this, is not being able to spend proper time in conversation with people without having to break off to welcome new arrivals or wish farewell to departees, and worrying that someone has decided to leave after hanging around too long for a chat. The weather was warm and sunny after heavy showers, so although the ground was soggy, it was a perfect day for November, and the numbers of feet didn't destroy the garden or paddock. I've not posted any photographs with people here, as they filled the room, and it's just the backs of heads, so you'll have to trust me - or maybe some will crop up on other blogs in due course.

I had lured the herd onto the lawn for un-grazed grass and the Eucalyptus tree to browse over, so that they were close for visitors to view - I picked some Hazel stems and wedged them in the hurdles, as they love the leaves, and soon the leaves will have turned and fallen in any case.

Today, as I had noticed Minnies rear legs showing signs of rawness due to mite itching, I gave a topical treatment of Eprinex in pig-oil courtesy of a plant sprayer. I then spread two barrow-loads of sand and small rubble in the paddock to firm-up the deteriorating gateways.
So it's great to finish six months of building, and start a new phase of fibre processing, product development and craft training, and hopefully we'll make progress on pasture and livestock development.