My Book is Out Today. Honest! Yay!

Pigs Poultry and Poo, which tells the story of how we started keeping all these animals, is out today.  So if you’ve bought it from Amazon then it will be winging its merry way to you.  If you haven’t yet bought it then you can always click the link on the right hand side of the page and it will take you directly through to it…

New Home for Humphrey and Hacker

As part of our general animal reduction we’ve decided to sell Sir Humphrey and Hacker.  Sir Humphrey has to go as if we keep him he will continue to cover our sows and we will continue to have litters of new piglets, and we’d like a break from that for a while.  While the reasoning makes sense we’re both going to miss him, as he’s been such a big part of our lives for the last few years.

Hacker is going too as we only wanted two pigs left – the minimum number really as they need at least one friend.  I’d always agreed we could never get rid of Gaffer, and Bernard, being mostly white, is less likely to sell.  We also put a lot of effort into saving her when she was injured early on after we bought her, so there’s an emotional attachment there too.  Whereas Hacker has never really been any problem, apart from the occasional reminder to feed her.

With them going, we only have the two alpacas for sale, and then 24 animals (3 pigs, and 21 sheep) destined to go on holiday over the next few months.  Once they’re all gone we will have less than fifty creatures on the smallholding for the first time in several years.  Hopefully that will make the winter far less work!

Bantams in trees

Since we got our new bantams, and they managed to get out of the ark, I’ve been wondering where they were sleeping.  The other evening I was late home and so was feeding everything in the dark, and I got my answer.  The bantams appear to be nesting in one of our trees:

They seemed quite happy, and let me get quite close while taking their photos.  It’s clearly where they sleep every night as there is quite a bit of poo underneath.  Now the mystery is, if they are laying eggs, where are they laying them?

Humphrey enjoys a wallow

If there’s one thing Sir Humphrey likes when the sun shines, it’s a good old fashioned wallow.  He’s managed to completely destroy one of the water drinkers, and it released quite a deluge of water until I managed to shut it off.  This was much to Humph’s delight, and as you can see, he took full advantage:

Goose poo!

The geese are free to wander all around our drive area, and along the hedge.  Occasionally when I come out of the front door they’re waiting for me, but it seems fairly rare.  However I noticed today that there is quite a lot of goose poo in the area near the front step.  They’re clearly spending a lot of time camped out waiting for us.

I wish they’d poo somewhere else though…

My Book Has Almost Been Published Today! YAY!

My book, Pigs, Poultry and Poo: An Urbanite Couple’s Journey to Country Life was supposed to be published today, but a slight delay with the printers means it will be delayed by a bit – only a few days hopefully.  I’ll blog as soon as I know!  It tells the story of how we started with the animals, and introduces some of the characters I’ve blogged about over the last year or so….

The nice Amazon people will sell it to you if you click on the link to the right.  —–>

Update – Fencing

One of the things we decided to finally do properly was get some of our weakest fencing sorted.  This meant paying someone to come in and do it professionally.  And he did a truly fabulous job.

One of the things he did differently was in using a slightly different type of mesh.  Most meshes we use have continuous horizontal strands, and then individual vertical strands (though it’s the other way round in this photo!):

What this means is that the vertical strands can be pushed about quite a bit, and it isn’t as robust as it could be.  Our new fencing man uses mesh with complete lines both vertically and horizontally to provide extra strength:

He’s done some great work.  We now have electric stand-offs on both sides, and an electric wire on the top.  This should both stop the cows form leaning against it, and the more athletic sheep from attempting to leap it!  It’s also nice and straight…

Update – Alpacas

Algy and Verdigris continue to be fairly low maintenance.  Well except for Algy and his lust for our ewes.  He’s particularly keen on the Suffolks, and they really don’t appreciate the attention.  I’ll look out and see the whole flock running, and a twenty or thirty yards is Algy running with his head down, focused on one of the Suffolk ewes.

Verdigris is either more subtle, or doesn’t fancy the sheep as I’ve never seen him do anything similar.

We had them both sheared, which is always a rather industrial process as they have to be tied down to keep them in place.  They really don’t like being man-handled!  We sold their fleece on eBay, as whole fleeces.  Unfortunately the bidding didn’t not reach the frenzy we’d anticipated, and we had underestimated the cost of postage!  This meant we actually lost money on the fleeces.  The nice lady who bought the fleece noticed and was kind enough to make a donation which at least covered the cost of postage.  We’ve never done well with selling the fleece.  I’m sure there must be a better way…

We’ve decided that the alpacas need to find a new home, as part of our animal reduction plan.  On the one hand they are relatively low maintenance, but on the other they don’t do a lot, and they do stress the sheep.  So we’re trying to sell them.  I have high hopes!

Further sheep reductions…

We continue to make progress on getting our flock down to reasonable proportions!  Today we managed to sell three more Soay ewes.

I’d put an advert in a couple of months ago when I was selling the large portion, and one of the people who answered after I’d sold all I’d planned to said that I should contact her if I ever wanted to sell any more Soays.  I was looking at the OAPs and their ewe daughters, and I thought it best to sell the daughters on, as I wasn’t planning on breeding them, and they were too pretty to take on holiday.  So I emailed the nice lady, and arranged for her to come and pick them up today.

Once again I persuaded all of the sheep into one of our fenced off areas.  Unfortunately the cows came in as well, and as we were trying to close down the area Wrath especially started running around and kicking up.  With some deft maneuvering I managed to get Wrath out of the area.  At which point Avarice decided that she really wanted to help us… so she herded the OAPs and their daughters into the area of the hurdles.  With some quick work with the hurdles the sheep were caught, and I managed to persuade Avarice out before she decided to kick up again.

A quick retagging of one of the ewes, an exchange of money and paperwork, and they were on their way, and our flock was another step smaller.  A good day’s work!

The sheep are the ones with stars next to them in this picture:

Update – Cows – and 200th Post!

This is my 200th post.  It seems only right to use it to mention the cows.

Actually there isn’t much to say.  They’ve been pretty relaxed over the last few months.  As far as I can tell they’re quite happy.  They have an odd relationship with Muga.  When they’re in the same field the three of them hang out together most of the day.  And yet when food arrives and Muga gets a bit uppity, Avarice especially backs away from him and becomes very skittish.  Hours later they’ll be placidly grazing in the same area.

I think we’ve got to a reasonable position with them where they’ll happily come to food, but not if we’re doing anything which might seem out of the ordinary, such as something which might mean catching them.  So we still don’t have a plan to TB test them.  We’ll just need to think upon it more…