Land improvement

At the beginning of the month, I blogged about croft improvements and a CCAGS application for drainage. That was approved 10 days ago, so just need to get the man with the digger out to do the work now.

In addition to this, I had a visit from a friend who works for the Scottish Agricultural College, looking at what can be done to improve the quality of land on the croft. We walked the length of the croft, noting what can be done to increase and improve the land.

There is a lot of work to be done, considering there has not been much work done on the croft in the 15 years before I got it in 2005, and only grazing since then.

We discussed reseeding/improvements and looks like I’ll go ahead and progress improving 2 fields next year. This should involve spreading sand, harrowing and some grass seed. All very exciting.

p.s. Sally wasn’t keen on being photographed for the blog!

Piggies no more (thankfully)

I have introduced the pigs before and there are several posts about them throughout the blog but today,the Kune-Kunes finally went to slaughter. They were nice, lively pigs but an absolute nightmare as well, as they kept getting out of their pen!

They were booked in to the slaughterhouse and I took them over this morning. They jumped straight into the trailer after I threw some pig rolls in, blissfully unaware of what was before them.

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Over to Stornoway they went, never to be seen again. There was a queue at the abattoir this morning, 6 trailers of cattle and sheep – 5 of them from Ness!

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They’ll be back in a week or so, ready for the freezer. The Gloucester Old Spots are still here, but they’ll be booked in for slaughter in a month or so.

Who let the rams out?

So today was the day the rams have been waiting for. I posted last week about how some of the prep work was done for getting the sheep ready for the ram so that meant all I did today was apply some oil based mix to the rams and then let them loose.

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The ‘paint’ is applied to the ram’s breastplate and leaves a mark on the rear of the sheep once he’s done his business. I use cooking oil, added to a red powder for the paint. Some people use a raddle, which is a harness which applies paint to the sheep, but this,works fine for me – and I’ll be keeping an eye on them. If some of the sheep are serviced early on, it’s a good indicator that the ram and sheep have nothing wrong with them. The sheep will all be receptive at some point ov the next 3 weeks, but they’ll all be with a ram for 6 weeks, to be safe.

This was me applying paint to the Big Fellow.

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I’ll hopefully get some ‘action’ shots in the next few days and an update on the number of sheep that have been serviced so far! Lambs should start appearing round 24th March.

Any questions?

Getting ready for the ram

This time of year is like Christmas to the rams. They’ve been waiting 12 long months for their chance to perform – and it’s almost here! I’m away filming in Inverness for 4 weekends in a row just now, so it means that any work on the sheep has to be done midweek. Easy enough in the summer, but it’s getting dark so quickly, it’s a struggle to get anything done after work. The plan was to separate the flock into smaller groups, put them into separate fields, ready for the rams to be added next week.

I went in the croft to gather them around 5.30.

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I went out to get my dad and things started to mist up.

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We got all 60+ sheep into a pen quite quickly, and set about separating them.

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I made a couple of runs with the trailer up to a field further up in the village and things got very dark very quickly!

The sheep are in 4 smaller flocks now. Nearly 30 to the Big Fellow (Cheviot), 20ish to the new Suffolk, around 12 to another Cheviot and 5 Blackface gimmers to a Blackface ram.

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It was so dark when we finished but it’s all done now, ready for the rams to be released next Tuesday!

Eye update

Two weeks ago saw one of my worst days as a crofter. It took a few days to get over things and I have been keeping as close an eye as possible on the surviving sheep since the day I found her totally blind. She’s been behind my parent’s house since then and it looks as if she has regained her sight and is back to full health – what a relief. I tried to catch her briefly tonight but wasn’t easy so I left her. I’m confident though that she has regained her sight – possibly in both eyes – and will go to the ram next week. The infection has cleared up from all the other sheep too. Still left wondering what if about the other one though…..

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