Work/Life Balance

I am extremely happy crofter tonight. The schools have closed today and I’m as happy as all the teachers and pupils who have the next 6 weeks off. Why? Well, I never have to work a Monday ever again!

I have been juggling croft work, Air An Lot, media work and football along with a full time job for quite a while now, so a couple of months ago I asked to reduce my hours. As of now, I am on 3.5 days a week; every Monday and every 2nd Friday off.

I think this will benefit all parties; I will have more time to get my Air An Lot plans up and running, along with plenty other things, while my work will get a happier, more motivated employee.

There is loads going on behind the scenes, which I’ll be able to share in a week or two; mainly getting ready for the 300 chickens which are due to come in a month!

Turkeys arrive

I acquired a couple of turkeys yesterday, another addition to my collection at Air An Lot. That’s sheep, chickens, ducks, pigs, turkeys, dog, cat and gerbil!

I’ve been thinking of getting turkeys for a while and these were offered to me, so I took them!

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Mother and daughter, 2 & 1 year of age. Anyone got a spare male??

Piglets arrive

I haven’t had piglets on my own croft since 2011. The last ones we had were on my neighbour’s croft and they went to slaughter in late 2012. I usually get weaners every second year, so it was about time I got some more.

I had booked 4 off my usual supplier at the beginning of the year, but he had some difficulties and I had to find some others. Fortunately I managed to find some piglets in Ness! I went down to collect them this week, a litter of 5.

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Piglets being piglets means they tend to escape. It didn’t take too long catching them, and I had taken down one of Bud’s crates to transport them back to the van.

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That’s them in the container now. They arrived on Wednesday evening but, unfortunately, one of the piglets hadn’t been well and died. The other 4 are in great condition and enjoying life in their new home. They haven’t escaped. Yet……

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Surprise Ducklings

A couple of weeks ago, I had to let my ducks out of their run, as the stagnant water was becoming a hazard for them. I have to build them a run around the stream on the croft at some point. Trying to clean out the wee pond they had just wasn’t feasible. Anyway, I let them out and off they went, enjoying life. There are 2 black ones and they disappeared very soon after getting out. I would see one most evenings, but not the other. I feared the worst until she appeared last Sunday with 9 ducklings!!

I was in the kitchen and heard all this commotion outside. Bud ran to the back door too, barking, so I guessed something weird was going on. I ran outside and saw a flash of yellow to my left; ducklings!

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Unfortunately I was not the only one attracted by the noise. As I came out, a crow swooped down and flew off with a duckling, which was still wriggling in it’s mouth. I ran after it for a while, but it landed about 1/4 mile away. I had to make a split second decision, so I sacrificed that duckling (which would have been severely injured, probably dead, by the time I got there) to make sure that no predators got the other 8.

They are so fast along the ground so it took me a wee while to get them all collected but they’re now safely in a run in the barn.

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One smaller duckling died during the week, but the other 7 are doing really well.

The other black duck is still out and reappearing periodically. I am convinced that she’s sitting on a nest too, so don’t be surprised if more appear!

Injured Ram

My one remaining intact ram has a broken shoulder!

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I had the vet over for the vasectomy for the other ram, so I asked him to have a look at this one, as he had a limp and I couldn’t figure out what was causing it.

He started at his hoof and worked his way up the joints until he figured his shoulder was broken! I felt it myself and could feel it click when pressure was applied. He’s been like this for a couple of months but will hopefully be ok for autumn. It’s his front right that is affected, meaning he should still be ok to serve ewes. If a ram injured his rear leg, he’s not much use, but front in manageable (rear takes the weight when he mounts a ewe). We’ll keep an eye on him and the vet will check him in a couple of months.

Vasectomy (for the ram!)

I now have a ‘teaser’ ram. One of my friends told me about his a few years ago, but I didn’t pay much attention to teasers, until I saw the affect it had on my neighbour’s lambing last year; numerous sheep lambing each day, while I was having a max of 2/3.

Anyway, the process is quite simple. A ram is given a vasectomy and this does strange things to the sheep! The teaser is put in with the ewes 10 days before the ‘intact’ rams. This brings the ewes into season and also synchronises their systems, meaning your lambing period is much tighter. This year I was up at 5am 39 times in 42 days. I was exhausted. Hopefully next year won’t be anywhere near 42 days!

The process with the ram was quite simple.

1. Choose a ram

I have this ram lamb from last year. Wasn’t sure what to do with him, as he is related to too many of my sheep, so this was an easy decision.

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2. Get the vet out

I made the appointment when Bud was over for his own ‘sensitive’ operation. The vet wanted it booked as soon as possible, to avoid fly strike. Suits me, so we got it done the following week.

I had to sit an hold the ram, while the vet did his thing. The animal is given a sedative, the area is given a local anaesthetic and then cleaned.

The job takes around an hour and I’ve been told it’s similar to the process on humans. Tubes from the testes are snipped and a length removed, to ensure it doesn’t grow back and repair itself.

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Quick and painless for the animal. It will actually mean he will have a nice long life here now, given that I won’t have to move him on. Fingers crossed this all works now!

Catch up

I’ve had an insanely busy fortnight, and another busy 10 days before me. I haven’t made the time I would have liked to update the blog (this happens every summer) but I’m going to catch up today, as there have been quite a few interesting things happening!