It has been almost three years since my last post and rather a lot has happened. Things all went a little crazy when we took over a vegetarian café in Carmarthen in November 2014, then had another baby in July 2015 and Dusk had a litter of puppies in December 2015 (of which we kept Monty, who is in the photos). After that we embarked on converting our old barn into a self contained granny annex (where my 92 year old gran will move into in June). So it has been go go go as always!
We have continued breeding Oxford Sandy & Black Pigs and have now had over 100 born here at Penybanc. We had a little foray into sheep for one year, but we realised that sheep might be the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back, so even though we did love the sheep and learnt a lot, we had to sell them on.
Spring has rolled around again and everything is blooming, we are busily getting seeds sown and bracing ourselves for all the mowing that is about to kick-off. We had so much going on for the last three years that the veg growing suffered a little, so after being almost completely self-sufficient for veg, we took a little step backwards, but we are hopefully back on track now.
If you read this, please do leave a post so that I know it is worth while. I will try and do more regular posts from now on.
We were in Country Smallholding Magazine! Not sure about being “townies” but it is a blushingly complimentary article otherwise. Here is a link to a PDF copy of the article: countrysmallholding
We have just acquired a lovely beef steer to join our tiny little herd, taking our head of cattle count up to three! Although we also realised today that, realistically, we will have to sell our beautiful pedigree Jersey calf at some point. Ideally we would find some lovely smallholders who would like to have a very tame and friendly house-cow…. Here is a photo moments after the two youngsters met for the first time:
Our lovely sow, Barbara, had another litter of piglets a few weeks ago. She did fabulously as usual and produced 12 very beautiful piglets. Unfortunately, after that it went downhill as, each time we checked on her, there seemed to be another piglet squashed. This is her fourth litter and she has never squashed them before so we couldn’t work out why this was happening. Then Babs went off her food and we had confirmation something was up. From the symptoms it seemed like it could be Metritis (an infection of the uterus, possibly because some placenta had not come out with the afterbirth). We called the vet out (in the pouring rain and the dark of course) and he took her temperature, which was very high. He gave her shots of oxytocin, antibiotics and pain killers (I think). Then, all we could do was wait – the vet said our chances were better because we hadn’t delayed in calling him out. We were very lucky and about 24 hours later she started to improve. 6 of the piglets survived (although one is slightly injured, but looks like she will survive). It just goes to show, just when you think you are used to delivering piglets, you learn something new!
When our first calf was born here, we had a tough first few days as she didn’t suckle and we realised how important it was that she got the colostrum in her. We gave her 4 hours with her mother but then we milked her mother, Dimple, and tried to bottle feed her. This was not easy as even though we tried to imitate the angle and height of an udder, rubbed colostrum on her nose, put the teat in her mouth and cooed and cajoled, it took well over an hour to get even half a litre into her. This carried on for about four days but then finally, little Freckle began to get the gist of suckling! So we turned her out with her mother, which was nerve wracking as it was really hot and sunny and I was petrified she would dehydrate. When I saw no suckling by lunch time, I tried bottle feeding, to no avail. She kept her suckling hidden for the first couple of days until I finally caught her in the act. Freckle is now pretty big and strong and we’re having the dilemma of when to separate them, which is a much better problem!