Sunday, 5 July 2015

A normal day..... !!!!


So, it was a normal Saturday. The children got ready for school (Saturday school and sport matches being the norm for us...) The 12yo had a singing exam in a far off place, a mere 50 miles from home after dropping the 10yo to school, so off we went.

Exam went well (fingers crossed for good results) and by 1pm we Archers were all back home.

After a snatched lunch in the baking sun, it was time to see to the sheep. We rounded them up, stuffed them in the stables and brought them out, one by one, to a makeshift race where we each had a job: There were ear tags to clip in, worming injection to administer, feet to check and a spray paint brand to be given to the lambs who would stay on farm as breeding ewes.

It didn't all go to plan; two lambs escaped in the process but were eventually caught and sorted.

By 8pm family Archer had showered, (absolute necessity, in fact; thinking of burning the jeans I had been wearing!!!!) and were sat in the garden, surrounded by cats and chickens, consuming a take-out Chinese.

By 9pm my back insisted I go and lie down and so we all piled into our bed. I conked out, no doubt snoring over Harry Potter film, but all family members seemed quite happy.

This morning a cat, Tabby, woke me at 4.30am... Being as I'd slept from 9pm (a mere 7.5 hours) I was ok about this and duly followed him downstairs to give him biscuits and make myself a coffee. Turns out he was actually telling me (Lassie-style) that the sheep flock was in the garden eating my flaars!

In pjs and wellies I set about rounding up 30 sheep from the garden who had discovered that self-seeded rocket was delicious! Tabby looked on, not interested in auditioning as a sheep dog.

And now I am sat, coffee in hand, so many jobs to do: cleaning, ironing, washing, plant those blasted tumbling toms into the hanging baskets, check on the soon-to-be-mums in the alpaca fields, pack Poo for customers, water garden, pick strawberries before the blackbirds do, mend fence where sheep keep getting through, wash floors and bathrooms, finish a business plan, sort lunch for Grandma visit..... So many jobs, that I can't do any of them.

So I'll just sit awhile and watch the flowers grow.








Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Alpaca babies...

So, it's hot. The alpaca were sheared last Wednesday and just as well, as Bracken produced a stonking baby boy just three days later. Phew! (JIT: Expert planning obviously...... cough, cough)

http://www.thearchersatthelarches.com/products/lou-s-poo

Larches Enzo
Larches Enzo http://www.thearchersatthelarches.com/products/lou-s-poo

Larches Enzo http://www.thearchersatthelarches.com/products/lou-s-poo


He weighed in at 8.9kg and two days later was 9.4kg. Mum is happy and healthy and feeding him beautifully. All we need now is another few trainee Lou's Poo Producers playmates to be born.... keep your fingers crossed please.

http://www.thearchersatthelarches.com/products/lou-s-poo



Monday, 1 June 2015

Gardening in Pictures

Though the sun has been missing from this spring and the temperatures have therefore been reserved, the garden is still thriving thanks to Lou's Poo, Dried Alpaca Fertilizer and the lush rainfall. 

Our garden (ex paddock c1960 really,) has always been a tadge rough cottage garden; the grass is coarse and the moles have been very naughty. However, the Hubby is now an expert mole-catcher, ably assisted by the cats, and the mower is trying to tame the grass. In order to divert the eye from the rubbish lawn, I planted mini-meadows in wooden raised beds last year filling a metre square with our magical alpaca poo and tons of plants, mainly perennials or re-seeders. Eh voila! this year we have been rewarded by pretty mini-meadows that afford us tons of cut flaars for the house... win, win.

Lou's Poo



Lou's Poo, Dried Alpaca Fertilizer

Lou's Poo, Dried Alpaca Fertilizer

Lou's Poo, Dried Alpaca Fertilizer

Lou's Poo, Dried Alpaca Fertilizer


Lou's Poo, Dried Alpaca Fertilizer

Lou's Poo, Dried Alpaca Fertilizer

Sunday, 5 April 2015

Lambing 2015.. Almost half way

The Archers at The Larches Homes and Garden Products, naturally. Gifts for your homes from our Shropshire smallholding. http://www.thearchersatthelarches.com/


So, we have had the cades for 18 days now and though one or two were a likkle ikky for a day or so, I stood for no nonsense and everyone is now fit and well and looking like sumo wrestlers. We have found a need to put prison bars across the stable door where they all live; trying to escape from the little horrors after fueling them, was like a Keystone Cops movie; one in, two out, one between your legs etc. All 8 are eating creep (hard food) and drinking well from the milk bucket, though there is the occasional punch up for the best teat! As soon as I've finished lambing we'll get these ladies out to a paddock during the day, though I'll bring them in at night for warmth.

As you will see from the pic below, these cute lambs are savage. Peoples' coats, jackets, hair are  nibbled viciously and our wellies with the fasteners on the side, are the best chew toys on the market.

The Archers at The Larches Homes and Garden Products, naturally. Gifts for your homes from our Shropshire smallholding. http://www.thearchersatthelarches.com/
Vicious creatures....
Have I mentioned that Hubby is a genius? This year we have night vision CTV in the barn that links to an app on the iPad..... (I almost don't know what I said there but it has made life so wonderful.) There are 4 shots of the barn, all covering the various birthing stables. We can sit in front of the fire, even watching TV, only venturing out into the chill or rain to potter to the barn when there is a change in behaviour. It's wonderful.

At day 16 of the cades' life, our pregnant ewes decided to add to the baby ratio. Cocoa, a first-time mum, was first to birth, delivering 3 healthy good-sized lambs, albeit at shift change at 2am. I had to help a little as she presented the first with a head and just one leg. I almost called my neighbour, who is so kind to us, but in the end I trusted my instincts and delivered the lamb safely myself. I helped again with lamb 2, fearing it was dead. After clearing airways and giving it a bit of a swing, it gave a big cough and was with us in the world. Baby 3 was half in and half out when Cocoa decided to go for a walkabout. I held the lamb and out she came. In the end Cocoa had two girls and a boy. She nickered and licked and prodded them towards her milk. An instinctive, loving mum instantly.

The Archers at The Larches Homes and Garden Products, naturally. Gifts for your homes from our Shropshire smallholding. http://www.thearchersatthelarches.com/
Cocoa and Triplets 2015

Not so Bino, also a first-time mum, also of triplets. She birthed the first lamb and licked it clean, and as I lashed off to get a coffee, leaving the under-birther (12yo) in charge, Bino instantly expelled a tiny, weeny thing. The under-birther leapt the barrier and cleared the baby's passage way, checked it was OK and then bolted (she's fast) to the house to manically ring the front door bell - our emergency signal.

The tiny lamb was only about 1.5lbs and it was clear that even if she could stand she wouldn't be able to reach the teats. I whipped her up in my arms and looked about for something to wrap her in. 'Open your jacket and fleece' I said to the 12yo. She obliged and we popped the chilly, damp lamb into the warm pouch.

I'm very proud of both of our children, they are brave and kind and it's not many pre-teens who want a soggy, birthing juicy lamb down their jumper. Eventually baby lamb and girl moved inside to the sitting room and fire.

The Archers at The Larches Homes and Garden Products, naturally. Gifts for your homes from our Shropshire smallholding. http://www.thearchersatthelarches.com/
Intensive care
It was touch and go with this tiny baby but the 12yo had a steely look in her eye and assured me it would live. We milked mum of colostrum and fed it to all her babies.

In the end, Bino rejected baby number 2, preferring to raise just 1 lamb this first season! A week on and they are all are doing well. Mums and babies are in the field, rejected babies are thriving in the barn. We had to take one of the triplets from Cocoa before we turned her out, as her body conditioning wasn't good enough to care for 3, so now we have three new cades who will join our breeding ewes and live at The Larches full time.

Shrimp, as we've called the tiny one, Bee, her sister and Flopsy, Cocoa's triplet, are all doing well. A friend donated a doggie coat for Shrimp and I'm sorely tempted to get dressed up, pop her into one of those doggie carry bags and take her to lunch, just as the movie/pop stars do with their mini dogs. [I promise I won't.]

The Archers at The Larches Homes and Garden Products, naturally. Gifts for your homes from our Shropshire smallholding. http://www.thearchersatthelarches.com/
Shrimp

The Archers at The Larches Homes and Garden Products, naturally. Gifts for your homes from our Shropshire smallholding. http://www.thearchersatthelarches.com/
Shrimp and Bee
This morning another set of twins were born at 4am and 5am... I was surplus to need I'm pleased to say. That makes 8 babies, just 1 boy among them. Wish I had that ratio with chickens! I'm tired but happy and there are just four more ewes to go. Fingers crossed.

The Archers at The Larches Homes and Garden Products, naturally. Gifts for your homes from our Shropshire smallholding. http://www.thearchersatthelarches.com/


The Archers at The Larches

Lou - Chicken whisperer....

Lou - Chicken whisperer....

Snowy and Moon

Snowy and Moon