Its' Tuesday, I said I'd write a post for the 15th. As it turns out sometimes life just throws a few curve balls.
I had my blog planned out in my head for Thursday last week, and the weekend was planned to be a busy one anyway. Friday morning I got a phone call from my dad. He has my sheep at the moment on his land and is taking very good care of them. He told me straight that Fudge, the little Soay ram had gone down, he wasn't well.
I immediately made the plan to head over to see to him and rang the vets, it was clear from the description he gave me that something pretty major had gone wrong with him. The poor lad was not able to stand, didn't run away when approached. He was very skinny having lost weight recently (he was distracted by the girls however extra feed and hay have always been on hand for them) and his eyes seemed fixed etc. Now also taking into consideration that Fudge must have been about 9-10yrs old at this point, I really felt that this could be his last day with us, and upon our arrival I agreed entirely with my dad that whatever had happened was isolated to him and that we must act.
Now this is the downside to having animals. Death steps side by side with life. We do what we can to keep them safe, to feed them, to move them to better grazing. All that time spent on hoof care, vaccinations and medications when necessary. For any animal under your care you are obliged to do this and more where you can. At the end you're also obliged to make the decision that ends any possible suffering.
I'm not ashamed to say we kept his horns. Some may find the idea of cutting them off a bit grim maybe, but I don't. He spent years growing them and they are something of him that can be turned into something else, crafted into something beautiful and become a lovely memory of Fudge himself. I look forward to doing whatever I can with them and I will treasure them immensely as I treasured having him with me.
So after that rather blunt end to the week what else happened? Well the four girls who were with Fudge have all been moved fields to now live with Flapjack the other ram we have. We won't know if Fudge did his thing, but hopefully those that fall pregnant will deliver some lovely lambs a touch later in the year. I'm not sorry to say that all my plans for this year are all delayed partially due to weather but also due to some bigger jobs we decided to get on with, some we suddenly decided we just had to do.
We have one more concrete yard to lay for the goats, a large area for the mothers and kids to use, including the dairy. This should make it far more easier for us and the goats. Then there are the horses. Originally we had made the decisions that their yard area was far too big to concrete...well we changed our minds. You'd be amazed how much the rain and mud quickly have you turning your heels on that original decision.
Monday morning saw our local friend deliver 6.5 tons of sand and gravel for starting that huge project. I've spent many a morning with a cup of tea, watching YouTube on laying concrete etc. Its very interesting what can be learnt from this amazing resource in the early hours when your mind is turning over. Of course the weather was heading our way not long after we put the order in for the sand, so now as I type its absolutely chucking it down outside. The sand is covered and awaiting a dry day when we can even begin to think about mixing concrete again.
Friday just gone also saw the last 10 tons of slate arrive which was bought for the paths. For those who have seen pictures of our little place you'll notice we have paths around what I call the propagation area, cold frames and the access to the lean too greenhouse we have. We have paths in the tropical garden which take you to the cabin in which we make all our goats milk soap. There is a path leading to the poly tunnel, and paths around the gardens. Well after this winter so far the tropical garden was more mud than wood chip, the poly tunnel needed a decent set of wellies to even think about reaching that! The area (now under netting for the avian flu outbreak) also needed a hard base, not just mud to slop about on. The path which is actually the public footpath that goes past the chicken area also just needed covering. So we ordered slate; LOTS OF IT! If only it would stop raining now I could actually get the rest of it moved. I'm not bothered to say that I am absolutely goosed after this week, all that walking and barrowing is certainly becoming a test now.
We have lined up another 30 tons to slate a small track down and around the front wall of the house to provide an easy track for the tractor to the wood yard. That project will probably happen in maybe two months.
For those new to our blog you might not know that when we bought this place we had walls, a house a broken outbuilding fit for nothing and a tractor shed blocking the sea view. Literally nothing else existed on site. We've spent a lot of time building and creating what we feel is our prefect smallholding. Animal housing, concrete yards, paths, poly tunnel and plant propagation areas. A greenhouse and a large veg garden are also hugely central to us having places to plant up for bees maybe in the future, more trees and providing a more diverse range of habitats for wildlife and the animals we choose to keep here.
If you like what we do or what to get involved we are sorting out our ability to go online with courses this year as well as now looking into the possibilities of having volunteers come visit us to learn more about running a diverse smallholding. Send us a message if you're interested, and please follow the blog, share it about. We are about to finish off the last few big jobs that turn our little plot of land into the fully working smallholding we always wanted. We hope what we have achieved here (and not on a huge budget we should say) will hopefully be helpful to others.
Thank you for keeping in touch.