Well I have just opened a parcel from my dear sister and she has sent me some bath and shower gel called knackered cow… it is produced by a company called cowshed. I shall look forward to my bath tonight!
As I have not blogged for a wee while regular readers may have realised that life at Prosperous Farm has become a tad challenging in the last 2 weeks.
The day before the calf died found me totally undressed in the house in the middle of the afternoon absolutely terrified that someone would ring the bell. Ruby in her rather zealous mothering fashion had licked me to death as well as the calf and as I had struggled to feed the calf with a bottle of milk and electrolyte mixture and as it had leaked I was rather damp. As you can probably imagine I was also covered in various other bovine related products. I had had to totally strip off outside the back door and even hose off the clothes before putting them in the washing machine.
The effect of being licked all over my head, my hat and my face definitely gave me the rumpled look and all I could do when I came into the empty house was lean against the closed back door and laugh out loud as I really was quite a sight. Strange though it sounds Jethro is often away when we have these animal husbandry emergencies!
Luckily despite my irrational terror on the day no one actually came to the door or rang up so I did not even have to talk coherently down the phone while in such a state of deshabille because that would have been impossible to carry off without laughing and I was also far too cold.
The land work has started again with cultivation and planting of some of the fields which are now left as overwintered stubbles. It is our second year of this particular regime under our Countryside Stewardship Scheme and we have discovered that we have fewer rabbits on this land and many more birds. Previously the rabbits would live on the boundaries of these autumn sown crops totally devastating the field margins, and some years we even had to try to erect rabbit netting. The evidence of this alteration of rabbit habits was discovered at a recent seasonal rabbit shoot. The night’s shooting produced a much smaller yield of rabbits than in previous years. I think also the hard winter may have had some impact too as along the main roads in this area so many young trees have been gnawed by the rabbits and deer that they have been ringbarked. This loss of young saplings will really be noticeable as the year progresses. This ring barking is absolutely widespread this year and not something I have ever noticed in previous winters.
Our lovely natured young boar has been working hard with the gilts and sows [ the evidence of his efforts was all around] but we realise now that he has been very busy but unfortunately firing complete blanks and none of the female pigs are currently pregnant, and the one sow we bought supposedly already in-pig has been found to be barren also. So we are searching for a new proven boar, and start the production cycle again whilst keeping our customers supplied with their outdoor reared rare breed pork.
We will need to be careful to stagger the breeding as monthly batches of piglets suit the meat sales side of the business much better. A sudden burst of too many births at once could mean major problems further down the line especially if all the pork was ready to sell in January or February next year. A pig’s gestation is 3 months, 3 weeks and 3 days so we will be awhile getting back on stream and in the meantime will have to buy a few more weaners from some of our friends with outdoor reared rare breed pigs.