Sunday, 31 January 2010

BBBRRRrrrrrrr it's cold out here

Freachan & Cullan above Creag Mhor

Wee Wendy & Tougs

Cullan & Creag Mhor in the snow

Freachan washing Sandy & Craigy

BBBRRRrrrrrrrr it is cold out here, I don't know about you lot but my thermals have had some use this month, I know they are passion killers, but i would rather that than be vain and freeze to death.
Well we have had snow at last here, it had to come at some point as we have had very little up to now.
Freachan thinks it's great he loves it so much out doors, to him it is just a big playground of fun.
Cullan being older and wiser looks at him like he should grow up but more that he is cracked, alas poor Cullan he forgets he was exactly the same when he was little too.
Well we have been waiting for Beauty to have her baby she was due on the 28th Jan.
We sorted the cattle out this morning fed them and put them out for a drink, we kept Beauty in because we did not want her going away and having the calf on the sly, then decide not come back home with it, they do that hide them from you so you spend hours looking for them, it was to cold to be having a calf outside anyway.
My hubby checked her bones this morning and said they had moved her udder was solid too, so in she stayed.
Pal and Wee Wendy are still in, as Wee Wendy is a bit small to be out in the cold snow, we don't want her to go down with pneumonia.
So we cleaned the byres ready for the cattle coming back in later.
I was filling the feed buckets ready to go in the stalls for the evening, I went into the shed where Beauty was tied in the stall, with two buckets in my hands, I looked down and there was a head and two feet sticking out, by the time I put the two buckets in the adjacent stalls and turned around the calf had popped out behind mum.
It is a little girl jet black like her full sister Gemma, a quick learner too just like her sister, straight to the teat no messing.
We put them in the calving pen together so mum could give her a good lick to dry her off and bond properly.
They will stay in there until the calf is steady on her feet and knows who her mother is.
Calves sometimes can be a little fly too, they go down the line behind the cows and check to see if they can steal milk from someone else, they usually get a firm kick from the none to keen cow.
But new Born's have a stupid sense when they are born, and will go in to any stall to get a drink from an unsuspecting cow, it's not the calves fault it's just one teat look much like another, but they learn quickly after a few short sharp kicks.
Tougs our other calf is doing well too, he has started demanding his food, and will push you about if you do not give him anything before you feed everyone else, as you go in and out of the shed with hay he tries to catch you with his head.
Freachen our Jack Russell has opened a beauty salon of his own in the ram shed.
He has taken to sitting in between the two Ram pens on the hay, the Rams have learned that if they put their head up to the pen gates Freachen will give them a wash every morning, ears, nose and eyes, boy don't they look clean when he has finished.
Know there is a race for the first wash, Sandy demands he gets washed first by charging at the pen and just stopping short so Freachan pays attention to him, Craigy just stands up on the pen wall to dominate the space, so poor Freachan is stuck in between the two Rams not knowing who to do first.
It usually works out without to much of a to-do.

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Water, Water, give me water

We have been in the grips of a really cold snap, fortunately we have not had the snow others have had, but it is still cold enough to freeze the do-da's off a proverbial brass monkey.
We lost our water about 10 days ago due to the cold weather, as some of you might know we are not on the water mains like many of our fellow human beings, we get our water from the mountain behind the house, less fluoride or additives that way ; )

We have a very large water vat half way up the hill, which is a beggar to keep climbing up to when the water goes of for something stupid like a bit of bracken stuck down the main infill pipe to the vat from the burn.
But it keeps you fit.
Anyway with it being so cold the ground has been frozen solid, and I could actually walk on the ice all the way up our burn outside the house, never been able to do this for years, the ice was about 3" thick in places.
Every time I burst a hole through it to get water for the animals because the byre water supply was off to, I had to burst the ice again in the afternoon because it froze over so quickly.
Anyway we have a 62mm plastic hose that runs from the vat on the hillside under the train track underpass, then it is dug under ground about 3 feet down to the house.
About 20 feet from the house the hose changes to a 3/4" bore, at a Y piece that supplies water to the byre and the house, this is where it appeared to freeze and cut off our supply.
Well the byre water came back on after about 6 days the house water supply was a different matter.
In the end my husband had to go out on Saturday with a punch bar that he uses for fencing and try to break the ground up around the smaller hose.
After much huffing and puffing he managed to get daylight to the hose, another hour later and banging of the pipe, also pouring hot water and salt solution down the pipe, a low groan and gurgling noise was heard to come from way down the pipe, all of a sudden the water came blasting out with shards of ice being pushed out from the pressure of the water.
Once the air was out of the pipe he reconnected it and hey presto we had water again.
The tank in the attic void was filling nicely, once it was full the hot water was put on, I for one was sick of having what they call a sink wash, I needed a long soak in a hot tub ahhh.
One thing to remember hubby dear, don't turn off the cold water tap over night again when it's freezing outside if you want to keep the water to the house ; )

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Pictures as Promised

A few pictures as promised earlier.

1. Pal first time mum and baby Wee Wendy.
2. Wee Wendy one day old.
3. Little Cracker Freachan pinching a present from under the Christmas tree.
4. Freachan waiting for his treat.
5. Cullan wanting his dinner.

Sunday, 10 January 2010

Walking on Thin Ice

I am beginning to think that I am being tested by someone above.
My life is like an adventure or thriller novel which ever way you want to look at it, I seem to have more than my fare share of near misses and catastrophes, I think someone else should take the lead for a short while and give me a rest.
Why I hear you ask?
As some of you may know we are in the grip of a cold Winter, luckily we have not had as much snow as the rest of the country, perhaps that's because we are sheltered by Creag Mhor or because we are at sea level, what ever the reason we seem to have had more Black Ice and flash freezing than anything else.
Well to start this from the beginning, yesterday my husband was away for the day, collecting cattle feed, it was quite a cold day but not as cold as today, I started to fill the buckets for the cattle coming in in the afternoon, I thought I would bring them in a little earlier as the clouds looked rather threatening in the sky.
So away I went across the Mointeach Mhor to bring them in, it was easy to walk down as everything is frozen solid including the peat bogs which you usually have to walk around.
As I got closer to the heard, one of the cows Rosie was on the other side of the river hooting and mo-owing, I looked around the heard and realised Rosie's calf was not amongst the calves, I ran towards the river which is frozen solid, about 3" of ice thick in places.
There was Rosie's calf Ruby, on the other side of the iced over river bank, she must have crossed over to be with mum and broke through the ice, but the bank was to high for her to climb out.
She was trying to get up the ever higher bank which was covered in gorse and heather making it very difficult for her to get a grip.
When she came to rest her head was perched on the ice that's all I could see, if she slipped off the ice she might have gone under and not been able to get back out.
I thought the best thing to do was to try and guide her back down a little way to a lower side of the bank, I knew I might be in for a wetting crossing the ice to help her, so I took of my big jacket, for two reasons, one to stop me sinking with the weight of it wet and two to have something dry to come home in just in case.
Well the just in case was right, as I crossed the iced over river, Ruby began to dance about, she caused the ice to fracture, then all of a sudden a four foot square piece gave away and tipped up in the air, I slipped off and into the water, what was worse was I did not realise it was so deep, I went up to my neck in the freezing water, I could only just touch the bottom, the gasp that I let out must have been heard in Glasgow.
Now in a way I know this might sound strange, but I expected it to be really cold, as years ago I used to do a lot of coastal Scuba Diving so I knew how cold it could be, but it was the shock of it and not being able to get a proper footing that worried me.
Anyway I give myself a second to collect my thoughts and decided what to do, I waded up to Ruby who was now calm she must have sensed I was in to help her, I grabbed her tail and pulled her around in a half circle to face her towards the lower bank, she was only being held up by the ice, as she could not touch the bottom at all, she was now wading in the water, and everything depended on her having the strength to pull herself up, the dogs were barking and whining, Rosie was really agitated be now, and I was absolutely freezing.
Well Ruby did it she scrambled her front half up and I shoved her from behind the rest of the way, she got up and ran to mum without a thank you or glance back to see if I was okay, that's gratitude for you.
Well I was so cold I had a bit of a time getting back on to the ice where I fell in, I was once told that if you fall into and iced over pond always try to get out where you went in as it carried your weight up until the point of entry so it was 99% guaranteed to hold your weight on the way out.
Well I managed to slide up onto the ice and roll over to the bank back where I came from, all the while the dogs were going mad.
I got onto the bank, freezing and shacking with the cold and shock, I stripped of my jumper and shirt and put on my jacket, my wellingtons which were more of a hindrance than a help under water were full, and I had a nightmare trying to get them off with the suction, I tipped out the water and put them back on.
I ran for home my teeth were knocking together so violently I thought they might push them back into my gums.
I managed to get home, and stripped off the wet and freezing clothing, the towel and coal fire where a blessing.
I found it hard to sleep last night with flash backs of the days events, I was also in agony, I have bruising covering the back of both my legs, from my bum to the back of my Knees.
But these will heal, the calf Ruby is well, she got a good rub down too, and a penicillin, just to make sure she does not go down with anything nasty.
As a result yes I was walking on thin ice and lost one of my nine lives, but all's well that end's well.

Saturday, 9 January 2010

Upcoming Agricultural Events

For those of you who may be interested I have listings of some upcoming Agricultural Events.
These events need your support as more and more of them are disappearing due to one thing or another.
So if you have time on your hands then maybe you would be interested to see how much work and preparation goes into these events, not only by animal handlers and exhibitors like us, but behind the scenes too.
There is something for everyone and it makes a great day out for the family, the kids will get to see animals they never thought they would see close up.
Anyway that's enough of that, the listed shows are events my husband and I have visited ourselves or exhibited our livestock at over the years.
You never know you may bump into us at one of the Agricultural Shows.
If you want me to list any you know of in your area, then send me an email and I will see what I can do. I will list Event/Date and contact number.

Northumberland County Tynedale Park Corbridge 31 May 2010 Tel 01434 604216
Road To The Isles Show Camasdarach Arisaig 12 June 2010 Tel 01687 450655
Royal Highland Show Ingleston Edinburgh 24-27 June 2010 Tel 0131 3356212
The Great Yorkshire Show Harrogate 13-15 July 2010 Tel 01423 546231
Cumberland County Show Carlisle Racecourse 17 July 2010 Tel 01697 747397
Tiree Agricultural Society Show Rural Centre Isle of Tiree 23 July 2010 Tel 01879 220321
Sutherland Show The Links Dornoch Sutherland 24 July 2010 Tel 01862 810162
Biggar Show The Showfield Biggar 24 July 2010 Tel 01899 810262
Nairn Show Kinnude Farm Auldearn 31 July 2010 Tel 01309 641121
Turriff Show The Showfield The Haughs Turriff 1-2 August 2010 Tel 01888 568830
Black Isle Show Mannsfield Showground Muir of Ord 4-5 August 2010 Tel 01463 870870
Lorn Show Near Oban 7 August 2010 Tel 01631 770228
Grantown Show Heathfield Park Grantown on Spey 12 August 2010 Tel 01343 555113
Orkney Show Bignold Park Kirkwall Orkney 14 August 2010 Tel 01856 771441
Appin Show Stalker Croft Appin Date TBC Tel 01631 730365
Lochaber Show Torlund Home Farm Near Fort William Date TBC Tel 01397 708508
Christmas Classic Thainstone Centre Inverurie 29-30 November 2010 Tel 01467 623786

I look forward to seeing you there.

Saturday, 2 January 2010

Catch up and a Happy New Year

Firstly I would like to wish my faithful followers a Peaceful and Prosperous 2010.
I have not published for a little while as those of you who follow will know, I have had a rubbish 2009.
My father is still very much in my everyday thoughts, not just because of this time of year but also because he would have been 70 years old on the 4th of January.
My illness is still hanging on and is getting to me, my fuse is a little shorter than it was before, because the specialists cannot seem to ease my problem.
But this year I have to move on one step at a time to get on top of all these soul destroying problems.

We had a quiet Christmas, not through choice I might add.
The snow started on Friday 18th December, we had a flurry of snow which persisted through the night.
Then after that we had snow on and off but not huge amounts like they had down south or in the North of Scotland.
But the problem became worse when we had low temperatures, this caused the dirt track to become an ice rink.
So luckily we did the Christmas food shopping in Fort William.
Because the weather was so unpredictable we decided to stay at home, there was nothing needed that was so important to risk life and limb for on the road.

We are having to let the cows out of the byre one at a time because it is so slippery under foot, once they get out on to the common grazing's they wander off for the day, the sun in the afternoon is melting the snow out there so they are finding something to pick at.
Once they come back in they get a good feed and a warm bed.
The young calves were fluke and mite dosed today, I must say they were really mild tempered, what a difference there is between calves weened in the winter and calves weened in the summer.
Winter calves are in the shed through the night so they get used to you being around them and will let you stroke them.
Summer calves are out on the common grazing's all of the time and do not have the human interaction so are a bit more fiery when you try to do anything with them.
So that is the calves in for the duration now once they are weened from mother.
The mothers are all in calve and some of them are due imminently.
One of the heifers "Pal" is due right now so we are up through the night checking her to make sure all is well.
The old crofters used to say that the cow will sometimes go into labour when the moon is at it's fullest, but Pal is still hanging in there.

Our sheep now nine of them are all in lamb, Sandy the Cheviot ram went out at the beginning of November and has worked well, lots of Green markings on rumps that's the main thing, so we should be expecting babies around about 1st April, (no it's not an April fool).

We lost poor old Snowy the big White Charolais this year, she went out on the common grazing's with the others in the morning and never came back in the evening, we went out to look for her and there she was, at first we thought she was a sleep, but she was not old age comes to us all we can never escape it.
She was one of my husbands father's last original cows, we both had a soft spot for her, she is missed even now, her great grand daughter "Pal" inherited her stall and she fills it just as much as Snowy did.
Lets hope she follows in her great grandmothers footsteps.
Penny one of our other heifers gave birth to a little boy a couple of months ago, not that he is so little, he is also Snowy's great grandson, he is a beautiful fawn coloured Charolais and we named him Tougs.
He is soft natured like granny, and full of mischief, nosey too.
When I get the camera down-loaded I will post pictures.

It will soon be time to take the tree down, it is beautiful, a traditional fat six footer
I will miss it this year, as it is one of the nicest trees I have had for a long time.
We are all snug this evening in front of a Peat burning open fire, as we have been through the Christmas holidays.
All that hard work in the spring has come to some use, Peat has a beautiful aroma when you go out into the night air, it reminds you of so many things from your child hood.

My New Year resolution is to keep blogging more frequently than I did last year.
Anyway I will close for now, wishing you all a Happy New Year and pop in anytime to find out what we are up to.