Tuesday 29 May 2012

Meet the Mcfarlanes

This is Alistair Mcfarlane with his family Debbie and Freddy.  The Mcfarlanes have the butchers shop in Middleton-in-Teesdale and I often pop in after work to get my meat for the week before coming home to Swaledale.  Debbie attends Middleon Primary School and Freddy is in the nursery and starts 'big school' in September.  This weekend they had a great time camping by the river at our sister farm Hoggarths.  If you like the idea of wild camping visit http://www.swaledalecamping.co.uk/ its a great site.

Debbie found a thrush's nest built in a most unusual place in the folding arm of a piece of farming equipment.  It is strangely constructed of twigs, straw, sheep's wool and plastic bale string!!
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Saturday 26 May 2012

What a difference a week makes

 We have had a six days of gorgeous weather; blue skies and sunshine from dawn till dusk. Exactly a week today I looked out onto this very field with dismay.  It was as bare as our stone floor, no sign of new growth other than a few pathetic looking daisies tightly closed against the bitter cold wind.  Then two days later everything changed; the sun shone and the air was warm and the grass started to grow before our very eyes.  The flowers are now opening and the whole field has taken on a golden glow as the buttercups wave in the breeze. 

We have almost finished lambing, just a handful of stragglers left.  The sheep that have lambed are doing much better and at last, on these peaceful, balmy evenings the lambs in the pastures race and chase and play games.  Long may this wonderful weather continue. 
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Saturday 19 May 2012

Keld Countryside & Heritage Centre ~ Birds of Upper Swaledale

After lunch and about to set off for the moors in the hope of seeing Black Grouse and Golden Plover

Today, Saturday 19th May was the start of a series of events taking place fromThe Keld Countryside & Heritage Centre.  A 'Birds of Upper Swaledale' Guided Walk,  lead by Rev David Peel and his wife Pat, both knowledgeable and experienced bird watchers was the first event of the season.  Despite the unseasonably cold and wet weather that we have experienced this month, the day remained dry and calm and the event was well supported both locally and from further afield (the furthest being from Doncaster).  Eight people stayed for the whole day with a further two sets of three people joining the group for either the morning or the afternoon session.  The feedback has been both  positive and encouraging and it is hoped that the event will be repeated next year.  Thanks to Rev & Mrs Peel for their valued time and support in making today a success.   

The next event is a Farm Walk on Sunday 10th June from 1 - 3 p.m.  Please meet at the Countryside & Heritage Centre in Keld at 12.45 p.m. Enjoy this easy-moderate walk through meadow, pasture & moorland guided by a local farmer who will happily answer your questions about the sheep and their surrounding landscape.

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Thursday 17 May 2012

Lambing ~ Down to the Last Few

On the sunny side of the wall
 Lambing has almost finished.  We are down to just a handful left to lamb.  It has been a testing time this year and at times seemed that everything was against us.  The weather has been simply dreadful; wet, windy and bitterly cold.  Weeks of  poor weather can cause lots of  problems with both the sheep and the lambs and they need constant shepherding.  The other big worry is that our grass isn't growing.  Despite all this the ewes with a fine, healthy single lamb have been turned back to the moor (everything has a its time in the farming calendar).  Those with twins stay in the pastures and get extra feed so that they can continue to nurture two lambs.  Regardless of the long hours, driving rain and hard work I am sorry that lambing is over.  I shall miss tending to the sheep in the building; foddering, filling water buckets, bedding up, tidying up and generally noting that all is well.  Still, there's always next year to look forward to!
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Tuesday 1 May 2012

Meet ScrappyDo and his Friends!

This is ScrappyDo!  He is the tiniest lamb you have ever seen and just so cute.  He is about a week old but much smaller than the lambs born today.  I call him my 'handbag lamb'. 

The lambs love to go to sleep in the hayracks.  Hay is much softer than straw and it doesn't take the lambs long to work out that the hay racks make much nicer beds.  I had to wake these two up before I could refill it. 

ScrappyDo in the hayrack (a sheep's answer to a playpen!)

ScrappyDo and his mum
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The Perfect Ending for our 'Happy Ending' Lamb

The little lamb that recovered after spending time infront of the fire has successfully been turned out into the field with his twin sister.  His mum is very protective and doing a great job with them both.

Finding shelter in the rushes.  Don't they look cosy?
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