Thursday, 21 November 2013

November 2013

Hi all

Time for a catch up.

Firstly ... That cattle dog gains recognition for her improved behaviour .... a bronze obedience certificate....

Even better than that,  today she sneaked into the sheep field after me and when told to 'go back' she went back to the gate ..... sheep and I breathed a loud sigh of relief!
Bless her she really is becoming a diamond!

 Sam has been busy with the ewes ... lots of coloured bums .. some yellow some green and some red............... (and a few with 2 colours)    hopefully all now should be expecting .. so we will be  lambing  mid March.... .  (better stock up on sleep!)

Both sheep and cattle have decided it is time to start feeding them,  so the first bales of hay and straw have been transported out to the fields and devoured with enthusiasm. Lets hope we don't get a 'spring' like last year .... it will be a lots of bales by end of April!

We are currently hosting our third lot of people from a website called HELPX.  HelpX  matches volunteers wanting to work for board and lodging with people who have accommodation and work for them.   Lots of wood has been cut, ditches cleared and brambles removed.  We have met some great people and made new friends.  

Our new Shetland cow, Bonnie,  has asserted her authority over the other  bovine residents ... the others quickly learned not to push their luck with her (not sure I'm totally comfortable with close encounters with her either but she seems to respect humans so far!

Seen our first snow this week!........... bit early for my liking.. better get those helpers to cut some more wood!!


Monday, 7 October 2013

Cattle Dog Surprise

Just back in after a check on all the stock.  Kass as usual loses interest in just pottering about... spots a couple of large black 'sheep'.... and zooms off down the field.

 I watched with interest as she used various tactics to get these reluctant animals to move ... stopping to think between each attempt.  Eventually speedy darts towards the girls encouraged them to move... spurred on now Kass got more determined and I watched in amazement and amusement as my Dexters were moved up the field towards me at the barn.  I called the girls when they got closer and they walked through the gateway into the barn area .......... Kass thinking .... speeds round back of barn to head them off.... I expect her to come racing in and cattle to race out... but shouting 'no' loudly I was amazed to find her stop and return to stand by the gate whilst I give the girls a little treat for their troubles!     Wow!  The cattle dog has arrived!   

Friday, 4 October 2013

Bit quiet here today .... or it would be if the ducks weren't loving the rain! 

  HelpXers  left on Wednesday leaving a huge difference here.  Several trees have been trimmed or pollarded  opening up the veg garden to the sun.  The green house is emptied ready for housing some of the fushia plants for the winter.    The area by the pond is cleared and ready for a seat to enjoy its sheltered sun trap location (that is ofcourse if it isn't teeming down as it is at the moment!).

 The Dexter twins are easier to catch and handle .......... remains to be seen if this lasts.  Their latest trick is to wander in through the gate into the hen run .... they seem to stand there in the run wondering what they are doing there. Maybe they too would like a lovely house... but there would have to be a huge door flap!!

  The ewes are prepared and ready for tupping.   That reminds me I'm supposed to be out shopping for a raddle harness ..... bye for now!

Thursday, 26 September 2013

It must be autumn!

The grass is still growing, the flowers continue to flower but the days are getting conciderably shorter.... so I guess it must be autumn.  Time of preparation for the winter.

We have acquired a new livestock trailer. ........

Lots going on here ..... apples being pealed and cored by the hundred. Blackberries being picked (and horsefly bites being accumulated in the process!).  Pies made and frozen.  Runner beans also being frozen daily.    Firewood being sawn. 

Yesterday I had my first attempt at plum chutney........... wow  what a success, it tastes delicious. (might be tempted to thaw out the stewed plums I put in the freezer to make some more. ) Recipe was  3lb  plums, 1lb apples 1lb soft brown sugar, pint vinegar, 1lb raisins  and some chillies, mixed spice, garlic  and salt.  boil for about an hour. 

Cattle fluke drenced ................

We have a couple helping us at the moment via an organisation called Help x.  It is great to be able to finish some of those jobs that we have started and make real progress.  They have been particular help clearing the pond area so we can access the pond which was rapidly being taken over by willow and aspen.  

The other job we are tacking together is reminding the Dexters they are halter trained.... half an hour each day will hopefully make things much easier.  I couldn't do this by myself so is great to have some keen and really useful help.

Thursday, 19 September 2013

The Summer, Sheep and Other Animals... cont....

Those ducks, now almost full sized, are convinced I'm their greatest predator! ... all because I tried yesterday to direct them on an outing to a stream amd pool......  several circuits of their pen, a dash into the field... run down stream them up into bushes!   Ian and I perform a pincer movement within hedge (branches attacking me from all direction) .. we get them back to pool only to watch them circuit the pool and dash for home!    Today one sighting of me and they screamed (in duck speak) and scattered in all directions. Hmmm  will have to rethink this mummy duck lark!

Other additions include Sam the Ram  and 8 more Llanwenog ewes.  Sam is a friendly chap who we hope will father our next generation of Llanwenogs.

The new girls are a mix of ages .... the older ones have settled the rest down so we now have an almost manageable mini flock.

Oh my goodness just noticed how many spelling errors I'd done in this ...... am I getting rusty from not teaching already? Now with corrections done maybe I can continue!! 

Kass continues to hone her herding skills at any opportunity (ie when she escapes my watchfull eye and dashes for sheep field!!).  Yesterday I was quite impressed by her attempts ....... all but one sheep taken to barn ,,, that one proved a bit of a problem!  I decided to try to encourage her a bit instead of my usual... grab her at first opportunity,  so tried to help with last sheep ... Kass decided to leave that one up to me and took off back to where rest were by barn ..... a quick think and she legged it right round the barn, under the gates and sent them all haring off back across the field.  Now tiring she sank into the brook where was able to  attach her back to her lead.    I was quite impressed at her approach and quick thinking .......... I just need to find the stop and go button and we will be a great team!

Ian has been busy trying out his new invention ..... a harrow for the quad...


Friday, 13 September 2013

The Summer, Sheep and Other Animals

As the days are suddenly getting shorter  and the list of undone jobs longer  I find myself thinking back through the summer. 

Someone told me it always rains in Wales .... well it doesn't!  We have had a lovely sunny warm (occasionally hot) summer.  We have had a bit of damp, some showers and  the odd day of torrential.... but these serve to fill the lovely waterfalls and replenish our water source.  There is often talk of people not being in touch with where their food comes from ...... but I am finding myself reminded of where our water comes from now it is direct from the sky, to ground, to tap within 100m of our house!

Our livestock numbers have swelled ...

Firstly our twin Dexters arrived.  A lovely pair. They are the longer legged variety.  Very inquisitive and like to know what you are up to. Happily follow a bucket anywhere. 
They have grown but will always be quite small, they remind me of Jersey x angus calves I used to work with.
One unfortunate incident happened with them a month ago..... I was tying one to a gate when she went for a walk..... my thumb became caught in rope .... result one broken thumb!   I now know the meaning of being human ... our thumb is what sets us appart from animals  and there is so much you cant do without one!!

Then some more feathered friends ... very cute!! The 6 ducklings lived in our entrance hall for a few weeks till the smell drove us to sort out an outside pen.......... they currenttly live in a rabbit hutch whilst their duck house awaits repairs.

to be continued.......


Thursday, 12 September 2013

Nantygroes  News June 2013   Ian and Linda Tame

May was a manic month with several visits from friends and relations, all of whom have left their mark on the place…. Reducing weeds, fencing chickens, catching sheep, and everyone’s favourite, ….. feeding the orphan lambs.  Thank you to all.

We had our up’s and down’s with the animals.  Firstly we were given 3 orphan lambs by a neighbour…. Bottle fed initially, they have grown at a rampant rate and are now our grazing the grass and buttercups. Sometime in late summer they will relocate to a freezer or two but that is for the future.

Kass is now attending puppy classes one evening a week and generally proving that she has far too much energy. She has tried training herself to round up the sheep … neither sheep nor me are very impressed!   She loves water and takes any opportunity to race about in it (think she is in the right place!)

We had a rather sad time with one of our  Llanwenog ewes. We found her lambing down in the field one day (none were supposed to be in lamb).  Unfortunately the lamb was presented very badly and the ewe had been in labour for rather a long time and we lost the lamb.  Even more sadly after a 2 weeks struggle with antibiotics and TLC the ewe succumbed to an infection and also died.

Last week our flock reduced further as I waved goodbye to our 2 inherited ewes who have been taken on by our neighbouring farmer. Not sad to see them go and a good exchange for the 3 lovely friendly orphans.

The glorious weather for the last 10 days has at last started our vegetable garden on the road to growing something… lots of things poking through now, I just hope we get to harvest something later in the year.

The weather has also had a fabulous effect on our beautiful shrubbery garden with everything blossoming just in time to be on display for the Talley Open Gardens day last Saturday.   The first car arrived bang on 10am and we only had 20 minutes to ourselves all day. We met lots of new people and hopefully a few new useful contacts.

Another opportunity for new contacts happened last week when a collection of smallholders (any suggestions for a collective noun?) met up for the first time. We spent 2 hours introducing ourselves and hopefully started what will be an ongoing support network and friendships. 

The result of meeting one couple there, was a trip to the coast at Aberporth, where they live.  We took the dogs to the beach in the morning. Kass loved it especially being able to dig frantically in the sand (without the usual ‘stop that’ being issued) .. I took photos as her head disappeared below the surface.  We spent the afternoon with Anne and David, with whom we got on very well. They took us to see their small Dexter herd and by the end of the afternoon we had agreed to buy twin heifers. They are 7 months old , halter trained and adorable!  Roll on the end of the week when they are being delivered!!!

Looking forward over the next couple of weeks we are helping out at the Cwmdu and Talley fete next Saturday  and shearing the following week …. Oh and spending lots of time making those 2 new girls feel at home!

Best wishes  Linda and Ian .  

Nantygroes News 3 months on

We have been here 3 months now and have grown many more legs!  Firstly 8 Pedigree Llanwenog sheep joined us on Sunday 24th March.  4 ewe lambs and 4 two year olds.   They are growing well and one called Polly eats out of my hand.


We also have 6 chicks, or they were chicks at Easter, now half grown and banned to the garden so the next new resident could move into the cage indoors …  Kassie   our new collie puppy is 4 months old and blind in one eye.. but as lively and clever as a collie puppy should be.  Jovi and I have trouble keeping up!

So, including us and the cats I think that makes 72 legs…… Ian has banned me from adding any more for a little while so may have to hide the 2 orphan lambs arriving tomorrow!

Other news: we performed as part of the chorus  in  Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Sorcerer  last Saturday  to raise money for the church . The main parts being played by proper singers, us locals  the chorus. We practised all day on Saturday and did the performance at 7pm…. We were very glad it was all over by 9pm!!

Don’t forget to keep in touch and visit us. 

Best wishes:   Linda, Ian and the other 68 (or 80)  legs!   


Stop press  3 lambs  so  84 legs!!!!

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

February 2013

Sat in our sun room watching spring arrive…. 4 Robins vying for each other’s attention, 2 Greater Spotted woodpeckers dancing around a tree,  a Red Kite rises from the pond area and soars up to join another circling in the distant sky, a rabbit races away from the tortoiseshell feral cat stalking through the rushes. Primroses starting to flower in the borders, and pink bugs opening to paler pink blossom on a shrub. Distant bleating of lambs for their mothers, and bird song of every description compete to fill the silence.

What a way to start a morning… it is 8am and the alternative would be a commuter dash!  Actually I started the morning investigating a noise inside our wooodburner (which fortunately was not alight) I opened the doors to find a small sparrow looking at me…. It didn’t panic but let me pick it up and release it outside, giving us both a story to tell our grandchildren!

Life here is gaining momentum. I can’t import any livestock yet as I’m waiting for the Holding number to be ejected by the bureaucratic paper merchants.  Time therefore to visit other holdings and get ideas and contacts. Everyone is so friendly and happy to spend over 2 hours touring and talking about their smallholding and livestock. We have seen many sheep. Goats, poultry and horses and got ideas for buildings and machinery (Ian’s must haves!)  , drunk much coffee and made new friends.  I have decided on the breed of sheep I’m getting and even found a lad who will sell me some of his prize winning Llanwenog sheep when I’m ‘official’. 

Another great find was Derek ,who with his wife Mandy run a lovely smallholding  in the west of the county. Derek is a wiz with websites and is doing all the techy bits for us so is developing.  Check it out…. Only a holding page there at the mo but watch that space!!

We have had some visitors come to stay. Ella, my granddaughter, decided she wants to live with ‘nanny and the sheep’.  Eileen and Nick dropped in for an afternoon. stayed the night, booked another weekend to give us a helping hand and a holiday week in July…

Nick helped Ian with the current project. Renovating a duck house and building the pen around it. Ian has made a fab ‘rustic’ gate.  It is a great job and will soon be ready for our first ducks.  Stop press!  A large heron has just swooped down onto our pond. Last week it picked up a mass of frogs spawn and deposited it on the gate post.

First Post January 2113

Hi from us here in Wales.  We (Ian, Linda and Jovi) moved into Nantygroes through the snow on January 23rd.   What a lovely picture, the welsh cottage and surrounding area all snowy white. Having nothing to move in, except ourselves and a few essentials,  left lots of time for a fun exploration of fields and woodland with snow drifts reaching almost to the knees and a snowball fight.

Over the weekend, with the help of Aaron, Keiron, Chris and Laura, we moved all Linda’s stuff from the storage in Bristol.  The youngsters were a fabulous help (some of my oak furniture is VERY heavy) and fun to be with.  I enjoyed testing out the rangemaster cooker the previous owners left us!

The views here are amazing, and so is the weather!  In a week we have seen snow, hail, gales, rain (so heavy even hardened locals commented) and yes even some sun! 

We inherited some local wildlife to care for. The previous owners left us lots of wild bird food to continue feeding the wild birds.  I’ve seen many species enjoying the feast including a beautiful Nuthatch and a pair of Great Spotted woodpeckers… oh and a couple of squirrels!   Bertie, the local Buzzard, visits daily for some leftovers and the feral tortoise shell cat appears to be fed too.

We also inherited 2 very fat and not very friendly sheep called Gladys and Lucky. Ian had his first taste of catching, turning and foot trimming… he learned sheep run very fast as lucky legged it to the far corner of the farm not to be seen for 24hrs!  (I have caught her since, and her feet are now trimmed too!)