Tuesday 28 February 2023

Time for the ewes to come in

Time to bring the ewes into the barn. Still ten days to go before the first lambs are expected but it is good to get them settled in. There is rain forecast on and off for the next week and it is better to bring sheep indoors when they are dry. With very little grass to nibble, they are mainly eating hay and some supplementary feed. Wiltshire Horn sheep are fine for lambing outside but I find indoor lambing much easier to manage, especially if any births are going a little wayward. Some mild weather now will be helpful to get the grass growing again.

New this year: fixed gutters instead of troughs




Monday 20 February 2023

Sow, sow, sow time

A little later than I had intended (but actually with plenty of time to spare still), I commenced sowing some of this season's tender crops: aubergine 'Genie', sweet pepper 'New Ace', sweet pepper 'Demetra', chilli pepper 'Tabasco'. These have all been put into a heated propagator in the utility room. I also sowed some banana shallots 'Zebrune' which are being started off in the greenhouse. Lots more to follow over the ensuing days and weeks.

The vegetable plots have been mulched, fruit trees pruned, berry bushes cut back and new canes tied in, hedges trimmed, seed potatoes are chitting and the asparagus bed ready for the off. Still to do is tidying up the flower borders, some shrub pruning and, once the winter crops are cleared, cleaning the greenhouse glass.

Today I finished off making the barn ready for the expectant ewes. I'll bring them in next week. 

There's always lots more jobs to do, of course, but the main Winter tasks are complete so I will be able to keep focused on sowing, pricking out, sowing, potting on, sowing, planting out and sowing.  

Thursday 16 February 2023

I saw the cygnets

Along the dyke in the field opposite our house I saw three of the 2022 born cygnets, last spotted back in November. If their siblings survived (eight were hatched back in May) they were nowhere to be seen. Nor were the parents who I guess will soon be preparing for the cohort of 2023.

Monday 13 February 2023


I have been busy on the smallholding carrying out a number of small but necessary tasks as we approach Spring and a new growing season and lambing time. The extra daylight hours and the recent clement weather has been very helpful to this end. I have also been busy with a non-smallholding related project, hence the recent scarcity of posts. 

Today was an important day because we collected a new boar. Our old boar, Alfred, was too large and heavy for the two young gilts we have been growing on and he has gone on to pastures new. 

We have been looking for a new young boar for a little while but registered pedigree Saddleback boars are not easy to source. There are in fact currently only just over one hundred in the UK. There will be more soon as breeders will be producing new litters but we needed one that is mature enough to service our gilts who are just reaching breeding age.

Before we found our new boar I used AI (that is artificial insemination, not artificial intelligence) on one of the gilts, who looked like she was in season, two weeks ago. We saw a young boar advertised not too far from us in Downham Market and went to view him last week. Today we brought him home.

We have named him Beowulf (all our pigs have Anglo-Saxon names, and you can't get more Anglo-Saxon than that). He was born last July so is only 7 months old, but old enough to do what we expect of him. He is being kept apart from the other pigs for a week and then they will be moved in with each other. In the photographs you might observe slight foaming at the mouth. He can detect the ladies but has no access to them yet.

He is a fine looking British Saddleback boar and has all the required characteristics to be registered pedigree. For those in the know, his sire bloodline is Consort and his dam is Lottie.