Tuesday, 26 January 2010

A difficult time

Louise and Jasper in the snow - April 2008

When we moved to Wales everyone warned us that we'd end up pale ghosts of who we used to be, deprived, as we would be, of the sun. Vitamin D levels would plummet; the Child Bride (oh, now i've gone and let Louise's pet name out of the bag; oh well, never mind...), already a pale skinned beauty would become veritably paled. Rubbish we said.

Well, summer (ha) 2007 was a washout; never mind, the law of averages would mean 2008 would be "a scorcher". Well it bloody wasn't. It was awful. It was great in spring, but come the summer and it was constant rain from one day to the next, with temperatures scraping 13c it was more like October. Day after day it just rained. I did manage to get the footings in for the new greenhouse we planned, and earlier, in June we had painted the house, but after that... well it was rubbish.

At the end of July, with all the rain and a relatively warm spell we found a ram lamb with fly-strike. He was quite bad and it just shows you how quick it can come on, all of them being checked daily. Anyway, we bathed it with Battle Oil and he seemed more comfortable - well he would wouldn't he.

In mid-August No. 1 sheep went with 2 ewe lambs to Crymych mart - and sold, £41 for No 1 and £22 each for the little lambs.

By August we had been worming the lambs regularly from 4 weeks, with Combinex, a combined wormer and flukicide. The withdrawal period (the time from which the animal must remain alive before being slaughtered for meat) was 56 days, so we had given them their last dose a while ago, calculating a slaughter date 56 days hence. At the end of August we found the fly-stricken lamb collapsed, he is breathing with difficulty and has a bad cough. We did all we could with antibiotics etc. but he died.I spoke to the vet and he said that following the fly strike his immunity would be low and other than what we did there was nothing we could have done. Louise was heartbroken.

A week later and we have lost another - the brother of the first lamb! We were both upset and I took the carcase to the veterinary lab in Carmarthen. The result - he was riddled with worms. This was the worst possible result in many ways as it was down to us to control the worm burden of our livestock and we had failed. It seems that we should have used a wormer with a shorter withdrawal period so we could worm right up to when they went off. A hard lesson learned. Anyway, things could only get better and this was why we were here, to learn and experience life on a holding.

Things improved from here. The weather improved dramatically and we erected our smashing new 10' x 8' greenhouse (in 3 days - it's not your usual 10x8 greenhouse...)

and this year's pigswent off to slaughter with the result being THE best gammon steaks and joints you've ever tasted.

We also had a visitor to the holding - a wonderful Jacob ram (on loan) that tupped our girls in the November. Our day-jobs are looking decidedly dodgy - we are both working for addictedtotravel.com, but there are money worries ahead as the recession bites hard. So we end 2008 with several questions - will we have jobs come spring, and are our sheep in-lamb and if so just what colour will the lambs be...?

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