Thursday, 7 July 2011

Wash and brush up all round.

It was not just Tess who had her beauty treatment this week. First of all the sheep had a massive one. Their fleeces have become increasingly tatty with great swags of wool hanging off on the hedges, where they have scratched. It must have been so irritating. Well now they have been shorn. They are no longer nice, woolly sheep - they are ungainly, lumpy things on four legs - only attractive, I would think, to a male of the species.

In addition they have all had a pedicure (note to self: keep Tess out of the yard for a day or two because pared horn is one of her favourite foods!) Their feet have been scrubbed and sprayed in an effort to keep foot problems as low as possible (eradication is impossible). They have all been drenched - a spout has been unceremoniously poked into their mouths with a dose of something horrible and finally their bottoms have been dealt with - and their teats. These both get unbelievably dirty, sticky and messy - a perfect breeding ground for flies and then maggots. It has not been a pleasant job but it is done and they are back in their field and decidedly frisky with it.

Then the heifers were brought in and drenched. They did not like it and, being larger and more boisterous than the sheep, made their feelings felt in no uncertain way. So each one had to be placed in a crush to be dealt with. Their feet were pared down and washed and I am sure they felt all the better for it, although one was in such a hurry to get back to the field that it knocked its leg and is now limping - so we must keep an eye on that one.

The last thing to have a treatment was the yard. You can imagine the mess - poo of both kinds, wool, parings, wool-clippings etc. So after waiting 24 hours, hoping for a real downpour to start the process and none being forthcoming, yesterday the farmer spent most of his day cleaning up.

Still it is all done and dusted and everything is back in the fields behaving as though nothing has happened. This morning the farmer has been picking gooseberries, of which we have stones. I have made ten pounds of gooseberry and elderflower jam (good recipe for this on the internet) and as I still have gooseberries in the freezer from last year I really don't want any more. Luckily various people want some and it is lovely to give away produce.

On the subject of jam I always make a lot of raspberry jam as it is the best to fill sandwich cakes. This year we have had a lot of strawberries too, most of which we have eaten for tea. Any that have been left over I have put in with the raspberries in the jam and I must say the strawberries give the jam a nice flavour. If you are a jam-maker do try it.

Very changeable and stormy weather here with plenty of downpours. Did I once post a blog saying we were desperate for rain???

16 comments:

Dave King said...

I was going to commend you for using raspberries, not strawberries - only because Doreen is allergic to them and restaurants seem to have them as an ingredient in just about every sweet - and other courses too, quite often. Interesting as always.

Elizabeth said...

Gosh!
Never a dull moment.
Yes, picturesque farm animals are often less than picturesque close to. A good wash and brush up obviously in order.
Please make a gooseberry fool and eat it for me.
One of my most favorite puddings and rare as hens' teeth here.
Stewed gooseberries are too hairy.....
Yes, raspberry jam is better than strawberry inVictoria sponged.

Elizabeth said...

typos galore....sorry!

MorningAJ said...

I'm jealous of your goosberries. I planted a couple of bushes this year (my garden is VERY tiny) but there was no hope of fruit in the first season. Maybe next year.

angryparsnip said...

Gosh, what a huge job and mess.
We tourist only see beautiful fluffy white sheep and darling cows frolicking in gorgeous green fields. We get the fantasy, the farmers get the hard work.

cheers, parsnip

Heather said...

All this rain is down to you then, and I hope the newly shorn sheep have their macs handy! All of that cleaning and paring sounds like backbreaking work even with help. Your larder and freezer must both be well stocked with preserves and produce. I always think it is so nice to be able to just open a door and find an out-of-season treat in the gloomy winter days. It's just started raining again and is being a gloomy summer day here.

Arija said...

It is a fair amount of work, especially with sheep. Luckily my eldest granddaughter and fiance crutched the sheep this time. Since the rains came they all had dirty bottoms from the succulent green grass. Glad too see yours are done. Just thank the Lord fasting you have no Merino sheep or you would be living in foot-rot flats. That is one reason we have Leicesters and cross-breds. isn't farming fun?

Leilani Lee said...

Unintended consequences of reading several of your posts in a row (trying to catch up from being on vacation) is that I dreamed about chickens last night. Baby chickens. Unlike your post though, the dream was weird, but at least I didn't wake up feeling like I'd had a nightmare.

We have thickets of gooseberries everywhere. I've never done anything with them though because all of the recipes I seen require way too much sugar

jeanette from everton terrace said...

You've reminded me I need to tend to my own toes :)
I've never tasted a gooseberry!

BT said...

I've had a wonderful wander through your blog Weaver - thoroughly enjoying it of course. We picked loads of ripe raspberries today but our strawberries have been rather poor - not enough sunshine I'm afraid. Also our goosberries are small bushes so not producing a lot yet. Maybe next year. Lovely to see those horses on the farm. The sheep and cows have certainly had a good 'going over' and I'm sure they feel better for it.

Lori at Jarvis House said...

Although I like the idea of living on a farm with animals, I'll stick to tending my plants in suburbia. Thank God there are people like you and your family that are willing to handle all of the work on your farm.

Hildred and Charles said...

Grooming day on the farm. What a lot of work, but the results are so satisfying for everyone.

We have raspberries again in the new house we are moving too, and I am looking forward to jamming them again!

H said...

What a lot of back breaking work, but very satisfying to have it done!

ChrisJ said...

Farming always sounds and looks like fun -- but oh! the work. I'd love to see all the cleaned up animals. They must really feel the relief and be happier

ChrisJ said...

Farming always sounds and looks like fun -- but oh! the work. I'd love to see all the cleaned up animals. They must really feel the relief and be happier

The Weaver of Grass said...

Thanks for commenting. This business of hard work on the farm - yes it is hard work and farmers seem
to take it all in their stride. I get romantic ideas about keeping Dales ponies, rare breeds of hen etc. and I need the voice of reason (i.e. the farmer) to remind me of the work involved!