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News archive for 2010

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15/12/2010

It was lovely seeing so many people down at the Alton Market Square on Saturday. Here are pictures of this years Christmas Scene in three of our locations in the last few days. The pigs seemed to take delight in knocking down the candles when we were in the market square! We wish all our clients and friends of Mill Cottage a very Happy Christmas and our good wishes for the New Year.

23/11/2010

[Egypt]

We are back holding the reins after our fantastic summer holiday to Egypt last week. Erin & Ben as well as Mum & Dad coped extrememly well and we didn't have to worry about anything while we were away. Despite Tom using his best haggling efforts, we didn't come back with any crocodiles or camels to join the menagerie!

However, we are delighted to let you know that we are working with Easter Wood Alpaca Stud, and just before we went away, we arranged to adopt a couple of their alpacas ready for 2011.

13/09/2010

Our sheep seem to have a thing for Monday mornings! Having been on close watch all Sunday, and setting the alarm every four hours or so through the night, Holly waited until between checks on Monday morning and produced a single ewe lamb (called Noosa - we are running out of Oz names that are easy to spell/say) at 3.45am! We weren't sure if she was having a second one or not and she certainly wasn't appreciating our presence in the barn, so we ended up going back to the house, making a 4.30am cuppa and watching her like a hawk via the webcam. Don't think Fiona the sheep will be long now...

07/09/2010

We visited the Alresford Show on Saturday for a bit of inspiration. As it would be too difficult for us to attend with animals due to DEFRA regulations (we would be shut down for too long), we decided to try our hand at the craft and food tent instead. Whilst the Victoria Sandwich (with home grown/made raspberry jam & eggs) did not get rated, nor did the photographs of Holybourne Church and Florence the lamb, we had better fortunes with the craft.

Our cross-stitch achieved a 3rd Place - this cross-stitch kit was given by Sarah's Mum before we ever dreamt of having animals. It eventually got finished soon after moving to our smallholding.

We also entered the "Something New from Something Old" category with an "Old MCFE t-shirt turned into a hanging baby toy" and gained 1st Place! The finished product will be enjoyed by Sarah's nephew now its showing season is over.

After all that excitement, it was time to tour the livestock tents. I wonder if we should add alpacas or water buffalo to our menagerie? We then enjoyed watching some of Sarah's pupils from her full time teaching days in the show jumping - it's always interesting when you get "Hello Mrs Main!" shouted in public from atop a horse! Ah well, they all looked like they were having fun.

Thank you to everyone who came up and said "Hi" - great to catch up with friends old (not necessarily in age!) and new.

Back home, Caroline gave birth to two ewe lambs, Kimberley and Coral, at 7am on Monday. All doing well. Caroline is now busy eating straw in the barn with the lambs at her feet!

We then looked into the hutches and discovered a new guinea pig happily running around... we think we have guessed the correct mother!

13/08/2010

Well, the barn is just about there: from Field Shelter to Barn in ten easy steps... or something like that. The improvement is immense! It was completed just in time for us to celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary with lots of family & friends joining us for a BBQ, Bouncy Castle and Barn Dance. "Also Known As" provided traditional folk song accompaniment in order to get feet tapping and dancers "do-si-do"-ing at the right time. Great fun was had by all.

On Thursday 12th August, we were in Kingston Town Centre for their "Thumbs Up its Thursday" event. We were kept busy all afternoon showing youngsters (and their parents!) our animals. We were fortunate that Christina, our very own spinner and weaver was able to make the date to demonstrate her skills. She always seemed to have crowds around her asking her questions and even allowed the children to have their own attempt at wool craft. Even the mayor came along to join in the fun.

04/08/2010

For the third year running, we helped Basingstoke celebrate National Play Day in Eastrop Park. Despite the interesting weather, a good day was had by all. As Tom and Sarah were celebrating their tenth wedding anniversary, they had an official photo taken; it wouldn't have been complete without the animals of course - the goats even tried to come between them!

Once again, we were joined by the MCFE Spinner & Weaver extraordinaire - Christina (and chauffeur, Rob!) - who delighted the crowds with her homemade MCFE wool products. We are trying to persuade her that Aldershot Town Centre at the end of the month will complete her summer tour!

27/07/2010

Having brought Stephen home on Saturday morning, able to walk a few teetering steps before having to rest, he was obviously very much better yesterday. I got home to find he had broken his way out of his pen in the barn and was sitting down by the gate, quietly chewing the cud wondering what all the fuss was about. If he could have opened the padlock, crossed the road and negotiated the kissing gate, I think he would have done! Although we are bringing him back at night, with Georgina for company, he is now spending days out in the field with the others while he gains strength. Unbelievable!

24/07/2010

Stephen got back this morning from the vet's having had "gold plated" 5* service (Tom's words!) over the past 24 hours. He had had to go back in on Friday morning as he was in a poor way, couldn't get on to his feet at all and wasn't interested in eating anything. He spent 24 hours on a drip and had lots of specialist TLC. I had a phonecall this morning to say he was well enough to return home. He was so much better, he was like a different goat! He is now tucking in hungrily into anything offered to him - apple leaves, beech leaves, willow leaves, hawthorn leaves...!

21/07/2010

Another day, another visit, this time ending up with a visit to the vet! We are so grateful to our local vet (Cedar Vets in Alton) who have been on the end of the phone on numerous occasions and from time to time get called on at short notice to perform all sorts of interesting tasks. I'm sure they think we are mad! At least today's was during office hours, not 11.30pm at the weekend!

Anyway, today was another day in the life of MCFE and we were visiting Bordon Garrison Preschool and Nursery - nothing unusual about this. As usual, when entering a venue, I check around for the sorts of plants that are around which (a) may damage our animals because they are poisonous or (b) our animals may damage because they like to eat prized displays of flowers, fruit and vegetables!

However, half way through the booking, it was clear that the smallest goat (Jerry) was not feeling A1. He was showing classic symptoms of having eaten something poisonous. I did some quick thinking to plan the way forward and whilst doing so, Jerry's twin brother, James also started showing similar signs. Before long all three goats were clearly unwell so I decided to do an emergency dash to Cedar Vets.

The plan was simple - if only the goats had read the book. Jerry & James received their treatment in a calm (ish!) manner, but Stephen was having none of it. To cut a long story short, before receiving any actual treatment, he had managed to twist himself in such a fashion that the plastic stomach tube snapped inside his oesophagus. Despite some throat massaging the tube was firmly wedged.

Jerry & James returned home to the barn for some R&R while Stephen was left at the vet's. Eventually, after some xrays, anaesthetic, and internal probing, a 26cm piece of plastic stomach tubing was removed from the entrance to Stephen's rumen! Stephen was treated for the original poisoning problem and he has now returned home to recover in the barn with Jerry & James.

All in a days work! Thank you to Caroline & the team for all they have done - hopefully all three goats will make a full recovery over the next few days.

14/07/2010

River is our newest arrival - a gorgeous black rabbit. She was born in March and is enjoying visits out with our animals. She shares a hutch with Sable, who is our oldest rabbit. Bunny was given to us as an unwanted pet and he will be used as one of our breeding boys eventually. He is a little jumpy at present and needs lots of TLC before he will be ready to come out on visits.

We have been following the Northmead, Shere and Shirley chicks from when they hatched mid-March. Just in time for the end of term, I can report that they have a new outside run, along with a few other chicks from schools who have hatched them out using our incubators over the past few weeks, including Wootey Junior School. They are loving the freedom (within the electric fence) and are busy "de-weeding" the area. With them is a Cayuga duckling (Ducky 1) who is the only surviving duckling to hatch out this year. Ducky 1 has been a hit in Alton Town Centre over the past couple of months. Born on Spring Festival Day (8th May), she was looking fluffy in the Public Gardens for the Treloars Trust/Alton Lions "Good Old Days" event on 12th June, and was also at the Alton Food Festival on 10th July, fully feathered. In two months she has become a very beautiful duck!

Talking of the Food Festival, it was lovely to be a part of such a big Alton Event. We had our animals on display as well as some of our educational activities which link food and farming which were enjoyed by young and old alike. We were so busy outside the Assembly Rooms, we didn't have time to wander down the whole High Street and into the Market Square to explore the Foodie Delights as we would have liked to!

Yesterday (Tuesday) we enjoyed visiting Alton Community Centre, despite the showers, and shared our animals with the playgroup which meets there as well as the Day Care group for older Alton residents. Proving that we are here for all, the Stephen, James & Jerry had their picture taken with a member of Alton Community Centre staff and, not to be outdone, Marmite & Bovril the piglets and Chester our dog met the local PCSO - all in the line of duty, I am sure!

We love meeting people - so do our animals - and interaction is our thing. Thank you for all the wonderful conversations I have had over the last few days, from discussing the personalities of different breeds of pigs, to remembering the animals that families kept in the war. We are so glad so many people get so much pleasure from meeting our animals!

03/07/2010

On Friday, we were once again delighted to take along our birds to share with some children from nearby schools while they awaited the judging of their presentations at Froyle Park showground which was being prepared for the Alton Show. Unfortunately, as the actual show is on a Sunday, we do not take part as Sunday is our day off. However, it was lovely to get a feel of the event and enthuse the generation of the future for all things countryside related. The children had visited a real working farm during the term and they chatted about their experiences whilst cuddling a chicken, duck and even a turkey chick! See the photos here.

We have had another of those "odd requests"... but we like something a bit different! On Friday evening, we visited four couples who were each taking turns to provide the others with an activity none of them had done before. I guess Goat Milking isn't on everyone's top ten... We successfully managed to coach all eight guests in milking Gemma our nanny goat, they met her kids, learnt how to make cheese and enjoyed tasting some local goats cheeses. A great evening was had by all, as the photos show!

Grateful thanks to the good guys down at Vector Aerospace, Gosport on Saturday. They were quietly enjoying their family fun day when they were called on to rescue a damsel in distress... or rather me & my trailer! I am sure the comments about having three firemen changing the wheel on the trailer will go down in the MCFE folklore, but for now, I am just really pleased they helped me out - thanks chaps!

16/06/2010

We have read with interest the recent report by Professor Griffin on the outbreak of E-coli 0157 which occurred at Godstone Farm in August and September 2009.

We are pleased that Prof Griffin did not advise an outright ban on contact with animals as this type of contact is an invaluable educational experience for all ages. Thousands of children live on and visit farms and the countryside every year and suffer no ill effects.

There is a risk attached to every activity, however it is important to minimise that risk. It is impossible for life to be completely risk free. The report focussed on adult responsibility in ensuring good hand washing procedures. It also focussed on farms ensuring that there is no public contact with animal faeces so that there is minimal risk of infection.

We do believe that the public will need to be educated regarding hand washing. There is no substitute for good hand washing procedures and hand gels are only effective after running water and soap have been used.

As a mobile educational farm, the risks are slightly different from an Open Farm as faeces do not accumulate in one area for a prolonged period. At MCFE, we pride ourselves in ensuring that all faecal matter is removed from the pen as soon as it appears - sometimes it does not even touch the ground! We can also provide mobile hand washing units to ensure adequate hand washing facilities are always available.

We look forward to continuing to provide an excellent experience which is safe, fun and educational.

25/05/2010

We were delighted to help Sharon & David celebrate their very relaxed wedding. They asked us to bring the animals along as a surprise for their guests. Secretly, the animals were definitely for them I think! We wish them every happiness as they begin their married life together.

Also, we got back from a couple of days' holiday to find that not only had some of our animals decided to go walkabout (hence one of our friends now being nicknamed "Little Bo Peep") but also that flystrike had hit again. We seem to have caught it early, but we have spent many hours since we got back on Friday shearing all our sheep.

Our Barn Build project (or Field Shelter Replacement) is coming on in leaps and bounds, and has proved to be a hit with our goat kids...

22/04/2010

Yesterday we helped Harry Futcher celebrate his 106th birthday with a birthday party complete with the farm! We arrived home to a quiet evening. Or so we thought. Charity had other ideas and spent the whole evening popping out piglets. We thought she'd finished after number four, but clearly she hadn't. At 9 (NINE!) I came back to the computer to get some work done, leaving Tom on maternity ward duty. Tom thought he was so tired he was seeing things - eventually there were ten piglets!

Don't think it is a record, but is certainly unusual compared with other Kune-kune litters!

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20/04/2010

Apologies for the large update - our webmaster went on holiday for a week, a sure sign for lots of things to happen!

Just to make sure we are in step with the world around us, we have received our first problem with a farm booking due to volcanic ash! When we set up MCFE, we had envisaged many of the problems and challenges which have faced us, but, in peaceful Hampshire, volcano eruptions were not one of them. Sigh... short of shipping animals out to Lanzarote, where the birthday girl is stranded, I think a postponement is all we can offer!

Molly kept us waiting, but finally produced her single ewe lamb at lunchtime on Friday 15th April - nearly four weeks after the last lambing. All is well and they have mothered up well. No doubt she will soon catch up with the other lambs as she will not have to share any of her mother's milk! Lambing is now over until the end of August, when our second flock will (hopefully) produce their lambs. George is with his ladies at present.

On Sunday 18th April, Faith produced her litter of piglets - five tiny squealers: three sow piglets and two boar piglets. We are awaiting Charity's contribution.

We also have some duck eggs in the incubator, due to hatch in a couple of weeks.

We always love it when clients overcome their fears. Here's a picture of one of our clients, who told us he was petrified of dogs. After his first visit to one of our events, he overcame that fear with Chester. He is part of our "Fan Club" now and has visited our events three times, each time becoming more brave!

The Northmead, Shere & Shirley Chicks have been moved off the heat lamp and are now roaming around a large shed with lots of straw. They will stay here until they have grown their adult feathers and are big enough to stand up for themselves with the adult poultry. We still don't know for certain which are boys and which are girls.

Thanks to the KATS dog agility team who performed so well on Easter Monday, and who then allowed us to see if the pigs, with no training at all, could attempt some of the agility trials. I have to say, we were amazed at the porcine response. I am afraid we had our hands full ensuring the safety of the piglets, but Colin Fisher from KATS Dog Training and Martin Saban Smith took some fantastic photos!

We have been given two new female rabbits as the owners could no longer look after them. They are getting on with our female rabbits when we put them in the outside run together, although they have their own night hutch. We hope they will soon come out on visits with MCFE! We are looking for names for both of them...

Over the past few months, we have been developing our Food & Farming Workshops, and now have a whole day of activities ready to be enjoyed. We are hoping to hold a Children's Food & Farming Workshop over the summer holiday in our local area (Alton) - watch this space as to how to book your child a place on what promises to be a fun packed day!

Teachers! With the new Primary Curriculum about to be rolled out, MCFE already has the planning up to date - in fact, we are just making the final tweaks to a whole six week unit planned around the theme of Farm to Fork - again, watch this space!

05/04/2010

Despite the forecast of rain, wind and snow, Easter Monday 2010 dawned bright and clear. And of course, Easter Monday means MCFE's Annual Open Day. This year we tried out a new venue, Andrews Endowed School, who are collected for a new classroom.

All the usual shows were there, from animals to bouncy castle to the ever-popular Soup-in-a-Bun (or Soup-out-of-a-Bun if, like your reporter, you were unfortunate enough to arrive after the crusty buns had run out!). There were also lots of new shows, including the KATS Dog Agility team, a Rodeo Sheep, vintage implements & costumes, a huge tractor, welly wanging and Dial-a-Dog-Wash.

However, as always, the most popular displays were the animals, with people queuing up to hold three-day-old chicks, kids, and bottle feed lambs.

1167 people came through the gates, up from 700 at last year's Open Day, and a grand total of £1154.77 was raised for Andrews Endowed School's Classroom Fund!

Others who contributed to the day were Hawk & Ferret, Spinning & Weaving, Make Do & Mend, Susan Griffiths Jewellery, Make & Take Craft, Phoenix Cards, Greening Alton, Farm & Country Supplies, Spring Cottage Poultry, Face painting, Glitter Tattoos & Hair Braiding, and Holybourne Village Archives. MCFE would like to thank everyone who came and helped make it such a success. Just look at the pictures!

26/03/2010

We collected the chicks from Northmead, Shere & Shirley schools on Wednesday - twelve healthy chicks, well done! They are going on their first trip today with the farm, to meet some preschool children in Southampton. The chicks have more room to move around now, although they still have the infra-red heat lamp to keep them warm. There is enough space in the pen for them to get away from it if they get too hot. Their pen is covered with wire mesh to stop any would-be Houdinis! There is a picture and a movie for you to see them now.

They will stay in here for the next three weeks, until they are off the heat lamp, then they will be moved to a larger shed with thick straw on the floor, until they have grown their adult feathers and can survive being outside all the time - remember they can't keep warm under their mum's wings which is what would happen if a hen had sat on the eggs to hatch them out. Finally, they will be moved outside, probably during May, joining our large outdoor run. If you look in the 2009 gallery, it is the run named "Frozen Turkey" (taken during the cold snap!)

Any questions about chicks & hatching, just let us know!

22/03/2010

Florence surprised us on Saturday, half an hour after I had done the rounds and there was nothing going on, she decided to pop out one ram lamb. A few minutes later another head appeared - and I was glad I had another pair of hands to help me separate ewe from lamb! Our webmaster happened to have been down sorting out the logistics for a webcam (exciting eh?) and had to be drafted in to help with the birth. We didn't catch it on the webcam (fortunately? unfortunately?) but she does have two very large ram lambs called Geelong and Macdonald. Ten ewes down, two to go!

19/03/2010

Our alarm went off every two hours last night as Gemma was showing signs of kidding. She was obviously trying to get away with us not noticing because she waited until 10am to produce two beautiful male goat kids. Both look strong and healthy and are a fairly even size. There's a cute clip of Gemma cleaning them up on our movies page!

So we really are getting to the end of the alarm going at silly-o-clock! We have 16 lambs (I think technical farmerspeak talks about a lambing percentage of 200% which is pretty good) and three goat kids. Only three ewes to go, but they may (or may not!) be some time...

We have just had another meeting with Mary from the fundraising committee at Andrews Endowed School about our Open Day on Easter Monday. I am so excited about it; there is still lots to do, but everything is falling into place. If only we had held the meeting up in the goat shed rather than in our lounge, we could have all witnessed the arrivals of what I am sure will be the stars of the show on Easter Monday!

18/03/2010

The first of our "Hatch Your Own Chicks" kits have started hatching their chicks! Northmead Junior School in Guildford have already watched five chicks hatch, and more could be on the way. What a fantastic way of watching the development of a chick inside the egg, from the first day of incubation right through until the chicks are a week old! They will then return to the farm as "show chicks", going out on visits with MCFE. Northmead even have a webcam so we have been able to keep an eye on things!

We currently have six incubators out on hire and we hope the others all have the same success.

And over on LambWatch, Helen had to be helped to deliver two huge ewe lambs, Victoria and Kimberley. They are as big as the week old lambs we have... ouch!

The bottle fed lambs have enjoyed a visit out today to some local sheltered accommodation. Sarah had been asked to give a talk to a group of Ladies, and what better subject at this time of year than Lambs? Darwin, Uluru and Monkeymia behaved impeccably throughout - and the Ladies loved helping to feed the lambs at the end. I am surprised I was allowed to get away with all three of them at the end as I think one or two of the Ladies were hoping to be able to pop one in their handbag to take home! Have a look at the pictures!

These lambs have now been returned to their mothers in the field. Their mothers recognise them straight away, even though they are not feeding them at all. The lambs running around the field is a beautiful sight!

17/03/2010

More lamb news... She kept us guessing, but eventually Bluebell could hold on no longer. She gave birth yesterday evening to twin ewe lambs - Tasmania & Cairns. Then, in the early hours of the morning, Tom helped deliver Mitchell & Bunderberg.

15/03/2010

Thank you all for your thoughts last night.

We had Joseph in a box on the landing all night, and got up every couple of hours to try to encourage him to suck on the bottle/stomach tube him. Sadly, he just got weaker, and by 6am, we knew the chances of survival were slim. By 7am he had gone. Very frustrating, but we feel there was something very under developed about his lungs - not much we can do about that, eh?

Tom was off with our work experience student and the animals today at a birthday party. I decided I had to catch up on the food shopping, then got a phonecall from a neighbour to say another of our sheep were lambing. It's so good our neighbours keep an eye on things without being asked! I got home to one ram lamb - Fraser, and then after about 45mins, Monkeymia (female) arrived too. The name had been suggested to us and even I had to look that one up on our map of Oz!

The emotional rollercoaster continues...

12/03/2010

The nights are getting shorter!

Last night I was up and wandering the fields until 1am, bottle feeding Darwin & Uluru every 3 hours as Amanda the sheep has no milk. Tom had gone to bed early as he had hit the wall. I whiled away the hours watching Lambing Live hoping to pick up some hints. Nothing happening, so I went to bed. Tom got up at 3:30am, by which time Elderflower had given birth to her two lambs - Byron & Sarina - both well.

We were both up again at 6am as we had a school visit with the farm over in Basingstoke. Thank goodness we have a work experience student with us at the moment as I ended up going over to the school with him, leaving Tom to keep a beady eye on Gilly the goat as she had gone into labour. After all the worrying about using baby monitors, she allowed Tom to visit her every 20-30minutes and eventually she gave birth to Jacob (named after our work experience student). Whilst licking him off, she coughed and out shot a bundle of flailing limbs - Joseph had entered the world. The size difference between the two goat kids is incredible and Joseph is severely under developed. He has been stomach tubed every couple of hours since 10:30am as he is too weak to have a sucking reflex. He is getting stronger by the hour, but he will stay with us in the house for now. Think I may have got a little attached to him already... oops!!

Meanwhile, we are bracing ourselves for an interesting few days. We will be sleeping whenever we can snatch a couple of hours...

11/03/2010

Lambing is well under way with more arriving as we write. Things didn't start so well and we lost the first two to the bitter cold wind - they had arrived early, the mother was new and had no milk and unfortunately we hadn't thought any of the ewes looked ready to give birth so didn't set the alarm during the night. Since then, all of them seem to be waddling around, so the alarm is set every three hours to check on the expectant mothers and also the new born lambs.

We now have Alice (F), Adelaide (F), Melbourne (F), Sydney (M), Darwin (M) & Uluru (M). No prizes for guessing the theme this year - if only it was as warm as it is Down Under at the moment! All the lambs are currently being fed by their mothers, but we may have to take one of the triplets away to bottle feed, depending on whether the mother can keep up with feeding three hungry mouths! The goat kids are also due over the next week so it will be a busy time down here.

A friend was with us one evening watching some of the lambs arrive. She said she had not appreciated that when we say we are lambing, how much time it involved, or how many decisions have to be made on the spot about what the best course of action is for each lamb & mother. Get it wrong and you could lose the lamb and/or the mother. Has the mother been straining too long? Should we intervene? I can see the nose and one hoof, but where is the other front hoof? And once they are born - to bring them in from the field or leave them alone? To let a mother try and feed all three or take one away? If you take one away, which one? Have they all suckled? If not, do you spend the next hour perched in the barn beside the mother trying to get her to stand still while you latch the lamb onto the teat, or do you stomach tube them? Is the stomach tube in the right place - has it gone down into the lungs by accident? ...etc etc etc... Who needs Lambing Live (BBC2)?!

We are also finalising plans for Open Day 2010 - Easter Monday at Andrews Endowed. There promises to be something for everyone and we hope to raise lots of money for the School Development Fund for the new classrooms.

10/03/2010

Darwin & Uluru (both male) were born this evening. This ewe usually has triplets so we are waiting to see if there are any more, but these two are huge so may be the only ones!

09/03/2010

Lambing has begun again! Despite a wobbly start last Thursday, things have got better since. One of our new ewes gave birth to twins in the early hours on Thursday 4th March on an extremely cold, windy night. The mother didn't seem to have much of a clue and certainly didn't have much milk. From our point of view, we hadn't anticipated any lambs to arrive early. We had checked the ewes at midnight (nothing happening) but by 6.30am, we had two dead lambs :(

However, on the evening of Friday 5th March, Polly (another new ewe), gave birth to a single ewe lamb called Alice. Both are doing really well - see the pictures!

Since Thursday, our alarm has been set for every three hours throughout the night, and we have either been keeping an eye open ourselves during the day or recruited volunteers to do so on our behalf, but so far no more lambs. Our work experience student is desperate for some of the lambs to arrive during the day - and, to be fair, so are we! We will keep you posted...

LATE NEWS... Heather gave birth to Sydney (male), Adelaide & Melbourne (both female) this evening!

01/03/2010

We are in Country Smallholding Magazine again! The magazine has a new short series of articles on starting out in smallholding. For the March issue, out now, Tom talks about finding a property and financial planning.

22/01/2010

[Abraham the Poll Dorset ram in happier days]

We have just got back from taking Abraham to the vet. He had lost condition and today he started fitting too. Unfortunately there was nothing more the vet could do for him and so we had him put down. He was about seven years old, so not young in sheep terms, and had been with us for 4.5 years.

The end of an era - what a characted he was! His last lot of lambs should be born in March.

18/01/2010

Today we took one of our turkey stags to a new home. He had escaped Christmas by the skin of his... beak! Thanks to the snow, the people who had put a deposit down on him for Christmas couldn't get down to us to collect him, so he remained running free here at Mill Cottage. With their permission, we have donated him to Heathrow Special Needs Farm in order to give their female turkey a bit of company. He has been called Boris!

We used the opportunity to catch up with two of our piglets from our January 2009 litter which went to Heathrow in the spring of 2009 - they are now named Marge & Homer!

Have a look at the pictures.

14/01/2010

[Snow geese]

Where do we start?! We left you in December with a goodbye from the turkeys. Some did get away... here's a picture of the geese and the turkeys that escaped the table!

People have been asking how we are getting on with the animals in the snow, and we touched by your concern. Everything is ok down here and nothing has succumbed (yet), although the feeding etc takes longer as we are shifting hay around the village and having to crack the ice and fill water troughs using buckets from the house. We have had to bring back the three ewes from the other end of the village which lambed in August as they had not put on much condition after their lambs were weaned and therefore were struggling in the current cold. They are now housed in the field shelter and are being fed concentrate. More expense, but hopefully they will survive the Big Chill.

[Snow Chester]

The piglets at first refused point blank to go out in the snow - mind you, it was as deep as they were high! We have made them some paths to walk in and so they are now getting out and about a bit more. Chester has been bemused to find his double appear in the garden...

Although we have had a few cancellations and postponements with MCFE, we have been able to put the towing cars to good use with trips for friends and neighbours to foodstores, doctors, hospitals & the collection of some gap year students arriving on Wednesday morning at Heathrow from Down Under! The snow must have been a shock to the system!

In February, we are running a selection of courses. We'd love to see you!

08/01/2010

Just for starters for 2010 you might like to have a look at some pictures and movies of our animals enjoying the snow!