A sad start to the week with 5 lambs lost

Sadly, the week did not start well – one lamb died on Sunday and then four more were found dead on Monday morning. All this rather overshadowed our week as you can imagine; it may well be on one level a ‘business’, but for us as individuals and as a team, each loss is felt personally.

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Almost inevitably the losses were well grown lambs, who were looking fine. Obviously we had to ask the vet to carry out autopsies and the answer was clostridial linked to a heavy worm burden. This meant more urgent derogation had to be sought and so, a second drenching in the year was given, together with firm instructions to vaccinate against clostridial next year at lambing.

The opportunity was taken at drenching to take the lambs’ weights, and 56 were found to be ready to be sent to Meadow Quality (who trade only in organic meats) in the coming week. This group are now in the field by the farmhouse while the remainder, some247, are now on the re-seeded pasture.

Next week the ewes will go through the race and those ewes that are no longer fit for breeding (too old, or those who suffered badly with mastitis) will be separated and sent to market. Given the increasing size of the cattle holding on the farm, apart from holding some ewe lambs back to replace older ewes past their prime, we will allow the breeding flock to fall in numbers.

From the start we have known that the ratio of sheep to cattle is out of balance for the way in which we want to farm, but TB has to date set us back, but now we can see a chance of changing the balance. There were two crucial factors here in our decision making – the first being the mounting evidence that to maintain organic sheep in any numbers on our particular pasture and farm in the way we believe is impossible, and the second, straight forward economics.

Baachus appears to have settled in well and obviously has some ‘pulling’ power since a heifer jumped two farm gates to join him! The cow that had bloat seems to have made a good recovery and now just needs the valve in her side replaced by a plug. We have passports for all the new calves and their registration as pedigree animals has been completed we still have some five weeks to wait before we know the fate of our IR’s.

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Gemma, the expert cattle hoof trimmer in the area came in mid-week and did the necessary with five animals. She works on her own and is a very impressive individual. On this visit, one of the older cows was very uncooperative, but Tim was on hand to assist.

The puncture in the front tractor tyre was mended by Wednesday, and so the compost spreading can continue.

Anne had a really great morning on Wednesday giving a BD tutorial which was very ‘hands on’ and ended with her and Alison broadcasting 501 on all the gardens; We aim to spray 501 – the horn silica at the next opportunity as per the star calendar – just two fields need doing and we hope the weather will be kind when the opportunity arises!

We now have the date for our Demeter Inspection – the 26th of October. So for me the week was very much about accounts – the VAT claim has to go in this month and pulling papers and data together for the inspection.

Alessio and Sebastien have only another two weeks to spend with us, amazing how time rushes by. There are still plenty of useful things that they can and are doing; they have both proved themselves invaluable across all the jobs they have been asked to help with, and will be sorely missed. Sebastien has spent a lot of time on planning the gating of the barn extension, which is helpful to us, and also forms part of the thesis that he has to deliver in English to his tutors when he returns to college next month.

The Business Park was in disarray all week as massive machines dug trenches and a ‘moleing ‘ machine was brought in which has driven tunnels for pipes under units. The noise and disruption at the beginning of the week was pretty dire but so far tenants continue to be good natured. The word is that the heating will be fitted to all units, and the work completed by the end of next week.

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It was very good to hear from Wwoofer, Joachim, who was with us in the autumn last year, stayed for three months, and then went onto Warwick University to complete a two semester course. His continuing studies sound to be going well, and in passing, he shared with us an article from a national Chilean Newspaper about the practice of Wwoofing, which included a paragraph about his experience with us in England!

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