Monday, 27 September 2010

Rushing around all over the place today sorting out a few lame sheep. Then into the office to catch up on a bit of paper work before taking Jess off to her training course.

She is progressing well and today I took her out in the the bigger field and worked on her outrun.......that's the bit where you send them right out around the field to gather the sheep to start with. We started with some short 50 yard or so runs and built up slowly and finished up at about 150 yards. I just need to keep her practising at it now until it is second nature to her.

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Volunteers checking feet, and trimming the wool from the tails of some of the older swales last week. I'm not sure who had the biggest laugh (or the last!) the volunteers or the sheep. I don't think we'll be opening a beauty salon anytime soon!

Monday, 20 September 2010

This season's Hebridean and Manx Loaghtan lambs have been purchased and trained to respect an electric fence and are now on Holy Island grazing away. Time is always a bit of an issue with this site as we need to get them there and set up the fence and get off again before becoming cut off by the tide! There are another 5, which I collected this morning, to go and join them next time we move the fence. I will get some pictures of them uploaded soon.
Phew where is the time going it just seems to be flying by. It was a busy week last week with the showing of Robert Kenner's film food inc. after which I gave a short talk about Flexigraze and the shearling lamb which is produced by the project all a far cry from what we had been watching on the big screen. There was some useful feedback with one or two people expressing interest in forming buying groups for the shearling lamb, which is becoming available now.

I found the film quite a wake up call, admittedly it was based on American production but usually what happens over there follows here.......................... we have all heard about chickens a pigs being mass produced and a far cry from how we like to think animals are treated in our society but the way the huge corporate bodies have monopolised food processing is quite astounding. What i found most scary though was the way that the GM companies , one in particular, are bullying their way to controlling 100% of production. Enough said but I would encourage any one who has an interest in what they eat or who farms to to see this film for themselves.

Thursday, 16 September 2010

Jess and I started our 'Down Shep' course on Monday. So far it has been very educational, Jess has a good grasp of the basics and has the potential to become quite a good sheedog. All she needs is for me to develop the skills to bring out the best in her. (That could be the tricky part!) I definitely have a long way to go yet! So its roll on next week and in the mean time practice, practice, practice.............the sheep are going to be pretty fit by the end with all this rounding up going on!

Thursday, 9 September 2010

Wow well yesterday turned out to be rather different to the norm. Jess was invited to meet The Prince of Wales when he visited Ouseburn farm which meant I was allowed to tag along as driver and escort!
She met the prince and we had a discussion about the grazing project and what it involved. Jess took it all in her stride and coped well with all the crowds and attention she received. I am not sure how much in awe she was at meeting the prince (I think she was more absorbed with the Jacob sheep in the field behind us!) but it was fantastic to be involved with the visit. A big thank you must go to the Ouseburn Farm for hosting the prince, the farm has come a long way over the past 3 years and is a credit to all those involved with the project. It shows what hard work and dedication and can achieve.

It's back to normal next week with Jess starting the second phase of her training. She has the basics quite well but now that she is eleven months old it is time for her to step up a gear and to show how good really can be. Time will tell!

Friday, 3 September 2010

We went across this morning and moved the sheep at Whittledene from the field they have been summering in back onto the aqueduct to start and graze there.
After they had been safely installed in their new home we went along and had a look at the section where they had grazed until the end of June.
It was quite a surprise to find it in full flower and just goes to show how intensive grazing at the right time can help flowering plants overcome the competition from grasses.

3 sept 10

The same part of the aqueduct in June. This picture was taken just after the sheep were sheared in the middle of June, they were moved off the following week.

3 sept 10 Looking back towards the gate where the above picture was taken in June.

3 sept 10. Another advantage of these plants flowering now is that they are providing a nectar source when the peak flowering time is usually past.

This is a Wall Brown butterly taking advantage of the late summer sunshine.