Welcome to our second newsletter; I never imagined we would have so much to report since sending the first only 3 months ago – do read on to see what we’ve been up to…
Publicity - Our major achievement has been putting together & launching our ‘South Yeo Farm Rare & Traditional Breeds’ website which can be found at: www.southyeofarm.co.uk. There are still a few minor bits that need finishing off but on the whole it is complete & we’re really pleased with how it has come together, largely thanks to a friend who has put his considerable skills to bear. Please take a look if you get the chance & let us know what you think – what is useful, what is missing, what is awkward etc.
We’ve been working hard to create links to & from other appropriate websites & it has really paid off as we have had numerous enquiries in only 5 weeks of going live & are already finding it hard to keep up. So far we’ve had 2 interested parties wanting to buy all the lambs we want to sell this year, I’ve exported a balwen lamb fleece to Canada to a chap who spins, I’ve taken orders for over 40 live birds & sent over 30 dozen hatching eggs to all corners of the UK, & even ½ doz to France. As a consequence, our 3 incubators are working full time to keep up & there is a constant cheeping & quacking from every corner of the farm!
Lambing – the last month has been exhausting to say the least, but our flock of 26 is now 44 thanks to the mostly late night arrival of 18 very pretty little lambs. We can now sleep after our vigil of checking the ewes at 2 hour intervals through day & night. We had to help several which was an interesting experience & are very grateful to our neighbour who helped at all hours… we have one lamb who is being bottle fed as mum had no milk & as a consequence he has signed himself up as ‘pet lamb’ to be taken to the Smallholders Fair at the end of May. Please do pop by if you are out this way to see them while they are still small, they really are very cute.
Chickenopolis was completed after much repetitive strain injury on literally the day it was announced bird-flu had arrived in the UK – great timing… but all the birds have settled in to their respective breeding groups & we’ve hatched some from each to ensure they are fit & fertile. We bought in 3 Ixworth hens & a cockerel from 2 different reputable sources & now have some very rare birds with excellent bloodlines. Our internet egg sales have really taken off in the last month & we have sold over £400 of eggs so the chicken will be recouping the cost of their houses & pens sooner rather than later – much to my delight as there were many ‘golden egg’ comments.
The pigs were moved outside in early April & have really made the field their home – Bess’s little ones mined their paddock completely in about 2 weeks flat while the older girls are taking their time. We put Bess in with our new young boar as he appeared keen to ‘work’ & he wasn’t shy and promptly did the necessary so there are likely to be more little ones in 4 months time. We plan to put the 2 young gilts in with the boar at 2 month intervals so that we have piglets regularly every 2 months as well; however, we suspect he may have already jumped the gun before they went out to pasture so we shall wait & see – there may be a July pig glut so clear your freezers! We have managed to pre-book all the ½ pig sides of pork from Bess’s January litter, so were pleased not to have to sell any young ones. We have kept 1½ pig back for ourselves to make sausages & bacon so if you’re interested just let us know & we can reserve you some. There is also some pork still in the freezer – see ‘Available now’ section for what’s left.
The barn conversion – Ian continues to work hard on converting one of the cob barns in the yard into our future farm office. The concrete floor has been poured and internal walls built so it is really beginning to take shape and I am having to resist the temptation to buy fittings already! – with the work moving on so quickly, we need to sell all the pork to be able to afford to put in the next floor level!... the other benefit is that Ian hasn’t had time to even think about increasing the tractor collection as he’s been so busy…
Training – this weekend we ran a successful ‘beginners poultry’ course with 12 keen attendees – I completely ran out of time & was still giving out information as they were driving off!
Conservation & Wildlife – The new pond is settling in well & I’ve managed to resist the temptation to plant it up, instead letting nature take its course & seeing what arrives naturally – other than a bucket of frog spawn which has now hatched & tadpoles can be seen wriggling from one end to the other. We also went through all the water vole pens last week to see how many had bred & to select young animals for release; interestingly there were a couple of pens that appeared to have bred throughout the winter which is most unusual as they tend to start breeding in April/May – that’s Scottish voles for you!
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