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[singlepic id=36 w=200 h=120 float=right]We laid the last of the road planings on the drive to complete the entrance into the campsite. Unfortunately we had some frost damage inside the cabin over the hard winter but that has now been repaired. We have nearly finished painting the inside and hope to paint the outside sometime this season.

[singlepic id=37 w=200 h=120 float=left]The most exciting event on the farm during the last few months was the birth of a quad of lambs which is quite rare, so much so they made an appearance in the local paper! We had some sheep lamb in January but the majority of them have lambed in the last month and it has been extremely hectic with quite a few triplets and twins arriving at all times of the day and night.

 

[singlepic id=39 w=200 h=120 float=right] [singlepic id=40 w=200 h=120 float=right] Some of the cattle were sold in February but first they had to be TB tested which meant two visits from the vet. Fortunately they all passed without any lumps.

 

[singlepic id=41 w=200 h=120 float=left]Young apple trees need to be planted out in the orchard by the end of February. In the past I have grafted cuttings (scions) from older trees onto root stocks in order to keep the varieties going. I grew them in the garden for the first few years until they were established and then moved them out into the orchard when they were ready. They need to be fenced to avoid sheep and deer nibbling them.

 

[singlepic id=47 w=200 h=120 float=right] [singlepic id=44 w=200 h=120 float=right]Any hedge cutting around the farm has to be completed by the end of February by law to make sure that bird nesting is not disturbed. The hedge shown is difficult for the tractor and flail cutter to reach so it was done by a garden hedge trimmer. The cuttings have to be cleared away before they get grown in.

 

[singlepic id=38 w=200 h=120 float=right] We used to have a lot of elm trees around the farm, but they, as all other elm trees, have been victim to Dutch Elm Disease. This is caused by the elm bark beetle that attacks the young trees when they are approximately 25 ft high. We leave the dead trees standing as long as they create no danger, to encourage wild life to live on them, but eventually they fall over and have to be cut up and used in the Rayburn.

[singlepic id=48 w=200 h=120 float=left]The cottage garden has been cleared of weeds and rotavated ready for planting. As usual I hope to plant onions, beans and pumpkins for chutney in the autumn, and sweet peas and sunflowers for cut flower sales in the summer. The dahlias will be brought out of hibernation from the spare bedroom, and the chrysants in their pots, will be moved out of the greenhouse and polytunnel into the garden.

[singlepic id=45 w=200 h=120 float=right]We are lucky enough to have an ancient sheepwash on the farm which dates back several hundred years. Farmers used to fill up the sheepwash by allowing the water to bay up by a system of hatches along a long ditch which had been specially dug out for the purpose. [singlepic id=46 w=200 h=120 float=left]We still have the base of the last hatch . When the sheepwash was full to the brim the sheep were put into it. The purpose of this “dunking” was to wash the sheep and to bring up the “knap” in the wool to facilitate easier hand shearing (after the sheep had dried off). When the washing was completed the hatch at the end of the sheepwash was lifted to allow the gallons of water to escape to the nearby river. No chemicals were involved in this process.

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