Showing category "Animals" (Show all posts)

Weaning the Class of 2012

Posted by Matthew Hargreaves on Monday, March 4, 2013, In : Animals 
We moved the calves from last spring/summer away from their mothers this last weekend - albeit only into the adjoining field. The idea is that they are more than strong enough to cope without the milk that they are still getting from the cows, which, some 7-9 months post-birth, is tailing off in quantity and quality. The mothers also need a rest, to gather strength before this year's births - not least Amy who is waddling around looking like a Thelwell cartoon and reminding us that she will p...
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In the bleak mid-winter.....

Posted by Matthew Hargreaves on Thursday, February 7, 2013, In : Animals 
... a calf is born! A heifer, born to #75 (whose Herd Book name escapes me at the time of writing, but it's either Delyth or Ceinwen). Completely out of season - all her cousins or half-siblings were born May-July 2012, but the mother hadn't come into season like the others and the vet had had to kick-start her hormones with an injection back in January 2012. But - despite the cold, wet, windy and snowy weather over the last few weeks, the mother ended up pregnant to Norman and eventually pic...
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Disappearing cowpats

Posted by Matthew Hargreaves on Thursday, December 20, 2012, In : Animals 
For months now, I've been puzzled by our cowpats. As you might imagine with 20+ head of cattle, we get a lot of the things, dotted fairly uniformly around the place, and they gradually seem to disappear. But I'd noticed that after a while of sitting there in their initial, very sloppy, "fresh" state, once dried out a bit, something appears to come along and rip holes in them. I had assumed crows, pecking at them looking for grubs or worms, until one evening when on an evening walk with the do...
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Mud, mud, inglorious mud....

Posted by Matthew Hargreaves on Thursday, December 20, 2012, In : Animals 
Once again, Somme-style mud has returned to plague the lives of all of us who spend time out in the fields. The cattle don't really seem to care that much, but the poor sheep's feet are suffering. At the weekend, we had to clip the feet of Wallace (our ram), as he was limping and a closer inspection revealing an infected foot where the hooves have gone soft yet continued growing, collecting mud between the hoof and foot and creating the ideal conditions for sore feet. I suppose something simi...
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Getting stuck into fresh haylage!

Posted by Matthew Hargreaves on Monday, December 17, 2012, In : Animals 
We delivered new haylage to the breeding herd this weekend - watching them getting stuck in (literally with their horns at times) is very funny!
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Walking the dogs - ram included!

Posted by Matthew Hargreaves on Monday, December 17, 2012, In : Animals 
Some of you might recall from earlier in the year that we bottle-fed a ram lamb after his mother rejected him (the kids called him Rambo). Once weaned, he lived for a while in the garden, but he preferred the raspberry canes to eating the lawn, and after trying repeatedly to sneak into the kitchen to "snuggle" on the sofa, we had to move him into the field at the bottom of the garden.

The unforeseen consequence of his unusual upbringing is that he doesn't think he's a sheep, and prefers the c...
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The Weather

Posted by Matthew Hargreaves on Friday, December 14, 2012, In : Animals 
Spare a thought for Hoo's Herd in this particularly inclement weather. This week featured temperatures as low as -9 degrees celsius, but worse for us has been the consecutive days when the peak temperature has remained at or below freezing.

The animals themselves don't seem to be that bothered - the sheep have the most obvious insulation, with their thick woolly coats rendering them positively cosy, but even the cattle seem to be inherently hardy. Their coats go shaggy (not quite Highland Cat...
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Poachers....?

Posted by Matthew Hargreaves on Tuesday, December 11, 2012, In : Animals 
It's never quiet in the sticks! Last night, we got a text around midnight reporting strangers with torches tramping around one of our fields. Well needless to say, I missed the action, as I slept through the text - but the next morning, upon further investigation, it appears that it wasn't rustlers but poachers, on the hunt (illegally) for local game, and were nabbed in the act by the local police, a rare success for the forces of justice! Thankfully, none of our animals was hurt, in fact, th...
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Winter draws in....

Posted by Matthew Hargreaves on Monday, December 10, 2012, In : Animals 
We've started feeding haylage to the animals. Unlike last year, when we let them fend for themselves, living off the residual grass and the fat on their backs, we found ourselves able to make haylage in the summer, all 200 5ft diameter round bales of the stuff - way more than we need this year, so plenty for sale to local horse owners or farmers.

For the uninitiated (which included myself until recently), haylage is grass that's been cut when at its peak in terms of nutritional value, left to ...
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Promotion!

Posted by Matthew Hargreaves on Tuesday, September 25, 2012, In : Animals 
We decided to promote one of our heifers from the "meat locker" to the "harem", as she's about the right age for breeding and a nice specimen. So Saturday saw us rounding her up (along with her cousins) in the Nettleden field and taking her to join her aunties (and Norman!) up in Little Gaddesden's Hoo Field. That gives us now 8 breeding cows for next season, and 2 remaining animals for slaughter over the next year until our own home-grown stock comes of age this time next year.
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Calf update

Posted by Matthew Hargreaves on Friday, June 29, 2012, In : Animals 

No more calves quite yet, but here's a couple of pictures of this year's first couple of calves - amazing how quickly they grow.


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Wallace gets a haircut

Posted by Matthew Hargreaves on Friday, June 29, 2012, In : Animals 
We finally managed to get Wallace our ram to take a haircut. After a winter and spring running wild on his own (apart from the cows) and away from his ladies, it was unsurprisingly difficult to catch him. It took a couple of hours of running and driving around the field on Sunday to wear him down enough to be able to tackle him to the ground, and after 24 hours to catch his breath, Fergus gave him a pretty neat trim and this is a picture of him glaring at us straight afterwards!
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2nd Calf of the season arrives! Our first heifer....

Posted by Matthew Hargreaves on Friday, June 29, 2012, In : Animals 
We're just thinking of a name, as this one will almost certainly be future breeding stock. Mother in this case is #72 who is either Delyth or Ceinwen (can't remember which without checking the records) and sired by Ash Michael through artificial insemination. 9 months to the day!

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Calf number 3 for Amy

Posted by Matthew Hargreaves on Tuesday, June 19, 2012, In : Animals 

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Lambs - the final 2012 tally

Posted by Matthew Hargreaves on Monday, April 23, 2012, In : Animals 
We ended up with 31 lambs from 22 ewes - less prolific than last year, but about a third of the ewes were first-timers, so to be expected we believe. All bar one are frolicking around in the field with their mums, ballooning before our very eyes. Great fun to watch.

The one that is not frolicking around is "Rambo", our abandoned ram lamb mentioned in an earlier post, who has taken up residence with us, spending his nights in the garage in a crate, and his days under an apple tree in a little p...
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Hoo's Herd expands

Posted by Matthew Hargreaves on Friday, March 16, 2012, In : Animals 
We've recently bought with friends some more land at the other end of the village, or more precisely on the edge of Nettleden - a 41 acre section of the Golden Valley and I'm convinced that the stunning scenery will make a difference to the meat quality! All our edible beef stock (or "finishers" as I think they are known in the farming business) are down there, ranging from heifer number 23, the oldest and therefore next for the table, down to the 5 born within the last 12 months. That leaves...
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