Saturday, May 27, 2017

Minnie and Elf Move On

One of the saddest things to happen at Nunnery Farm to date is the story I am about to tell and it was the main reason for the blog stopping. I just couldn't bring myself to write anymore. I tried last year to get writing but my heart wasn't in it. I wrote one post but it wasn't the same. The truth was that love and passion I had for Nunnery Farm was overshadowed by a sadness too big to put into words.

 It was the day before Christmas Eve and as usual Minnie and Elf had jumped the walls and gone for a stroll! This was nothing new and although the walls and fences were constantly being built higher Minnie still got out! Despite her huge size, she was the most gentle of dogs and to date I am yet to meet one with a more beautiful nature and because of this and the fact that she escaped on a regular basis Minnie was well know and seeing her strolling up and down the valley was nothing out of the ordinary. She was known by everyone and was quite the local celebrity never having put a paw wrong until this particular day.

Elf and Minnie had become best friends and were never far apart which meant that when Minnie jumped the walls her sidekick would be right by her side.  Elf was unlike any Bernese I have known, she searched for trouble as though her life depended on it and more often than not she found it.

The phone rang early on 23rd December. The call was letting me know that my dogs were out by themselves the previous day and she had been told that they had been seen in the field with her sheep. Although she didn't actually see Elf or Minnie, the fact that someone had mentioned their names meant that whether or not they were responsible, they were about to be blamed for the death of a number of her young sheep. I was shocked and still to this day do not believe Minnie was capable of hurting anything. We had our own sheep and Minnie had played surrogate mum to many of our lambs and even baby chicks and Drainpipe the duckling shared her bed. Elf on the other hand may have played a part in it and after apologising profusely I offered to pay for all the losses.

Sadly this wasn't the end.  It became clear very quickly that Minnie and Elf were marked dogs!

They could no longer stay here at Nunnery Farm. So although it broke my heart they went, secretly one morning to a place far, far away. 
Walking away from them at the secret location was one of the hardest things I haven ever done. I said bye and walked without looking back.

I miss them so much and wish for them back so often but I know they can never return.

Minnie and Elf are in lovely homes in a beautiful SECRET location and are very happy, very spoilt and loved very much.

It has taken me over 2 years to come to terms with this but I think at last, I have and the Blog is Back!

*Since writing this post Minnie passed away. She had a wonderful life.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Drainpipe Has Died

I really do not know what to say. I went out to let everyone out yesterday and all was well at the Farm. An hour later in pouring rain I went out to check the birds simply because it was raining so hard and I wanted to know they were all ok. My hens do not like the rain one bit!! I found all my feathery friends huddled together in one large group which immediately rang alarm bells .... I had a feeling we had been visited by a fox.

Above all other clucks and hisses and cock-a-doodle-dos, I have always been able to hear Drainpipe - his 'tweet-tweet' sound that was his alone rang out above all other sounds and by simply listening I knew exactly where he was. I couldn't hear him and inside I cried.

I have always tried my hardest not to get too attached but I suppose it is in my make-up. Some people can ignore things and live without a care in the world, others like me dwell on things and have to save every living creature they ever come across in distress. I just think that when something has tried as hard to live as you have to save it then Nature deals a pretty cruel hand when She takes something away after all that.

I found him, so at least I had closure.

I will really miss him, that's all I have to say today

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Rabbit Release ... Farewell Little Friend!

I did not expect to see the little rabbit alive this morning! I had a look at him and although he had some obvious problems with his back legs I couldn't see any other injuries.  I would guess this guy was no more than 5 weeks old and was no more than 3 inches long. Having no previous rabbit rescue experience I wasn't sure what such a small rabbit would eat so I prepared a selection of tasty treats for  him hoping he would start to eat and drink, I thought the shock of the experience would kill him but he's obviously made of stronger stuff!

He couldn't stay in the small box but as I'm against any form of cages for animals I was struggling to come up with a suitable solution which was made more difficult with the dogs. While I thought what to do I made him a temporary house in a bigger box with the stuffing from an old pillow for a bed and straw and hay he could use to burrow in. I also thought he would like some grass so I dug up a patch of grass and put that in too!

Within a couple of days he was completely recovered and going from strength to strength and although his legs are not 100% he is doing great. The fact he was a wild animal was there for all to see and although he was lovely to cuddle and hold he did not belong with me. He was able to run and hop a couple of days later and as the sun started to shine and the weather improved I knew his permanent place was back in the great outdoors.

I decided the dogs would have to be kept inside for a day while the little bunny made his escape! I have become quite attached to him but the time was right and I cannot describe the lovely feeling I got when I said Farewell to him, put him in a quiet part of the field with lots of hiding places and watched as he turned and went back home.


Thursday, March 6, 2014

A Midnight Rescue .... We're Back!!

It should have been a straight forward simple task, locking up and going to bed but it wasn't. Just before midnight I remembered Bean was still outside so I shouted her and waited for her to come back. Not long afterwards she scratched on the door to come in and that's when it started. I opened the door and there she stood looking extremely pleased with herself and barged past me into the kitchen. For a split second I thought she had a teddy in her mouth, I could just see two little white furry legs hanging down but then I realised it was a baby rabbit and despite it being clamped tightly in her mouth, the poor thing was still alive.

As soon as I took a step towards her she took 4 steps back. I took another step, she took 4 more. Great, she thinks it's a game!! I shouted for her to drop it like a lunatic which did nothing!  I told her calmly to drop it which also failed to work! By now I was close enough to see it's back legs kicking at one side of her mouth and two tiny black eyes and little nostrils flaring at the other side. I was petrified that she would crunch it there and then because I knew Bean was not going to give up this tasty snack by choice. I ran at her and with her tail wagging she turned and ran. 

Shrieking 'Bean, drop it' like a lunatic I set off after her round the kitchen then outside which was pitch black and pouring down in my pyjamas and slippers that helpfully slipped off my feet every other step I took - enough was enough and I lunged at her to grab her tail as she turned and wrestled the 10 stone lump to the ground and eventually got the rabbit from her mouth!

It didn't look good and I grabbed a towel wrapped it up and put it in a box with a heat pad underneath. Shut the door and finally went to bed.

If I'm honest, I can't see it being alive in the morning.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Twins On Mother's Day ..... At Last More Lambs!

The Mother's Day Twins
Well it's 00.38 according to this phone I'm typing tonight's blog on and I'm in the stable once again keeping an eye on the sheep that I am convinced are about to lamb. I wouldnt expect any activity just yet though as I've been convinced one girl has been about to lamb for the past 8 days! I have religiously sat with them in the dark with my torch waiting patiently expecting a new arrival but have returned to bed freezing cold in the early hours with nothing to tell apart from frostbite! And tonight seems to be no different. I think Its becoming an obsession! I have now upped my game and have decided that the floor is no place for lamb  watching and have pulled Kyle's old buggy out of storage and as I type sat in it I feel it was quite a good idea! I just hope noone catches me huddled in said pushchair as it may look more than strange to the normal eye! I sit for 3 hours but decide nothing is going to happen tonight!

So it's another night back in the stable, maybe more lambs tonight! It's 11.30 and I've just come in to see if any of the girls have taken themselves away from the flock to find a bit of peace and quiet which is a sign they are about to lamb and I've found 2 in here. The one I've been watching for over a week now and another girl who I sensed was not too far off lambing. I have given them some hay which they have both eaten and now they have found corners in the shed and are lying down panting - I've begun to learn this doesn't mean anything is about to happen straight away!!

I'm sitting comfortably in the buggy again and am waiting patiently. I'll stay till about 3am and then make a decision as to whether my bed is the best option! I think both of the sheep in here with me tonight are having twins because of pure size but not opting to scan for pregnancy means I can never be 100% sure. The twins born 2 weeks ago will need their tails docked tomorrow and I will need to castrate the boy which is a sad realisation that he will not live out his days here at Nunnery Farm but will instead be for meat. Anywau, enough for tonight - once again I see no signs of any lambs so I am off to bed!

It's Mother's Day today and I've decided to check how things are with the sheep. I need and to dock the tails of the twins. I decided I wouldn't castrate the boy on the same day as I docked his tail due to limiting the stress so once his tail has settld down I will castrate him. I set off down the field to do my job and check all was well when I found Ivy in labour at the bottom of the field. The front hooves of a lamb were already visible. She did extremely well and after a short time gave birth to a beautifully marked boy! She cleaned him up and then walked away so I was pretty sure another was on its way. I was right because she then gave birth to another boy. He is pure white.

Ivy is doing well, she has cleaned both boys and they are currently down at the bottom of the field having a rest in the sunshine. They are both feeding and so as far as I am concerned there shouldn't be any problems with them!

Dave The Lamb Meets The New Twins!

2 down 4 to go!!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Not One But Two New Arrivals at Nunnery Farm

This morning I went out to check on the sheep and noticed Violet  was by herself and as soon as I saw her I knew she had lambed. When I got there I saw a little white lamb next to her which I scooped up and told Violet to come with me and we set off for the stables to get her settled into the comfy straw bed so she could have a rest and so I could make sure both Violet and Baby Violet were ok.

 The lamb was female and very small. I had a funny feeling that Violet may have a  touch of mastitis so I tried to put the lamb on her to feed and it just wasn't going very well. I left them to it and got ready to go the vets for some antibiotics to give to Violet and the lamb should the mastitis get any worse. If the lamb starts to feed normally sometimes the swelling can reduce and things are ok. I have found that it is when the milk is not being stripped that mastitis can set in and mean taking the lamb from her and hand rearing which seemed a shame because she was such a good mother last year.

 Then I heard a sound - another lamb bleating - Violet had had twins but where was the other one?  I started searching all around the field, the place where she had given birth to the other lamb, in the stream, under the bushes and practically everywhere. I thought I may have imagined the noise and then tucked up next to the stables in a dark corner I found this one!

 A little boy black from head to toe, completely the opposite to his sister! I put him in with Violet and his sister and went off to get my supplies to treat them with should things not go to plan (as most things at Nunnery Farm tend to do!). My experience with Dave and Poppy last year meant that I was taking no chances this year and wanted to have everything to hand should I need it. 

When I got back I was armed with orphan milk to feed them with just in case Violet abandoned them, some penicillin to sort out Violet's mastitis, some colostrum for the twins and some antibiotics to inject them just in case they were not able to get that all important first milk from mum but the good news is that all was well in the stable and both lambs are feeding from mum now and settled down for the evening and both the new lams and Violet are happy and having a nice rest before going out in the field in a day or so.

I am now on official lamb watch and will be doing my rounds during the night with the torch so maybe tomorrow there will be some more new additions to the Nunnery Farm Flock!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

The Ups and Downs at Nunnery Farm in 2011

Now as those that have been following me in my attempts at moving ever closer to partial self sufficiency, which is to grow fruit and vegetables to accompany the free range meat I already produce, will already know that Dave the Lamb lost the plot last year and thwarted my attempts good and proper.

 For those that don't, Dave the Lamb was one of last year's lambs that I hand reared in the house after his mother died after giving birth to him and his twin Poppy who sadly I didn't manage to save. Dave was one of the porliest lambs I have ever dealt with and I fully expected to lose him too. Dave, however, had other ideas and is alive and well on Nunnery Farm. In fact Dave has become somewhat of a local celebrity as he always comes with me on the dog walks around the valley and has been known from time to time to accompany me in the Landrover! Dave's problem is he has no idea he is a lamb!

Dave would go out in the garden as he was slowly getting better and would always be with me during the day outside developing the veg patch and all was well. I imagined chutneys and fruit wines. Dave however had other plans which included eating everything in site and if he didn't like the taste of something he would make his bed in it. Dave the Lamb went berserk. It was so late on in the year when he did this (just as everything was getting ready to be eaten by ME!) that I actually thought I would have very little to show for my efforts at the end of the year. I am happy to say I was totally wrong!

The plants grew back in no time, my strawberries and raspberries grew in abundance, I couldn't move for blackberries, the hens laid plenty of eggs, in fact we got so much out of the veg patch that I couldn't have been more pleased.

This year I have already started outside and will tell you about that again but I intend to leave out the things I didn't make much use of and replace them with more of what I did. When the year ended I had made so much fruit vodka I thought it would last me a lifetime  and I was certain that Christmas would be a very merry one indeed.


The meat I produced on the farm last year meant that I did not buy a single piece of lamb, pork or beef. The sausages were split into 3 flavours pork/leek, pork and spicy pork which unfortunately other people have now discovered and my stocks have depleted!! 

I made lots of chutney and I still have lots left so at last I have a little home produce larder and have a small pile just aging nicely.. Unfortunately I didn't manage to save any of the vodka and considering the amount I produced is a little bit of a concern - I will simply have to make more this year!

 Dave the Lamb was forgiven and still spends his days playing with the dogs and joins in chasing the cats and he still gets into bother. The dogs are ok, the cats are still going and Kyle who is 2 now is having the time of his life and becoming quite the farmer!

This year I will produce twice as many vegetables and twice as much to drink - well, that's the plan!