Welcome to the first ‘season’ post of my new series! If you want to read more introductions to the ‘farm’ and get to know the animals, you can read the first post in the series HERE. Winter is one of the hardest times for us when looking after the animals. As everything is so muddy, looking after the animals and cleaning them out is such hard work. Also as it’s England, it’s nearly always raining! Sometimes, although very rarely, the mornings are so cold that no matter how much you try to smash the ice on the water containers, it just keeps re-freezing just as quickly! This winter, there were several days where the ice didn’t melt for 3 days or so!
For the alpacas, Winter is a bit of a love-hate relationship. They love the brisk or snowy mornings but dislike the damp or rainy days. There haven’t been any snowy days and due to dear old Storm Doris, quite a lot of the days recently have been rainy days. Not their favourite! This Winter has been particularly difficult for one of the younger alpacas, Coconut. One morning when we went to feed them, he was limping quite badly. After a vet visit (who diagnosed it as mud fever), we weren’t convinced that it was to do with his foot itself. His foot wasn’t excessively warm and he didn’t react at any pressure to his leg. A month later and everything we’ve tried hasn’t worked. We think perhaps either it’s a problem with his shoulder or he pulled a muscle in his leg and it’s taking a while to heal. Hopefully we’ll discover it’s cause soon. We’ve been treating another youngster, Minerva, for mange by moisturising her ‘dry patches’! Sounds a bit like me (although I don’t have mange!)
Sam is still visiting his 3 female ‘friends’ at a local farm and Stephanie is looking ready to pop! She’s due March 1st so the next update should contain lots of cute piggy photos! This litter will be Steph’s 4th litter with the size of her litter ranging from 9 to 11. We’re expecting more this time and so for reference, I’m going to tell you our estimations for litter size. My dad only thinks she’ll have 8 piglets while my mum is hardly more optimistic with 9 piglets. My brother estimates 11 and I think she’ll surpass this all with 13 piglets! This is only the 3rd time we’ve had at a pig birth on the farm but hopefully this time I’ll actually be there as both of the previous times, I’ve arrived just after the last little one pops out! In Spring, Sam will be spending a few more weeks with his friends before returning back to us. We’re not sure what will happen next although he’ll probably have a few weeks break!
The Winter has been hard on our ducks as well as they’ve been battling against a mink. The mink has a cruel method of clamping it’s jaw around their necks so they either die or are left with injured and deformed necks. Happily, several of the attacked ducks have recovered and we’ve now completely mink proofed the duck enclosure. We’d never really thought about mink and the dangers they impose for the ducks but now we have, we’re a lot happier with their safety! Hopefully for the ducks we will have several ducklings this spring although at the moment the number of male duck greatly outnumbers the females so you never know. The geese are still there usual docile selves. One funny story I do have for you though from this winter. We have a lake/pond and it freezes over every winter, in some places, the ice is quite thick in others it is thin. But anyway, the geese got spooked by something and flew straight at the lake which is their ‘safety place’. One goose landed on the ice and skidded straight from one side to the other while the other went straight through the ice in the middle of the lake and couldn’t move. We tried to see if coaxing her out with food would help but when she still couldn’t move, we sent my brother in a boat to crack a path for her to escape from. It was actually the sight of the boat sailing towards her that got her out of the ice but still it was quite an unusual experience!
I don’t know what people’s opinions on these animals are but we have rats. Not intentionally, either. It’s very hard to have animals of any sort and not have rats and no matter what we do, we can’t get rid of them. Anyway, the rats have taken acquaintance underneath the chicken house and it’s not a house you can move so at the moment we’re slowly dismantling it. They’re moving into another new and moveable house and it’s very exciting as the chicken house has always been in the same spot ever since we moved into this house in 2010 and now it won’t be. The chickens are a bit of a mess at the moment purely because they’re just coing out of moulting and so their feathers are just growing back. Give them a week or 2 and they’ll be back to their fluffy (if that’s the right word!) selves.
The sheep are also in the late stages of pregnancy. They’re due roughly around the start of April although we can’t be more precise about the dates as the Ram is in with the Ewes all year around. This year we’re particularly watching our oldest Ewe, Kerry, as we think this will be her last time as a mother as she’s getting too old. I can’t wait for the lambs to arrive! The goats are on a ‘New Year’ diet at the moment as they’re getting a bit large however this does mean they get grumpy particularly around dinner time!
Both the dogs have had their birthdays this winter with Inca turning 4 on New Year’s Day and Ferdi turning 6 on February 8th. Today (27th February) marks 4 years since we brought Inca home. Where has the time gone? They both seem like puppies to me still, it’s crazy!
I hope you liked this update and I can’t wait to share with you the arrivals that spring brings! For first news about any babies, follow me on Twitter (HERE)
Do you have any pets?