This past week the weather has chilled down and it really feels like the summer season is now behind us here on the farm. The animal’s coats are beginning to thicken and while the grass remains lush a heavy dew sits thick on the ground each morning and the leaves are beginning to tumble down. Our morning tractor rides are typically filled with preschoolers and babies while the school age children in the main must wait another week for half term before returning to the farm.
While we enjoy the change in the seasons it is a timely reminder for us that there are many jobs on the farm that need to be actioned to ensure the animal succession planning runs smoothly into 2014.
Planning for lambs
Rambo the Ram came to the farm a couple of weeks ago and our lovely lady sheep are being introduced to the handsome fellow one by one. In doing this we hope to spread our lambing season out from the end of February through to April. By Christmas he will have served all our ewes and return to his farm on the Moor on Christmas Eve in return for our free range Turkey. Anyone staying with us for Christmas is most welcome to place a turkey order through us too, they really are the best!
When Nick asked our little helpers at the end of the feed run if they would like to come and help catch the first ewe for Rambo there were plenty of hands that shot up. It was a week where we had a family who were homeschooled and another who had permission to visit us as educational leave and the children all being older than our other guests teamed up together and relished these additional tasks.
Rambo meeting the first of our ewes with Farmer Nick & his little helpers.
Why no kids?
Our adorable pigmy goats have been a worry to us all season. Despite two changes of Billy goat at vast expense we failed to have any kids born this year. Nick has been deep in consultation with the vet and has extensively searched the internet for clues on diet and fertility to no avail. It may just be that we have had two infertile Billy goats but this seems unlikely. Furthermore he is concerned that two of our nanny goats have been suffering failing eye sight. Finally it was the blindness that gave us a clue to our problems. It turns out bracken may be at the route of all our problems and we have plenty of it here on the farm. Acting swiftly we moved all the goats into a new field during the feed run last week and treated them to a lush supply of nutritious branches as a result of some serious hedge trimming and path widening and a big bundle of hay. Hopefully this will be the spark they need while we work on killing off the bracken in their old field.
Moving the goats with some helpful assistance from our little helpers and Coombe Mill kids
Nick was not happy to leave it all to our existing team again for next year and jumped at the opportunity to purchase some new stock from a farm in North Devon who were pulling out of goat farming. He took a chance on our dilapidated old stock trailer for one final outing to go and purchase them on on Saturday. Four pretty nanny goats and a billy with a fragrant stink which preceded him down the lane filled me with hope. The children prepared what will become the lambing field next spring for the new goats over winter with hay and straw in their little houses and rushed out to help their Dad bring them onto the farm.
Introducing New Goats to Coombe Mill Farm
Over the season we plan to integrate the old and new goats, but for now we will keep them apart giving the new five a chance to adapt to life at Coombe Mill and the routine of the morning visits from the children staying here. It will also provide a little time to see how our original goats thrive without the bracken in their field before meeting their new play pals.
Step into Spring
If you are thinking of staying with us next year we should have plenty to look forward to from early spring with lambs and kids to delight all the family from tiny tots to grandparents.
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“Tales from the farmers wife” shares the funny and interesting happenings on our lovely holiday farm with Farmer Nick and our 6 children. A behind the scenes look on balancing family, farming, the holiday business and cooking for all.