On Monday the 26th of September I went to see a sheepdog for sale. Her name is Becca, and while we were at the farm she demonstrated her ability to round sheep up and bring them to her owner. She has working sheepdog parents and great natural instinct. So...I bought her, to be my helping hand around the sheep. She is young, only two years old, and is very much like a puppy - she has so much energy, prefers to jump in the sink than spend time on the ground and has eaten Dad's slippers already. But, she is adorable, she has a lovely nature and is getting to know me and my ways well.
Then began the school visits. Last week we had 3 school visits, Dashwood's year 5s came on Tuesday followed by two days of Winchester House Pre-prep students. It was a busy three days but, children and staff enjoyed the visits and we feel we're constantly learning and moving forward with our farm days. Today we have had a visit from pupils from Hill View which again, has been incredibly full-on but also exhilarating and enjoyable.
On Saturday the 8th of October we led and hosted a birthday party for the first time. A lovely little girl I taught last year told me time and time again that she would be having her birthday party on the farm next year...each time I responded with 'Okay, we don't really do birthday parties'. But, we decided to give it a go. So, we spent three hours, holding hens, herding sheep, filling match boxes with natures treasures, sitting on tractors and making butter...with just enough time to eat some of Jane's food in the middle. Unfortunately the presents had to be opened at home...
Yesterday marked the end of the drilling period for this year. We got the cover crops sewn quite quickly after harvest and now the winter crops have all been planted too. In a few weeks more, if the weather permits we will possibly drill a few more fields (to ease the workload in the spring) but we are not too worried if that doesn't get done. All the essentials are done so work on the arable side of things can take a more leisurely pace now - don't be mistaken...we won't be putting our feet up! As a rule our farm follows the minimum tillage system, however, this year in a fight against black grass we have had to resort to ploughing one or two fields. In the picture below you can see a ploughed field being drilled (seeds planted). And Steve checking the depth of the seed.
Moving onto the sheep, we recently purchased a new ram named Fred, who is working with Brad this year. Have a look at the handsome two getting used to each other before going out and competing for some attention from the ladies. Our target for mating season this year was to get to 180 ewes, I am 93% there with 168...but unfortunately couldn't make it to the last few sales to top my numbers up completely. So, mating season has begun, the fellas are out in the field, wooing the ladies. Or at least chasing them down the field...
Finally, I am chuffed to say that I have been accepted onto Tesco's 'Future Farmer Foundation' which starts next Wednesday. I'll keep you posted on what it is like, I am very excited for next week..
That is all for now. Thanks for reading!