• Ducklings and piglets

    Well it's been 5 weeks since my last post (sorry!) and in that time two ducklings have hatched and the piglets have arrived. The ducklings are now 4 weeks old and are huge compared to their size when newly hatched and their mature feathers are starting to appear. Amy has tried to handle them as often as she can but their mums turn into geese and try and attack her when she puts them back down so that's a bit of a put off!! They are just starting to use the paddling pool which they are all enjoying in this warm weather.

    Collecting the piglets was the most bizarre experience! We picked them up in the dog crate which really wasn't fit for purpose as Porker (aptly named as he's the biggest) spent the entire journey home headbutting the top of the crate whilst standing atop of the other two and I spent the journey saying "naughty pig get down" and trying to hold the top on so the whole thing didn't collapse! The last thing we wanted was three wild piglets rampaging around the car! Anyway, we managed to get them home and unload them into their new paddock and it was so lovely seeing them explore grass for the first time. Their snouts are incredibly strong! They are having a lovely time snuffling around and rush to the fence whenever it's feed time. Pinky (I know we weren't going to name them but......) loves to have a scratch behind his ears and he rolls over so you can do his tummy too! We've had them three weeks now and they are three times the size they were when we got them. They'll be with us until October when they will say goodbye and return as sausages :-(. I keep reminding myself, and anyone else who asks, that these pigs were bred for their meat and if we weren't doing it someone else would. Their mum was MASSIVE and they will get huge and being boys they fight - at the moment it's playfighting but there is no way we could keep 3 adult boars. They get to live a short but happy free range life and there are no growth promoters or artificial additives in their feed so their meat should be lovely. It's all already accounted for so perhaps next year we'll need to get more piglets!

    James and Amy have been out shearing for more people which is a lovely way for them to meet other alpaca owners locally. We will get a shearing page on the website in due course for next year's shearing with prices etc for anyone who's interested.

    The grass continues to grow and we made the decision to cut our hay field this year without keeping it for hay as we still have a barn full from last year. James is considering buying his own equipment so we can cut and bale our own hay next year and therefore pick and choose the time.

    We haven't planned our next open day yet as we've had a busy month and with summer holidays around the corner we're wondering whether to wait until September. We would welcome your comments on this! We had also delayed as this time last year we were bombarded with horse flies but thankfully, don't seem to be nearly as affected this year. I think the long grass and stagnant water laying in the barn contributed to their numbers and we are a much tidier farm this year which I'm very pleased about! We had a swarm of honey bees arrive looking for a new home last week and James was really hoping they would stay but sadly they left. I'm sure we will soon be bee keeping on the farm as James was really keen!

    We have received approval from the Caravan Club to have a certified site on the farm which will be another way to encourage visitors to the farm and the local area and meet new people. This entitles us to just 5 caravans at a time which will be just right. Sadly, some of our neighbours objected without even bothering to come and talk to us about what it will entail. It's such a shame that they find it easier to object than to come and ask us. We also had a letter from the council this week saying that someone had reported that we were running as a "Public Viewing Farm" and that we had constructed hard standings for caravans. As both of these accusations were completely false it is such a waste of time for both us and the planning department. Again, it is such a shame that people take it upon themselves to complain when they are not in possession of the facts. All it would take is a visit and a chat for us to allay their fears. As both of these accusations were lies James is of the opinion that this is bordering on harrassment and he is considering putting a case together. When we spoke to the lovely lady at planning she didn't even know what a "public viewing farm" was as this isn't a definition that anybody uses and we are certainly not an open farm, which is defined .The charity who organise Open Farm Sunday, which we particiated in, were happy to provide a letter of support for us and were very enthusiastic about the school visits we have planned as we have so much to offer not just because of our animals but because we are an eco farm. Planning said there is absolutely no problem in us having open farm days and said they are very happy with the level that we are running at. The certified site for caravans will be in a grassed paddock that we have had fenced and there are certainly no hard standings as we intend to open in the spring/summer only. Something we could have explained had we been asked......!

    Well we're here to stay and have lots of plans for the future. It is nice to have most of the locals on board but we're not going to lose any sleep over the minority that don't have anything better to do! We're too busy planning our next adventures! Perhaps we'll open a theme park...........

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