Welcome to GLYNELWYN - a smallholding in South West Wales

Glynelwyn - News

2010

December

Well December has certainly been a test on resources! I know just about everyone has had snow this year and although we only had a couple of inches, it was the freezing conditions that made life rather hard for us here. Frozen water troughs, frozen pipes, frozen taps, frozen everything. A hard slog with lugging buckets of water from the utility room to a lot of the animals although we were able to take buckets of water out of the header tank for the pigs. I think the two spells of snow fall made it seem like we've not seen any greenstuff since mid November!! Anyway, here we are with Christmas over and New Year just around the corner. This morning we've had the start of a thaw, and what has been taking 3 hours during the freezing weather, has taken just over an hour this morning. No ice to break - whoopee. Pipes underground and one tap still frozen, but only a matter of time now.

So, what else can I tell you? All the animals have come through the biting cold conditions very well, and even the horses are all still outside which has been a huge help. They're all as fat as butter and very very hairy as no rugs on either, and consequently much healthier as a result. Having said that, if we now get days upon days of icy rain, the two big ones will come in at night. The two ponies will stay outside as we have that wonderful new field shelter for them which was installed at the beginning of September. The old 'girl' gets very stiff if she comes into a stable overnight, and so she and the Dartmoor are quite happy to stay outside.

A bit behind with the pig breeding schedule due (yet again) to the frozen ground as we didn't dare risk putting Spotty and Wesley outside with Gertie as there will almost certainly be some cavorting around and there would be the risk of broken legs on this hard ground. We're now waiting for the ground to soften enough to swap them around and to bring Mollie into the barn so that she can meet up with her new husband (who lives about 7 miles away). Daisy will once again go off down to one of her usual boys in Cwmbran around about Feb/March time.

The goats have all been holed up in their stables for the entire month and have been extremely well behaved. Hopefully they'll be able to come out for a short spell very soon although they don't seem to be the slightest bit interested at the moment.

All the sheep look very well and there again, it was a daily stuggle getting the ones up the lane their feed and water sorted, but thankfully the good old Quad bike was a godsend. First lambs due end of February - gulp.

Will sign off the year now and wish you all a Very Happy, Healthy and Prosperous New Year from all of us here at GLYN ELWYN.

November

After a lot of thought regarding the sheep, we decided that we would concentrate on increasing our breeding flock of White and Coloured Ryelands. Therefore, we advertised the Lleyns and they went to two very nice homes here in Wales. Having said that, and being just a tad interested in different fleeces (for spinning, felting and such like), I side tracked ever so slightly on the "only have one breed of sheep" decision and bought a trio of Greyface Dartmoors who are just the bees knees. When the weather improves (its snow and ice at this particular time), we will add some photos and will update everyone on these gorgeous sheep later on.

Another new arrival to the farm and who made the monumental journey from just outside Edinburgh, is a new Anglo Nubian female kid called 'Ballingall Spring'. She's a gorgeous cream colour all over and will make a lovely future wife for 'Bacchus'. She and 'Hebe' are now penned together and as they are both the same age and size, get on perfectly together.

Early on this month we experienced some sudden and very high winds. One morning having got up out of bed and walked rather bleary eyed past a window that looks out onto the horse field, I stopped and wondered why the NEW field shelter looked rather odd. I continued to just stand and stare and then decided the roof had actually been blown off the building during the night. I still stood there staring for another couple of minutes and then it finally dawned on me that the roof hadn't been blown off, but that the whole thing had been barrel rolled and it was actually sitting upside down on its roof!!! The lovely Apex roof was now a flat roof.....and on the ground. We quickly dressed and got out to view the damage and more importantly to make sure the horses were all safe (which they were) and found that at least the main structure which had been built with some very sturdy timbers, was actually undamaged and it was just the roof that would need to be repaired. However, first things first, and I made an early call to the builder who came straight down to have a look and then returned within the hour with his Tele-hoist in order to pick the thing up, turn it back up the right way and set it back down in its original place. Repairs will be carried out shortly.

Snow has arrived early and we have spent the last week breaking the ice on hte water troughs to add to the daily chores. Everything looks pretty, but it will be good to see a thaw! The arrival of the snow also prompted us to open our first bale of haylage. The smell of summer is a welcome reminder of warmer days and seeing the good supply of food form the winter makes all the hard work worthwhile.

Late October

Plans to hire our usual Old Spot boar to cover both the Old Spot sows went somewhat array when we heard that the boar was unwell and wouldn't be available for hire. Therefore a rather urgent search for a new boar ensued and despite searching within 100 miles of us, there was nothing to be had for hire and almost nothing to buy. However, I suddenly came across a very young 'Gerald' boar in mid Wales and we trundled off to see him one sunny but cool day. The youngster was an immediate hit with us as he was almost too friendly and the merest scratch to his side caused him to collapse at all four corners into a heap at ones feet. This was obviously bliss to him and sent him into an almost trance like state. Needless to say, a couple of weeks later we returned with the trailer and collected 'Wesley' (named, I might add, after a Guinea Pig my mother had about 40 years ago!!) and brought him back to Glyn Elwyn. He was put in with 'Spotty' the following day and although about half her size and the underdog for .....hmm....well....probably about 2 hours, he soon made himself at home, gave as good as he got when it came to arguments at feeding time and about a week later, got on with the buisness in hand. Fingers crossed now.

During September we collected 6 Norfolk Bronze Turkey Poults to rear for Christmas. These are brilliant birds as they have fantastic double breasts and make for a delicious gamey flavour especially as they are reared outside where they can peck at the grass and insects as well as have their normal ration of food. Also on the subject of poultry, we acquired 2 Guinea Fowl keats. Not for any particular reason except we'd never had any before and they do make rather a nice noise and chatter away whilst following me about. I understand pickled Guinea Fowl eggs are just the best.

The last day of October culminated in a contest to see who could make the best pumpkin to light up and place on the driveway wall. Mandy won because she would let anyone see how she made the teeth!

September/Early October

Well we finally got all the Hay and Haylage cut, dried, baled and stacked. We had a fantastic crop this year - our best year so far, so we can breathe easily this coming winter whatever weather gets thrown at us.

Molly, the Middle White Sow, was turned out into the sunshine (and mud wallows) along with her rather small gang of piggies. As always their comical activities caused us, well me mainly, to waste lots of time leaning on fence posts watching them.

Still on the piggy theme, Daisy, our Berkshire, came into the barn and farrowed 9 wonderful little black bundles without problem. At two weeks of age the whole family was also turned out into the sunshine and the comedy continued with a wonder array and mixture of black and pink piglets racing up and down together and having the time of their lives.

One sad day when we had been out to a talk by a very well known Pig Vet, we came back just at dusk to find that a stoat had nipped into the Duck run and snatched one of our Khaki Campbell Ducks. Then just to add insult to injury, the other one decided to go walk about and somehow got out into the lane and then hit by a passing car. So we were down to just two Drakes but as luck would have it, we trundled off to Pembrokeshire Show and bought 2 Indian runner Point of Lay ducks and after a couple of days of being kept inside, were released out into the pen and onto the pond. One happy bunch of ducks and drakes again, although no eggs as yet.

We've had the most incredible number of Swallows nesting this year and not only once, but laying second clutches of eggs too. However, although all the normal haunts were adopted for nests, a new placed was discovered by two sets of Swallows and that was on the back of the horse trailer, welded to the 'feet' of the ramp on the back. The pictures show you one family just about to fledge.

The Polytunnel has again been busy this year and we've had an abundance of Red, yes Red tomatoes - and we've NEVER managed to have them turn red on the plants before, along with Cucumbers of the sweetest flavour, Yin-Yang beans, Sugar Snaps, Courgettes, Celery, Sprouts and salad leaves. The fruit trees have been stunning this year too, all except for the Pear which decided to drop its fruit very early on and we've yet to discover why. The Cox's apples are fabulous as are the Bramleys. We even had enough plums this year to make ONE jar of plum jam!

Our 3 TV star Old Spot porkers went on their final journey at the end of September and are now looking delicious in people's freezers, including ours. however, the lambs are taking longer to 'finish' this year and it would appear to be due to the Spring having started late and put the whole year back by about 3-4 weeks. We aim to have the meat lambs finished mid to end of November ready for Christmas orders. We've sold some store lambs this year too and are keeping two back ourselves in order to try hogget in the new year.

Now that winter is approaching and the nights are getting longer, we're trying to get a few more things done in order to make life a little easier throughout those wet, windy, snowy days and nights. We've had the side of the new barn dug out and a rather large concrete pad put down and this is our new Dung/Muck area. Bliss to be able to walk across concrete with a full muck barrow, rather than trying to get through mud and grass. Its amazing how new Muck bunkers can bring such delight to us !

August

August arrived and we still haven't been able to cut any hay or haylage due to the wet July. However, we monitor about 4 weather forecast websites and identified a gap early in the month and low and behold, the weather held just long enough for us to cut the home fields, turn it in a very nice warm breeze for several days and they got it baled and wrapped on the last of those dry days! Whooppeee, our main crop of winter forage now safely stacked.

Mollie, our newest Sow finally farrowed on ......Friday 13th !! Not a big litter but a delightful one none the less. She's a fantastic sow and by far the friendliest we've ever had. There are of course lots of photos on the Photos Tab under Summer 2010, but the one alongside is probably the sweetest and they were only 12 hours old at this point.

Having had pigs go filming, we were then contacted by a lovely lady from Surrey area who is writing a book about pigs and is also a fabulous water-colour artist and asked if we had any photos of Middle White pigs she could use for the book. Perfect timing as this was just a couple of days before Mollie farrowed and so we were able to furnish her with some very new piglet photos. We are now looking forward to seeing the artist's impression of them sometime in the Autumn and again we'll keep you posted.

We have just collected our new Coloured Ryeland Ram - Derwent Lapwing. He is a shearling (yearling) ram and this will be his first season of 'work'. He's from a quality line and we are looking forward to some cracking lambs by this chap.

Here we are at the end of August and we still have about 5 acres of standing grass to cut and make into hay or haylage. The weather just hasn't been good enough to risk it so far, but fingers crossed for the next few days ......

July

Complete change of weather this month - very drizzly although muggy with it.

We had an email early in the month asking if we had any pigs around the 40kg mark that a film company could use for a WW11 programme. As luck would have it, our 3 porkers were at about that size and so we agreed they could be used. After endless phone calls and emails between 3 different DEFRA branches and even the Welsh Assembly having to get involved, we eventually collected a licence to be able to move the pigs from here to the 'shoot' location in Shepton Mallet, Somerset. The pigs set off with a friend of ours (and who was ultimately responsible for us getting the licence) on a Thursday morning at the end of July and they spent 4 days in luxury accommodation 'on-set' being filmed before returning home on the evening of the following Monday. They had apparently been absolute 'stars' whilst there and had even acquired their own fan club. They were pretty tired by the time they got home and so slept for the next couple of days recovering from all the excitement. We've yet to hear what the programme is going to be called but I believe it is being broadcast in November. We'll keep you posted.

This month the soft fruits i.e Gooseberries, Rhubarb and Blackcurrants have started to come into their own and with a glut of Goats milk, I've been busy making soft cheeses again, and also discovered the delights of Goats cheese 'cheesecake' and which as you can see in the photo alongside has been a huge success when things like blackcurrents are added to the cheese and the puree on the top - Delicious.

Home veggies in the polytunnel have started to grow on well too. The first flush of Sugarsnaps are always popular as are the Ying Yangs which follow on in August. Outside success has been minimal and the slugs have dessimated the Onion beds yet again and as for trying to grow brasiccas outside - hmmmm....waste of time. We'll have to have a re-think next year as losing so much crop is very annoying.

After endlessly 'trying' to learn to Spin, I finally 'cracked it' and have been busy practicing on a some wirey Herdwick fleece which is very easy to spin as its rather like hair and very tough with it. Am looking forward to moving on to some of our own Ryeland fleeces when I've had a bit more practice.

June

The weather this month continues to be perfect for our hay and haylage crop. Lots of warm, dry, sunny days and then some showers, perfect. We're keeping our fingers crossed we get a good early'ish crop this year as last year's was a bit of a disappointment with regards to quantity, but not quality.

I've also been on a one day 'Skep Making' course locally. Bee skeps were used many, many years ago and although we don't as yet keep bees, the same process is used for some types of basket. Thus my Skep, became a basket and I'm just waiting to get hold of some more cane in order to make a handle for it.

Our pig enterprise is currently thriving and we have decided to re-home our two Kune Kunes,who are due to make the journey to Derbyshire any day now. Once they have departed, we are due to collect a new addition to our Rare Breed Herd. She is a pedigree registered Middle White Sow and is currently in-pig. Middle Whites are on the 'Vulnerable' list of the Rare Breeds Survival Trust and we are hoping to help maintain this breed by breeding a few here at Glyn Elwyn.

May

Well, May was a month of Goat news - some good, but some sad. It started with Jangalli going into labour 3 days late, having the most dreadful time which culminated in 2 dead kids. Jangalli was terribly ill after her ordeal and we were of the opinion she only had a 50/50 chance. However, with constant nursing over the 4 days following the kidding, she eventually seemed to turn the corner and finally started to nibble a bit of food (Banana) and drink a little bit of warmed water with glucose in it as well as some warm goats milk.

During this time, Della decided to kid 2 days early and produced 3 bouncing healthy babies. Two black boys and one rather plane but dainty girl. We took the two boys to the vets for castration at about a week old and one of them needed to be disbudded too (this means having the horn buds removed). We were very fortunate to have been asked if we would sell the two boys to a 'Special Needs' farm in Bristol and we were more than delighted for them to have a lovely pet home rather than having to be reared for meat. The young nanny kid has been christened 'Hebe' and will be registered under our herd name and will be kept on as a future breeding goat.

Also early in May we purchased a second Gloucester Old Spot Sow called 'Spotty' complete with her brand new piglets. Meanwhile 'Gertie' and her brood continued to thrive and enjoy the glorious sunshine and also the wonderful muddy wallows I have had to keep topped up during the hot weather.

On the last day of May the 'Shearer' arrived to rid the sheep of their thicky woolly fleeces. This all went well and we took advantage of having the whole gang in (55 in total!) and trimmed all the feet as well as vaccinated all the lambs and ear tagged them, ....although there are still a few to do!

April

April brought about the arrival (via purchase) of a new male goat kid destined to be our Stud Billy. He is a stunning looking black and white mottled chap (see photos) and we are absolutely delighted with him. His name is Klimova Bacchus and comes from near Aberystwyth. On the subject of goats, the two nannies are both due to kid during May - so watch this space for updates.

April is always the time for "Wonderwool Wales" at Builth Wells and we went along on the first day to see all the fabulous crafts and to get ideas for what else we could do with our own fleeces. We are hoping to send off some of the 'clip' to a wool producer who can process small amounts and turn into spun wool. This is very exciting as to be able to make full use of our own fleece from sheep to shoulder (as it were!) is something we've been hoping to be able to do since first getting into sheep.

March

Sheep, sheep and more sheep! We started lambing March 7th and finished on April 3rd having had a total of 41 lambs out of 22 ewes; so a very good percentage rate. It was a month of sleepless nights (the two of us doing shifts throughout the night) and watchful days but we only had one lamb that we actually had to intervene and deliver, everything else, even the Shearlings, lambed quite happily unaided.

The first batch of lambs benefited from being able to go outside from a few days old due to sunny, dry weather. However, all that changed for the second half of the month and we put up a 'poly-shelter' which the young ones thought was ideal and at times it just looked FULL of lambs. End of lambing brought lovely dry weather again and sunshine although a bit of nippy northerly wind at times.

During the latter part of March, Gertie farrowed and had a lovely bunch of spotty piglets, all doing well and having a great old time rushing up and down the grass alleyway outside their run. They seem to dare each to see who will venture the furthest...and then get squawked at by the geese and high-tail it back to safety.

January/February

Well, we all survived the weeks of snow and ice and regardless of weather the day to day work of running the holding continued.; in fact, we seemed to be busier than ever!

The young male goat we had 'staying' subsequently moved on to a friend a few miles away who also had a nanny she wanted covered. Our two girls are due around second week of May and both are looking very fit and well. On a sad note, our very aged Pygmy Wether contracted pneumonia (as well as having a heart murmur) and despite numerous doses of antibiotics he finally passed away in his sleep at the end of January. He'd lived to a good age and although he annoyed the hell out of us at times, he was a real character and is still sadly missed when going into the Goat Shed.

We 'finished' our remaining Berkshire and GOS weaners in early February (several weeks past our planned date due to the weather) and despite the fact there is risk of pigs running to fat if taken on for too long, these girls, having the benefit of rushing around outdoors, 'finished' with a perfect level of fat and as always the most beautiful flavour. On this occasion we used the services of Dragon Farm Foods (near Tregaron) who are a small family butchery business and we (and our customers) were absolutely delighted with the butchery and the presentation of the pork.......We'll be using them from now on and can highly recommend their services.

Still on the subject of pigs, our Gloucester Old Spot Sow Gertrude is due to farrow around 23rd March and she too is looking very happy and well. Daisy the Berkshire, currently has Bertie the boar staying with her at the moment (this is a Champion Peter Lad Boar belonging to Chris Impey of Cwmbran) and they are both holed up in the newly refurbished dutch barn, and looking very snug as you can see the from the photo.

Finally we get to the sheep and all 22 of in the in-lamb ewes are now safely bedded down in the new barn. Our first is due around 9th March, which is one of the Ryelands, and we'll then be on sheep watch day and night for about 4 weeks.

New Year and early January

As mentioned in the final update of 2009, due to the snow, snow and even MORE snow.....feeding and watering of livestock took on a whole new regime. Water pipes and subsequently - water troughs...were freezing up on a daily basis and meant not only constantly having to break ice, but also bucketing water to those troughs that were no longer self-filling. The Pigs and Goats revelled in having extra Haylage (which they all absolutely ADORE), but the sheep were a different story. We have 18 breeding Ewes and 2 rams about half a mile away and this therefore meant taking daily rations of Hay to them......and the only way to get there was on the Quad.