Welcome to GLYNELWYN - a smallholding in South West Wales

Glynelwyn - News

2011

December and late November

Well, so much for crossing fingers and hoping for a dry month. November AND December have been decidedly un-dry!!!!

However, life on the smallholding goes on no matter what the climate and we spent a busy few weeks 'finishing' lambs, getting Meat Boxes shipped out, and chasing Turkeys! These, despite having a grassy pen, liked to do a mad dash around the pen when let out in the mornings, flapping their wings and eventually taking off, flying over their pen fence and landing out in the horse field. They would then proceed in the general direction of a quacking noise and spend time 'chatting' to the ducks through the fence. At some point I'd have to go and round 'em up and herd them back to their pen where they were happy to stay until the following day. These antics did obviously come to an end the week before Christmas, but the birds certainly had a happy, healthy and fun life which made the resulting meat even more tasty and tender.

On the pig front, Wesley continues to go 'visiting' and is currently with some smallholding friends in Capel Iwan. An impressive Saddleback Sow and a Berkshire Gilt (purchased from yours truly last year) are his latest conquests. On Christmas Day we found 6 little Gloucester Old Spot Piglets had miraculously arrived in Pru's ark !!!! She'd caught me out as although I knew she was quite near to her time, she hadn't started nesting or bagging up to make me panic into bringing her in (I'll know better next time) and so she happily got on with things herself and is a perfect young Mum. I've no idea what sexes they are yet (typing this on Boxing Day) as she's somewhat protective of these little gems at the moment but there is no rush and they are all snug and safe in their ark for the time being.

We'll close off 2011 for now and wish you all :-

"Nadolig Llawen a Blwyddyn Newydd Dda"

(Merry Christmas and Happy New Year)

 

November

All the sheep are looking well and we currently have some 'visiting' ewes, 3 White Ryelands and 1 Coloured Ryeland, and so the Ryeland boys are still happily working. Hywel, are older Ryeland Ram is also back in work and is running with a handful of ewes in a nearby village.

The weather through October was very very wet but November has started reasonably well . Fingers crossed for a dry month.

October

Well the Turkeys are in situ and growing beautifully. We rear them outdoors in a grassy pen and they can jump about (yes they do seem to like jumping up and down) and run around as well as peck at the grass etc, all of which adds to a fabulous quality of meat both in taste and texture. All 6 are booked (including one for us of course) and we may well do a few more next year if anyone of our regualar 'followers' is interested. We can send them in meat boxes by overnight courier as we do for the pork and lamb.

Talking of pork, all four of the Middle Whites 'finished' and are now in various freezers dotted around the country as well as being served up at Llys Meddyg in Newport. The litter out of our lovely little Bekshire 'Heather Pig' have all gone to their respective new homes, with 3 being kept back for meat orders. Pru (the new Gloucester Old Spot) is looking well and has a lovely character, albeit she does like to climb on the gate and the fence at feeding time!! Both she and Spotty are due to farrow in January and so we'll have a busy month as we also have Jemini and Jeni (Anglo Nubian Goats) due to kid in January too. Wesley the boar is out 'working' again and is in great demand so he's happily keeping himself occupied around the area.

Going back to pork, we had our first ever attempt at making sausages with the last lot of Middle White pork. Derek was in charge of the mincing and all the preparation of the mix etc and all I had to do was be ready at the other end of the sausage stuffer and fill the skins!!!! We were delighted with our first attempt and ended up with some really fat scrummy sausages for our own use. We'll definately do it again, although we rely on Dragon Farm Foods to produce the product for our customers.

We have finally managed to get all the new water pipes dug into the ground at long last. Its taken a long time to get it finished and of course it wasn't without hiccup - the odd leak or two - but we think all is sorted now and we are very pleased with the result. We've still more water pipes and water troughs to put it, but that can wait until the Spring now.

September

Well we were a week later than planned but all three Tups went our with their respective little flocks in the middle of September and all of them are working well!

Heather eventually farrowed on 16th and had 9 gorgeous little shiney black piglets and has been the best Mum ever. Very attentive and very very careful about where to lie down. However, she didn't take kindly to being seperated by a matter of "inches" from her brood due to the farrowing bars and somehow managed to get under them and was then standing 'penned' in the corner of the farrowing barn with 9 piglets running around her feet. Fortunately we can just take the pins out and remove the bars easily and so we were able to release her without problem, but then had to adapt it slightly to prevent her getting under it again!

Still on the subject of pigs, Wesley our boar came home from his last 'job' and is currently happily living with his two wives here, Gertie and Spotty. We have also taken delivery of another young Gloucester Old Spot Sow from the Princess line and who is hopefully already in-pig to a Patrick boar. More news on Pru as time goes on.

Following our labours over the haymaking, unfortunately the hay was so thick and the bales subsequently so heavy, that the result has been some rather dusty hay. Shame, but it was pushing it trying to get it completely cooked and fluffed up in the 5 days of dry weather that we had which were just not hot enough.

We have bought in some Zwarble cross Texel ewe lambs to add to the meat producing flock and these are very well grown, good sized lambs and will be put to 'Nelson' in November to lamb well into Spring next year. We still have masses of grass and it's still growing so we're on the look out for some Store lambs to run through over the winter and sell on in the Spring.

The end of September saw us dispatching our 10 Sasso and 5 Saxony Drakes, and they are now beautifully 'oven ready' and in the freezer. We have also now added 6 Norfolk Bronze Turkeys to grow on ready for Christmas.

Late August

The weather was rather depressing at times and just not enough dry days to even think about haymaking .... until practically the last day of the month and then it was all guns blazing. Mowing took place on Saturday 27th August and then the next 5 days were taken up with trying to get the massively thick crop turned and dried in the short days. By Friday, we didn't dare wait any longer as rain was forcast the following day. So an incredibly busy day was had by us and our small team of helpers. By 9pm that night we'd managed to get about 375 of the 513 bales into dry storage, but sheer exhaustion and darkness meant we just couldn't lift another bale.

Sadly the following morning we awoke to drizzle and ended up practically giving away about a hundred bales to anyone who wanted to take it off the field - albeit a little damp. However, we were more than happy with the crop and felt a huge sense of relief and pride at the result.

Aside from haymaking, we are still waiting for Heather to show signs of farrowing and although there is a little udder there now, she's still happily romping around her paddock.

Another new addition to the animal kingdom is "Nelson" our new White Ryeland Tup, who is going to bring some new and rather good blood into our flock. He's by a 'Ruslin' sire and so we are looking for some lovely stock next year. Tupping is due to start 9th September.

August

Into August and saw the release of a fantastic book by Author and Artist Celia Lewis called "The Illustrated Guide to Pigs". Celia had emailed back in the Summer of last year asking about Middle White pigs and we were more than happy to send her photos of Mollie with her very new litter of piglets.

Original Photo Water colour

 

The book is a wonderful encyclopaedia of different breeds from home and abroad, with stunning watercolour paintings. It is a very easy book to read and the paintings leave you with that "aaahhhhh" feeling as you go from one page to the next. We also had some fun trying to put into words the types of noises pigs make and what those sounds are likely to mean.

Celia also wrote the wonderfully illustrated "The Illustrated Guide to Poultry" and for the chicken enthusiast this would make the perfect gift (hint, hint).

Wesley the Old Spot boar came home but was very soon in demand again and so after 2 weeks rest he packed his case and went off to join 3 ladies in nearby Llanboidy. Our own Spotty and Gertie are awaiting his return at the end of the month. Still on the subject of pigs and having recently lost our lovely Daisy, we were lucky enough to find a gorgous Berkshire Gilt (in-pig) bred by Chris Impey whose stock is always top notch and shown with tremendous success around all the big shows. We're not entirely sure when she's due to farrow, and will post here as soon as she has. We've given her the 'stable' name of Heather.

We also have created another enclosure where our Middle White porkers are happily rampaging!

Late July

Good weather in late July meant that we were able to get our Haylage fields cut, baled and wrapped in record time. So, our mainstay of winter fodder is now safely stacked ready for anything winter throws at us.

July also saw us take our first faltering steps in 'showing sheep'. We decided to enter one of our Greyface Dartmoor Ewes in the Rare and Minority Breed class at Cardigan Show. This breed doesn't need the clipping and trimming that a lot of the breeds do and so it was fairly easy just 'fluffing' her up a bit before entering the show ring area. There were 4 ewes in our class which included 2 Coloured Ryelands and a little Balwen. The judge decided our ewe was rather nice and pulled us in 2nd. We were absolutely delighted with this result especially as I'd only started training her to walk in a halter 2 weeks before! We then had to stand on the sidelines for the Championship part and once the overall Champion was selected (in this particular Class), we were asked to stand in the line up too. There were only 5 sheep forward and a Ram won the Champion but to our utter astonishement we were given the Reserve. What a result and what a huge amount of confidence it gave us. Having said that, we were well aware that the judge at the next show may decide we were rubbish!!! So, it was no big surprise to find ourselves at the bottom of the line at Fishguard show. Unfortunately we were amalgamated with the Suffolks ...... and magnificent specimens they were too ..... but we were far from "catching the judges eye" this time. Not down-hearted we had a great day and as both the shows had taken place in glorious sunshine and in stunning locations, we returned home very pleased with ourselves. To see a slideshow of photos of Cardigan Show click here and for slideshow of photos of Fishguard show click here.

June and Early July

Well as always, some goods things and some not so good things. We started off June on a happy note with 'Mollie' the Middle White having an easy farrowing (I adore MW piglets with their little snubbed noses), but ended on a very sad note with the loss of our beloved Berkshire 'Daisy'. A freak accident whilst she was away running with a boar resulted in her demise and she has left a large and sad gap in our small herd here. However, we are looking at bringing in a new gilt who will take over where 'Daisy' left off. We'll keep you posted.

Still on the subject of the pigs, 'Wesley' our Gloucester Old Spot boar is now home from his travels around the area and is 'resting' before he goes out with the GOS girls here.

Moving onto the Veggie garden, we decided to invest in a Brassica Tunnel this year; which is rather like a poly tunnel, but much simpler and is covered in fine netting. It only took a few hours to erect and we're now 'testing' it out. Sadly its not slug and snail proof !!!!! but hopefully the sprouts will be free from millions of caterpillars. (See photos page)

To add to the meat rearing range, we have just bought in another batch of Sasso day old chicks. These are brilliant meat birds and keep strong legs which don't collapse under the birds weight. Fortunately for them, they do get to free range once off heat and so the flavour of this meat is unbelievable; plus they have a layer of fat on them which keeps them beautifully moist whilst cooking. Also in the 'bird' line, we're just coming to end of hatching out some Saxony Ducks courtesy of some friends from Somerset. They brought us up 11 hatching eggs and we've so far had 9 hatch out and there is definately one more getting ready to come into the world. (See photos page)

All the sheep have now been sheared and they were pretty relieved to be free of those huge coats. One fleece in particular from our Coloured Ryeland Ram ('Lapwing') is a stunning fleece and we've decided to enter it for the Pembrokeshire County Show Fleece competition. Talking of showing, I'm going to have a go at Showing one of the sheep at a couple of local shows this summer too. Never done this before so am slightly nervous and will no doubt learn an awful lot ..... probably from my own mistakes .... but we'll see so keep your fingers crossed for us. I've decided to show a Greyface Dartmoor Ewe as she's been fairly well handled and so hopefully will help me rather than hinder my first attempt.

Late April and May

The swallows arrived in April and proceeded to take up every available building, including two field shelters that we had put up since last years visit.

Meanwhile, we desperately needed to spend some time back in the garden and polytunnel, and for starters we decided to invest in two new fruit trees - a Worcester Pearman Apple and an Opal Plum. We ousted yet another huge Buddleia to make room and the "fruit garden" has now become "the orchard", a rather grand title for this little hidden away area with its 6 fruit trees, masses of Autumn Raspberries, 2 Gooseberry bushes (already bursting with fruit), 4 Blackcurrent bushes and some Rhubarb; but from 'little acorns' ...as they say.

Finally managed to get some veggie seeds going and the majority took off with great gusto. Our usual Sugar Snap Pees, Yin Yang beans, Tomato plants, Courgettes being the first to show through. Also after 3 years of  'no show', we've now got some Aubergine and Pepper seedlings coming through and so some close nurturing of those is on the list.

After the sadness of losing our loving milking goat Della, we discovered that the Mum and half sister of our other nanny (Jangalli) were up for sale in Shropshire. After lots of email conversations with their owner, we settled on a date for collection. A lovely lady from near Brecon did the 'transporting' for us and on the last day of April, Jemini and Jeni arrived. They settled in immediately and Jeni didn't drop an ounce of milk despite all the trauma of travelling and ending up in a new home. They are an absolute delight. However, the herd is about to expand one goat further ...... watch this space.

Still on the subject of goats, the 3 kids out of Della went off to their two new respective homes, with the Male (now named Faithmead Spartacus) along with one female going to a showing home near Aberystwyth and already entered for several shows. The other female along with a female kid of similar age belonging to the breeder above went off to their lovely new home near Pencader to a new smallholder who was so excited about having her first proper livestock.

March and April weather was unbelievable but May returned a bit more to normal and finally we got a bit of rain which was desperately needed especially for the hay meadows.

Mollie the Middle White sow is due to farrow around 30th May and so I'm on pig watch again to try and be there when she decides the time is right. She's about the size of a hippo at the moment so we're hoping there are a good few little piggies in there.

In an attempt at preventing the cabbage white caterpillars devastating our cabbages, sprouts etc, we have invested in a brassica tunnel. We rounded up some help from nearby smalloholding friends to build this as it came in kit form, and will hope to start planting soon.

Early April

Lambs kept coming during the whole of March and into April when the very last ewe to lamb (a home bred shearling) FINALLY decided that she was in lamb after all and produced twins. Unfortunately it was all a bit of a mystery to Lily (the ewe) and although she adored the first little ewe lamb, she popped the second one out and then dismissed it without a glance. Another good many hours spent , cleaning up, rubbing, warming up and finally feeding the second ewe lamb resulted in a healthy lamb who was sadly a bit of a 'billy no mates'. She thrived well as having milked some of Lily's cholostrom off into a syringe and stomach tubed this particular offspring, she had all the goodness she needed to fight infection at this early age. 3 days later we collected a similar sized 'mollie' lamb from a local farm and she now has a mate who happens to be a little Welsh ewe lamb, but the two of them have buddied up and snuggle up together in their pen. Good result after all. We ended lambing 25 lambs out of 13 ewes - EXCEPTIONAL result.

WESLEY, our young Old Spot boar is back in demand and is currently wending his way around a forest of trees in the next village where he is residing with another couple of 'ladies'. Happy boy no doubt.

Our lovely Berkshire Sow Daisy has once again gone off down to Cwmbran to stay with her boyfriend. In the meantime, we've bought in another pure bred sow by the name of Belle. She is an Excelsa line sow and although we bought her in-pig, by the time we were able to go and collect here, she had already farrowed! So Belle arrived with 8 piglets at foot - and a lovely bunch they are too.

Late March

Life is not always so 'perfect' on a farm and we had the very sudden and tragic loss of our lovely Anglo Nubian Milking Nanny - Della. She had kidded without problem as always, in fact textbook kidding, 3 very healthy kids, passed her afterbirth and when I checked on her at 2am the following morning (as was still on lambing watch), she was standing guarding her kids wondering why I was poking about at such an unearthly hour. However, by 7.30am she was sitting down in the corner of her pen. I got her up and decided straight away to take some milk from her for the kids and due to the colour of what came out, rushed indoors to phone the vet. To cut a long and very sad story short, and despite seeming to 'turn the corner' and be on the road to recover, Della passed away 3 days later.

I still find it deeply upsetting and even now, updating you the news here in Mid April, I can't help but sob for her. She left behind 3 stunning kids, of which 2 have been booked for a showing home and I believe the male kid who has unbelievable 'presence' about him, is already in line for being shown at The Royal Welsh. The other female and a friends female kid are going to a lovely new home to start up a brand new herd for an enthusiastic novice goat keeper and we are delighted at this result. We still have Hebe who we retained from last year and so she will carry on Della's line here at Glyn Elwyn.

March

Spotty, one of our Gloucester Old Spot sows, had her litter of 11 on March 2nd. All piglets and Mum doing extremely well and have now moved from the maternity unit to the Nursery area. All this batch have been pre-booked but Gertie (our other Old Spot) is due to farrow around 24th April and that litter (depending on how many she has) will have a few available. Do please register your interest (no obligation) as we do keep a 'list'.

We've also had twin Ram Lambs born to our Suffolk Cross Ewe affectionately known as "One twenty" (as that's her tag no.) and the rest of the ewes are due to lamb over the coming few weeks.

Another set of twins born 5pm on 10th to one of our lovely Coloured Ryelands - one ram and one ewe. However, sadly 'Karen' had been got at by our Lleyn Ram before being covered by our Coloured Ram, and so not an ideal result, but both lambs big and strong none the less.

Our local builder who has been responsible for building our big shed, restoring our dutch barn, and building both the field shelter and the goat shed, has returned to erect another field shelter and this time essentially for the sheep. (see photos page). The weather can change so rapidly at this time of year and the lambs can be susceptible and so we are trying to make their move from the lambing shed to the big wide world as protective as possible.

More lambs and this time three ram lambs to one of our crossbreds. The other ewes look like they will follow soon!

We now have 11 lambs from the first 6 ewes, and 7 to go.  Meanwhile, the first batch are sent outside.

Another two lots of lambs, white Ryeland triplets and coloured Ryeland twins. The count is now 16 lambs to 8 ewes. More sleepless nights with 5 to go.

One of our Anglo Nubian goats has three kids, and we have a lamb to one of our Ryeland ewes at the same time, so we are kept busy for the afternoon!

More lambs go out and more Dartmoor and Ryeland lambs. Two more to go, with so far 20 lambs to 11 ewes.

January/Early February

Here we are Mid February already and what a difference in the weather. We continued with cold, hard, frozen ground on and off through January, but we've now hit the 'rainy season' and everything is a bit of a quagmire especially the outdoor pig area. However, it drains well and if we get 3 days of dry weather, the difference is quite remarkable.

Update on the pig front. Spotty is due to farrow around 1st March and we have now moved her out of the Old Spot group to an enclosure alongside. She is very large now and getting very slow, so not in a position to tussle with the others quite so easily, although she likes to boss Gertie around. Gertie is hopefully in-pig and should be due around end of April. Wesley the Old Spot boar is off to The Gower to spend about 6 weeks living the good life with two new wives! Mollie the Middle White is currently in the barn and living with Bill her new husband. Bill comes from a breeder in Whitland so he didn't have to travel very far to get here. Daisy is lazing aroung just eating and sleeping at the moment but we'll hopefully manage to find a husband for her sometime around the end of March.

All the in-lamb ewes are now in the big shed tucked up on straw and contentedly munching their haylage and feed. Talk about being waited on hand and foot!! We have our first lamb due on 24th February (Greyface Dartmoor), then the rest are due to start around 10th March. Only 13 to lamb this year so a bit easier than last year, having sold on the all the Lleyns.

Della, one of our beautiful Anglo Nubian goats is due to kid on 23rd March and is looking very well. Unfortunately Jangalli doesn't seem to be holding to service and she has again been covered by Bacchus at the beginning of February. She had such a bad kidding last year that it may be she's not going to 'take' but we're staying positive at the moment and will keep putting her back to Bacchus until the seasons stop naturally in the Spring.

Bacchus has not been idle since rutting season started and we currently have two 'boarding' Anglo Nubian nannies whom he is very happily trotting off to at least twice a day and doing his thing.

Away from the animals now and update on the garden produce and polytunnel .... ummm ..... zero! Been so busy with animals that so far we haven't had a moment to spare to get on with pruning and planting, but am hoping to get cracking before the end of February with, at very least, cutting down the Raspeberry Canes and taking a peek in the polytunnel!! Lots of seeds waiting to be planted and very excited as there are some veggies there that I've not tried growing before and these are courtesy of friends by way of Christmas Presents - perfect.

February 20th, and our first Greyface Dartmoor lambs early with a single ram lamb. Caught us out as she was due to be trimmed beforehand!! Their fleece is so long that it makes it harder for the young lambs to find the teat.