Welcome to GLYNELWYN - a smallholding in South West Wales

Glynelwyn - News

2012

December

December was quite an eventful month one way and another. Belle one of our Berkshire Sows produced a magnificent litter of 12 on 1st of the month and all doing extremely well (still a few available at weaning). Then on 27th December, Jemini one of our Anglo Nubian Nannies produced a stunning little single female kid whom we've called Flora. Photos of all these new arrivals are on the Photos page, so do go take a look as there is nothing quite so sweet as baby animals.

 The Norfolk Bronze and Bourbon Red Turkeys met their end just before Christmas and mighty tasty they were too! These traditional and heritage breeds certainly add a little bit of extra flavour in our opinion and especially as they are allowed to free range and scratch about and to a certain extent 'fly' about .... although that's not a planned exercise .... and all this adds muscle to the animals and thus produces these fabulous textures and flavours.

Whilst all this was going on the rain continued to pour and pour and pour. The fields have been so waterlogged that any additional rain just runs off and comes cascading out of the gateways in torrents. Fortunately it all ends up in the stream at the bottom of the valley, but it makes a mess en route!

Wesley is still currently away and is staying for a slightly longer holiday than first planned and so we had to make a rapid decision about Spotty (one of our Old Spot Sows), who was due to be covered by Wesley mid December, and put 'Oliver' our Berkshire boar in with her instead. This of course means we will have crossbred piglets but as we need to keep up the supply of meat pigs it was a necessary movement. It will be interesting to see what pops out in April.

Don't forget the PHOTOS page and also our new Facebook page as we'd like to try and gather a few more 'Likes' on the site.

Thank you to all our friends, colleagues, customers past, present and future for your ongoing support in the purchasing of livestock and meat products from us. Long may it continue, as to eat either something you've raised yourself or to know the origins of the meat you are eating and that it has had a happy, natural, well cared for life is the most important thing to us. Happy New Year one and all.

 

November

Torrential rain, floods and miserable livestock who have been more than fed up with the constant rain that hit us throughout November. However, although we did experience waterfalls of water coming off the fields, apart from one goat shed that flooded due to the drainage ditches breaching, everything else remained safe and dry. So, some very rapid evacuations took place followed by a day of heavy barrowloads of sodden strawbeds, and all now rapidly back to normal and the goats back in their respective pens.

Onto brighter things and we collected 4 more Dutch Zwartble sheep at the beginning of the month all of whom have settled in beautifully. These very large but docile sheep are a pleasure to have around and make a lovely contrast to the other breeds that we keep. I'm hoping to take the ewe lamb 'showing' next year .... and we'll see what the judges think about THIS breed as well as our gorgeous lustre longwool Dartmoors.

The Christmas Turkeys (Norfolk Bronzes and Bourbon Reds) are all doing well and enjoy the grassy area behind the big shed during the day - provided that its dry....they're not keen on rain!!!

We took a rare 'day off' at the end of the month to visit Builth Wells Winter Fair. Its a fabulous event and very festive. The fatstock show which takes place over the two days is always well attended and we love to see the auction of the stock as well as the showing of them. The competitors seem to take on that extra bit of joviality due to the festive season - well, that's how it appears to us. There are many many stalls to look around and do some Christmas shopping as well as indulge in some glorious foods on offer, especially the scrummy Mulled Wines.

I was very chuffed to be asked to 'review' a new poultry book coming out as an e-book very soon. It's a fantastic book and we'll post more info on our Facebook page as and when we hear it's out on the market.

Don't forget to keep a check on our Facebook page for up to the minute snippets as they happen here on the Smallholding.

 

October

OK, so where DID October go then?? We've been caught up in the hussle and bussle, or should that be Hassle, of having an extension built to the bungalow. Only a small one ....yeah, right....to make the lounge a more useful size (a postage stamp wasn't the ideal size) and subsequently this meant the kitchen had to be extended too. Derek took mountains of photos but nothing that we'll put on here to bore you with. However, here we are (actually into early November now) and the main building work is done (I won't say 'dusted') and now carpet laying is happening and the kitchen needs to be put back together ( who had the plan last time???), which should be completed by mid November. AS they say "Never Again".

Onto more Smallholding type things, we had rather a lot of rain here and there, so I guess we're catching up with the rest of the country still, although the floods have so far been avoided. The 9 ram lambs that we had running about on grass, getting nice and plump have now gone to meet their maker and very tasty they are too. We had a good customer base for these chaps this year and so nothing had to go off to the Mart which was great news as to be able to breed them here, rear them here and then 'finish' them here is what we're all about. I even managed to buy an old but perfectly serviceable pig and sheep weigh crate from a local farm (via a certain internet aution site), which is a great asset and I am very pleased to finally be able to check the weight of not only the lambs but also the porkers as they are coming up for 'finishing'.

Turkeys have arrived, a little later than planned and so already a good size. 3 Norfolk Bronze and 3 Bourbon Reds....we think! Nice looking birds and being totally spoilt as always. On these dreadful wet cold days they stay in their big stable on deep straw and with lots of food to eat and fresh water (of course). When the weather is fine, I 'walk' them round to their grassy pen behind the big shed where they can enjoy nibbling the grass and having a good scratch around....and then I 'walk' them back to their B&B in the evenings.

The 3 gilts from Heather Pig's litter have now gone off to their new home at Charcutier Ltd (take a look- http://charcutierltd.wordpress.com/ ) where they will be reared to Bacon weight and turned into all sorts of gloriously delicious things.....we're hoping for a sample at some time. The remaining 4 boar weaners are staying here with us and will finish at pork weight for several customers who have already got their orders in.

Don't forget to keep a check on our Facebook page for any snippets of gossip that crop up from time to time.

 

September

September has brought about a lovely litter of piglets our of 'Heather Pig' one of our lovely Berkshires and on the subject of pigs, Wesley our Gloucester Old Spot Boar came home early in September and was immediately befriended by two visiting Saddleback Sows - so he's been a busy boy again. He is due to run with one of our own Old Spot Sows (Pru) from early October and then no doubt he'll be off on his travels again until we need him back around Christmas time. 

Tupping has had a very slow start this year although the weather has been so bizarre I don't think the ewes have been coming into season as early as I'd hoped. However all the sheep are very fit and well and we are currently assessing the condition of the ram lambs ready for the butcher. 

The goats have been particularly pleased at being able to 'free-range' across the home fields and have been coming in at night completely stuffed which has helped on the haylage front. All except Hebe (and her kid of course) have been covered by Bacchus and once Dolly has been weaned, then Hebe will be permitted to run with him too. Bacchus has in fact now got his very own goat shed and he almost looks lost in it! He seems very settled and it has a nice high door that he hopefully can't jump over !!! 

The horses too seem to have had a great deal more grass for longer this year. The weather may have been bizarre but the grass has certainly grown this past summer and here we are in Autumn and its still growing well.

We've noticed a lack of acorns this year following a bumper year last year and so the daily 'acorn hunt' in the sheep fields to remove them (poisonous to sheep) and bringing them back for the pigs (who absolutely adore them) has yet to commence! In fact, along with the apples, pears, and other fruits, we have seen very little of anything - and certainly no sloes !!! Blackberries are looking reasonable though and so MUST get out there with my bucket and pick those before the birds swipe 'em.

 

August

Our endeavours at showing sheep continued with a lovely annual show at Nevern and which was slightly better weather than the previous show. We took 3 sheep this time, but once again up against some very BIG sheep and also breeds with with very early born lambs, we were at the bottom of selections. However the judge was very kind and said that "up against similar breeds of sheep you would do well, but when against the likes of these, they just don't stand out". Sad but true.....but we'll be back next year as the general public once again took a lot of interest in them and asked lots of questions about the breed which is what its all about (sort of).

A short spell of dry, warm weather meant we could crack on with a short stretch of standing grass and we had our first attempt at using the small baling equipment we'd bought earlier this year was put to the test. All worked well, although time consuming, but we were very proud of our first 26 small bales of haylage which is now safely stored in the shed.

Mid August saw us once again at Pembrokeshire County show complete with sheep and fleeces. We had a lovely day and were absolutely delighted with a 3rd place with our Greyface Dartmoor - 'Bracken' in the Ewe class. The fleeces also did well again, and all three have subsequently been sold to spinners.

Our final event of the year was at Cynwyl Elfed and it absolutely tipped down with rain all day. However, despite the torrential weather a very good turn out braved the conditions and sheep and cows were shown in all classes as well as a large marquee with craft classes, produce classes, welsh folk dancing demo, cookery demo etc and everyone seemed to be in good humour. We went from one extreme to the other at this event as in 3 of our 4 classes we were the only entry!!!! Lots of Llanwenogs, Welsh, Texels, Badger Faces etc etc, but on this occasion a stunning Blue Faced Leicester in the ram lamb class was our only competitor!

 

July/Early August

The mixed weather has returned for August, and our first show at Cardigan was both wet and windy all morning. We did manage to dry out a bit in the afternoon, but quite a few vehicles had to be towed out of the muddy grounds when they left. Fortunately we were lucky to not be amongst them!

July did actually bring us some glorious weather for about 10 days in a row and which meant we were able to get the haylage fields mowed, tedded, baled and wrapped and neatly stacked away ready for the winter. At the time of writing we are still waiting for another hot spell in order to get the last 5 acres of standing grass made into small baled hay.....fingers crossed. Finally too, we were able to get the sheep sheared and which was about a month later than normal.

Due to the adverse weather this year, many of the Agricultural shows (all over the country) have sadly had to be cancelled and which meant we couldn't participate in our first sheep show this year, however, there are a few more still to come during August which we are looking forward to.

We've delivered several lots of sheep to their new owners throughout the month and all are doing well. The Ryelands never fail to draw interest from the Smallholder due to their size, amiable nature and a fabulous carcase at the end of it. We've just about managed to hang onto enough lambs for the freezer and meat orders as well as selling one or two crossbred ewe lambs to homes as pet sheep.

The Swallows this year have been here in their hundreds and have nested in every barn and shed they can find access to. Endless fledgings were going on daily for several weeks and we seem to even have second clutches being hatched late into July.

Although the fruit trees have suffered with the stop/start Spring this year, the canes and rhubarb have done well, and we have started to get some Autumn raspberries as well. Also, we have had our fair share of strawberries, both wild and cultivated. The only downside has been that the birds have been beating us to the blackcurrants!

One very sad item to report is the loss of one of our farm cats "Ginger" whom we inherited from the previous owners over 4 years ago. She had to be put to sleep following a mystery break to her shoulder and which would have meant having a front leg amputated. As a 'hunter' and a cat that lived for patrolling 'her farm', we felt that being confined to an indoor life would have been something she would have hated. She is buried under the Buddleia tree at the bottom of the veggie garden.   RIP Ginger.

 

May/June

Well, we actually managed to have a few days 'Out and About' ourselves during May, thanks to having friends to visit and some lovely sunny days. We actually visited Poppit Sands which is a place lots of our holiday visitors comment on. Beautiful clean massive beach which is very dog friendly. There was an Airsea rescue practice taking place whilst we were there which was rather interesting to watch (See Photos 'Out and About' link). The following day we went to Solva which is a stunning piece of coastline (but then it all is around these parts), and we walked along part of the stunning Coastal Path before returning to a Restaurant/Cafe on the edge of the car park for a fantastic Crab Salad. From Solva we went along to Newgale which is well known by all the 'surfers' around as it's a perfect beach with ideal 'waves'.

Our next excursions later in the month took us to Caldey Island, which we have visited before but this time we had plenty of time to take in the whole little Island and walk around the island paths. We watched seals playing in the coves below and tried to identify the birds that were zooming around over our heads. Again, a stunning coastline and highly recommended as a place to visit. We then followed up by going to St.Davids and drove out to St. Justinians which is where the Lifeboat house is and also from where the Ramsey Island Boat trips depart. Having yet more fab weather the following day we went on the most amazing Sea Safari from Martins Haven and took in the bird life and wild life around the Islands of Skomer, Skokholm and even out to Grassholm. The Bird life is stunning with Puffins here there any everywhere as well as Manx Shearwaters, Guillimots, Razorbills, Kittiwakes etc. However, the most amazing spectacle was the inordinate number of Gannets nesting on the Island of Grassholm. Despite the fact it was very misty this far out (approx 8 miles), the scene was truly dramatic and as we approached the Island, the Gannets seemed to be flying with us. A fantastic 2 hour experience and we are now desperate to repeat the trip in September when the likelihood of seeing Dolphins, Porpoises, Whales and even Turtles is better.

Back on the farm, everything is looking good. The lambs are growing fast and will be weaned very soon. I've now selected my "show team" too and looking forward to having another play at showing later in the summer. At the time of writing (late June) we are still awaiting an opportunity to have the sheep sheared. It's been so damp and cold that the shearer couldn't even start his shearing rounds until very recently.

The last two goat kids have done very well on their Mum and the Male has gone off to his new home where he'll grow up to be a future Buck for his new owner and her goat owning friends in the same village, so I think he'll be very happy.

Things in the poly tunnel have been growing well despite the fact we were so late in getting the plants in. In fact, visiting friends not only supplied the plants, but also dug over the beds, added well rotted manure and then planted the plants for us - brilliant. On the subject of the garden, we have noticed that everything seems to have flowered better than ever before this year. Whether this is due to the weather or to previous pruning methods we're not sure but the displays have been truly stunning and the very old rhodedendron is a mass of gorgeous purple blooms.

 

April/May

Just WHERE did April go??? All I can remember is that it was a tad damp to say the least, but wet weather or not, the farm has to keep going regardless, as there are now lots of lambs to keep an eye on, a new litter of piglets and the last of the goat kids born.

All the lambs are growing fast and furious and their poor Mums get bashed from underneath by such an extent that their back legs come off the ground, although amazingly they never seem to mind and instantly go into their cudding mode whilst the 'children' are feeding.

Two Ryeland Ewes and their lambs at foot went off to a new home near Pencader early this month and four more ewe lambs will be making their way to the same farm at weaning time in July.

Belle the Berkshire farrowed mid April and had 10 bouncing babies as always. She and her litter were eventually moved from the farrowing barn to outside during a lovely warm dry spell at the beginning of this month. We're off to collect Heather Pig's hubby tomorrow and I'm looking forward to seeing this young chap in the flesh as he looks a stunner in his photos.

Mollie the Middle White certainly looks to have a belly full of piglets there, but she's such a HUGE sow that it's not always easy to tell - but I'm fairly confident.

We collected 100 Day Old Sasso chicks at the beginning of May, and all bar 15 have now gone off to their respective new homes to be reared on for the table. These birds prove to be a fantastic meat bird every time and a lot of local fellow smallholders are now sharing in the experience of rearing them for themselves; and I'm sure they won't be disappointed.

Hebe, my home bred Anglo Nubian has had her first kidding this year and produced two gorgeous black kids on the last day of April. The male has already been booked to go to a fabulous home not far away and to a new breeder who along with some other local AN owners decided it made sense to keep their own male to cover all those in that area. The female is staying put as she's the image of my lovely 'late' Della. I've named her 'Faithmead Deutzia' but I think she'll probably become known as 'Dolly' as her stable name.

The polytunnel is way, way behind schedule. However, it has had a good clearout thanks to the help of my lovely Mum and her gardening buddy Trish who made their annual visit here from Broadstairs in Kent to see us. We actually managed a day out and all went to Aberglasney Gardens which is a stunning place and we can highly recommend it.

On the craft front (yes I do still manage the odd bit of crafting inbetween other jobs) I managed to get to a Guild Workshop a couple of weeks ago and made a truly wacky felted scarf (see photo on Crafts page ...... ) More of these will appear in due course.......says she!!!!

All for now folks - keep coming back to visit us.

 

Late February/March

Well ....... that has got to be the busiest Spring ever. We were lambing, farrowing and kidding all at the same time, but if you've kept tabs on the photos page, you'll have seen a LOT of the results. Here we are now right at the end of March and the clocks have gone forward to Summertime and the weather ......... well, the weather has been blissfully warm, dry, sunny and just glorious, and a bit too good to be true.

All the kids have now gone to their new homes across the country (including Yorkshire and Berkshire) and just one more goat to kid, who is due at the beginning of May. All the current weaner piglets have also gone to their new homes and all the lambs are bouncing around in the sunshine. We've just got two Zwarble xbreds to lamb, who aren't due until mid April time. Otherwise our crop of Ryeland and Greyface Dartmoors has been very good this year. We've got a bit more length of leg in the White Ryelands which is what we wanted, although not enough with dark ears ...... so that's the next challenge. The Darts are ....... just ...... gorgeous in every way and nothing to adjust on them as far as I can tell, although I haven't as yet checked mouths.

The garden has been ablaze with yellow daffodils and Derek has been busy attempting to do some hedgelaying ..... looks good so far. Lots and lots of work to do out there and so when we're bored we'll go and attack it. "Bored"? Did I say bored????? As if!

During all of the above, Wesley has once more gone on holiday to yet another 'wife'!

 

Late January/February

Late January saw about 4" snow which stayed with us for a number of days, and also coincided with Jemini, one of our Anglo-Nubian goats, producing a very large male kid, which was somewhat disappointing as I was really hoping for a female.

However, this kid is a stunner, has excellent breed lines and milking line figures and so once he was disbudded, advertised him as a future buck. He was snapped up almost immediately by someone not far away and who happened to be looking for just the chap. Therefore 'Orpheus' has found a wonderful new home although he won't be moving until about mid March due to the fact that I just don't have time to take over milking his mother until then. A very happy outcome.

Tutti and Spring are due early March and so all those fingers are crossed once again for a female....or two.....or three..

Wesley the boar continues to travel the county and is currently serving a gilt near Cilgerran. At the time of writing (mid Feb), all but 2 or 3 of the piglets (currently 17 in total) are booked either as weaners or for meat order. All are now outdoors having great fun chasing each other up and down the enclosures and generally getting up to mischief!

Mollie the Middle White is once more ensconsed inthe barn and has her old flame 'Bill' come to stay for a few weeks. Mollie is the only pig who actually prefers to be in the barn in this weather, than outside.

All the in-lamb ewes are in the barn and currently 3 of the Greyface Dartmoors have lambed 2 ram lambs and 2 gimmer lambs between them and so we're very pleased with that result so far. The Ryelands are taking their time though and although huge, are happily just sitting around, cudding!

 

January

January has started as wet as the last two months, and still very mild. However, on the second day we actually have some sun and blue skies appearing, and to add to this, Jeni, one of our Anglo-Nubian goats has produced 2 stunning male kids.

Blue skies and frosty mornings have greeted us for a few days now, which makes a huge difference to us and the animals. Ground hardened up reasonably and so much better to be able to walk on top rather than slop through mud.

Spotty farrowed mid month and had a wonderful litter of 14 although 3 are rather on the small side, but she's an excellent Mum as always and the piglets are thriving. The litter was so large that we had to put up two lamps in order for them all to be able to fit underneath, otherwise they were building themselves into a pyramid shape which wasn't good for the ones on the bottom of the stack. We have several bookings for Old Spot weaners in March but there are still about 5 that will be available.

Belle one of our Berkshire Sows is coming home this week (19th) and is in pig to one of the 'FairOaks' boars again. Mollie the Middle White is due to have her hubby come stay in a couple of weeks too and Wesley our Old Spot Boar is due home at the end of the month too, so we're going to have a Full House for a few weeks.

Jeni's two male kids have been disbudded and castrated and are doing really well. Jeni's mother Jemini is due to kid next around 23rd January.