Agricultre Category

  • New Hens

    Adventures, Agricultre, Chickens, eggsComments (1)

    On July 10, 2016 • By

    A little under two years ago, I travelled the length of Scotland in a hire van to collect 320 hens. This week, these hens have all gone, and have been replaced by 300 new ones.

    The past week has been hectic. I decided to rehome the old hens, rather than cull them all, because even though a two year old hen isn’t commercially viable any more, she lays enough to keep a family in eggs.  Production for me recently was at about 30% of what it was last spring – with feed costs the same – so I have been eagerly awaiting this new batch.  I ordered them over the winter, from Donald ‘The Hen’ in Skye, and he delivered them to my door.

    The old hens left during the week, with folk coming in their droves to rehome them.  Many took 4-6, while some took 10-30.  I didn’t ask for any payment for the hens, I was just wanting them gone.  I did have to cull some, though.  It wasn’t something I was particularly keen on doing, but there were about 30-40 that couldn’t be rehomed, for one reason or another.  Myself and Innes did that on Thursday night.

    Saturday was a really strange day.  The hen house was eerily quiet, with only a handful of birds left. That didn’t take long to change though!  The new ones arrived around 2.45pm, and by 4 they were all in their new home.

    Because the hen house is a hundred metres off the road, we had to transport the crates using my pickup. Uisdean here came to give me a hand.

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    Myself and Uisdean ferried them to the hen house, while Donald unloaded them.  It was smooth and easy, so I was quite happy with how it all went.

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    That’s them all inside, bunched up in the corner.  Very nervous in their new surroundings, I will have to get them used to me going in and out, and also Bud being amongst them! He comes with me every time I go up there, so the sooner they get used to him, the better.

    These birds are around 17.5 weeks old, so should start laying in the next 2 weeks or so.  I reckon it’ll be around a month before I have decent sized eggs (pullet eggs are very small) but it’ll be full steam ahead then!

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  • Lamb meat boxes

    Adventures, AgricultreComments (4)

    On January 24, 2016 • By

    Who fancies some Air An Lot lamb?

    Over the past few years, I have sold some lamb meat boxes locally, but this year I am looking to expand.  I am offering to deliver lamb boxes to Inverness or Glasgow.  Obviously it is months away and the lambs are still to be born, but I hope to get some orders in advance, to allow me to plan a trip!

    If you are interested and want to find out more, please drop me an email info@airanlot.com

     

     

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  • A Boaring Day

    Adventures, Agricultre, birth, PigsComments (0)

    On January 1, 2016 • By

    I have had pigs, on and off, over the past 6 years. Usually just weaners for the freezer, but over the past year I have been gearing up to having my own breeding stock.

    I kept two females that were born in spring 2014 and added a 4 year old sow that was free to a good home in spring 2015. Because of the restricted opening of our slaughterhouse (Aug-Dec) I wanted to have any piglets that would be ready to go in the autumn, so I have held off with a boar until now.

    I have been on the lookout for a boar for a couple of months, and had some options, but then a 3 year old Gloucester Old Spot became available for sale locally this week, and I was fortunate enough to get in there first.

    I saw him yesterday (Hogmanay) and went to pick him up today. This wasn’t as straightforward as I had hoped. The boar isn’t keen on trailers and it took us around an hour to get him in!

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    We had taken the roof off the trailer, to encourage him in, only for him to jump straight back out!!

    Take 2 wasn’t too bad, but this time we left one of the sows that was with him in the trailer, until we got the roof on. We had to strap it down as well, as he kept lifting it!

    Anyway, it was a 10/15 minute drive home from Borve, and he went straight in with my own pigs.  It didn’t take him very long to settle in. Less than 5 minutes, in fact….

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    I know there will be a certain Councillor in Callanish that will appreciate that photo!

    That should mean piglets in 3 months, 3 weeks and 3 days, from 1st January, so around 25th April, I think.  There are another 2 sows in with them too, which will come into season over the next 3 weeks.

    Yesterday, I prepared extra sleeping accommodation for the boar. We’ll see how he takes to it. My neighbour James came down with his chainsaw to cut a doorway in an old oil tank. All systems go now!

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  • ‘An Lot’

    Adventures, Agricultre, birth, Chickens, Freelance PiecesComments (2)

    On December 3, 2015 • By

    Having started filming 16 months ago, we’re now just a couple of days away from the first airing of ‘An Lot’.  I am excited, and also quite anxious. I’m more than comfortable in front of the camera, although this is a little different.  Usually, I am talking about a third party, but not this time.  This time I am opening myself up to the big bad world!

    To date, I have seen (and added my voice to) the first four episodes.  The final two will be completed on Monday, the same day the first one is broadcast.  I am delighted with how they have come together; Director Neil and Editor Paul have done a power of work, while locked away in a studio for the past couple of months.  I think I come across as myself, which is one of the things that I was hoping for, and I feel the series gives you a true taste of what crofting is like; full of highs and lows, not just a romantic image.

    Filming started in July 2014 and follows the arrival of the 300 chickens, ups and downs of the sheep, my family and has plenty laughs. I think the parts with Innes and Martin will make quite a few of you laugh!

    Anyway, the series starts on Monday at 8.30 on BBC Alba.  You can get more info on the BBC website – or you can ask me!  Hope you watch and I hope you enjoy!

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  • Lambing Update

    Agricultre, birth, Lambs, SheepComments (0)

    On April 12, 2015 • By

    It’s Sunday afternoon and I am taking a much needed break from lambing. This is the most sheep I have lambed in a single year, and it has been tough.

    I’m going to write several blog posts today, about some of the ups and downs of lambing so far. This is as much for myself as it is for anyone who reads the blog! I’ve found it very useful, going back and reading over posts, several months later.

    To date, I am almost two-thirds of the way through lambing. Still a way to go!

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  • First in the queue

    Agricultre, Chickens, SheepComments (0)

    On February 28, 2015 • By

    How to make sure you get your fill

    Tired yet satisfied after getting everything done today. The ground is so much wetter than it has been at any point this winter. Everywhere is waterlogged – and slippery!

    I wasn’t due to clean out the hen house until Monday, but had to do it early as it was so mucky. Hebs are staying inside and when they do go out, they take mud back in with them!

    That’s me for the weekend now, apart from feeding the sheep tomorrow. I need a rest!

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  • Handy Quad

    AgricultreComments (0)

    On February 22, 2015 • By

    I’ve only had a quad for a few months, and I honestly don’t know how I survived without it before!

    It’s been invaluable, particularly at this time of year when the hen house has to be kicked out regularly and sheep need feeding!

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  • Highlights

    Adventures, Agricultre, Cats, Chickens, Lambs, SheepComments (2)

    On February 22, 2015 • By

    I am going to post a selection of my favourite photos from the last month or so. I can’t wait for spring, the extra hours of daylight will be a big help – as will some grass growing!

    Gizmo wanting in

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    Returning a lost ewe to the flock

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    More repairs to the portacabin. Still awaiting payout from my insurer.

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    Hungry Hogg

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    Swollen eye

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    A couple of visitors

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  • Scanning

    Agricultre, Lambs, SheepComments (0)

    On February 22, 2015 • By

    I’ve been a little light on posts here recently, mainly due to them taking a little longer to write, and time isn’t something I have a lot spare of!

    Things have been very busy since I started selling the eggs but that’s not what this is about, this is about scanning!

    A couple of years ago, I posted about an extremely poor scanning and there you can see pictures of how it’s all done. We have the same setup every year, but fortunately this year was a little better for me.

    Scanning is arranged by the Lewis & Harris Sheep Producers Association, of which I am a member. The scanner comes over from Aberdeenshire and blitzes 7,000+ sheep in a week. At around 75p (ballpark figure, not sure what it is this year) per sheep, that’s a profitable week for a scanner!

    My sheep went through & I had mixed results. Most of it was ok, but I was very disappointed that 3 of my best sheep were empty. I had put them to the Zwartble ram lamb, as a wee experiment, but 3 of the 5 he had were empty. It’ll be interesting to see if he left anything in the other two, or if it was the work of the other rams that covered him.

    I had results of 130%, which is ok, although I’d rather closer to 150. What I mean by percentages is that 130 = 13 lambs out of every 10 sheep.

    I have now started feeding, all in anticipation of lambing starting in the last week of March – I can’t wait!

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  • Entrails

    Agricultre, Chickens, death, PoultryComments (6)

    On January 26, 2015 • By

    Don’t look any further if you are squeamish or easily offended.

    I was cleaning out the hen house earlier today and was just spreading the new wood shavings when I noticed a hen dragging something behind her. Her intestine….

    The other hens were pecking away as I lifted her up, and the entrails, and took her down to the barn. Unfortunately it was a total mess around the rear, so I culled her.

    Not nice. Anyone know what causes this?

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