Spring is here. 

Sorry for the delay ! 

Back to provide a brief update on the farm… We have been very busy hence the huge delay of writing the blog. 

The caravan has now been transformed. We removed the two bedrooms and have opened up the space for a far more useful lunch and recreation area. But the most impressive change is the out side. 

    I commissioned a grafitti artist to decorate the van with a English countryside theme.  Far more interesting and looks much better in the yard.   

   The secret garden is developing nicely.  With our Monday Carefarmers we built a new chicken enclosure,   

and our Carefarmers that join us through the rest of the week have been working hard on the landscaping of the area. 

  
We have built a variety of bits so far …. Steps with a willow handrail, a large wormery and raised planters. 

   
   
The transformation is wonderful. 

Knight farm is really coming to life ­čśâ­čî┐­čîż

The not so ‘secret’ garden

   
This is the ‘before’ photo of what we refer to as our ‘Secret Garden’. A space we set aside to create a nature conservation and sensory setting for our Special needs daycare clients. 

With a lot of help from Perdy, our friendly large Black Sow, the area has been cleared ready to start designing and planning!  

 
We now have the mamouth task of deciding how to design the area, now it is cleared you can really see the size we have to ‘play’ with. 

  
We are collecting ideas from the Internet and involving our daycare service users in the design and creation too. 

Our aim is to create areas benefitting everyone as all of our clients have different needs and passions. 

I am currently searching for items old and new to help create a musical  area, a bug hotel and a relaxation zone…. These are just a few as things like a hedgehog home, dormouse and butterfly boxes even a few raised planters for herb gardening are in my thoughts. 

  
Pictures from Pinterest  
If anyone can help with materials we would all be so grateful. As the saying goes ‘one mans trash is another mans treasure’!  We want to make this area as magical as possible for everyone to enjoy…. Perhaps even the odd school visit! 

Items we are hunting for : 

  • Large bamboo pipe
  • Clear Perspex pipe approx 30cm diameter 1.5m tall 
  • Old bricks 
  • Long lengths of thick rope – neutral colour 
  • Metal dustbin lid
  • Wooden barrels 
  • Clay pipes 
  • Pine cones (lots ) 

Can you help? 

 New adventures this Spring 

Tags

, , ,

Spring time and the fields are now teaming with lovely bouncy lambs!!  We had rather a large loss this year but now the sun is shining things can surely only improve!   

 

 

Most recently we have been working at setting up Falconry experience days and Hawk walks here at Knight farm.  A chance to enjoy the beauty of the farm, see, hold and fly wonderful birds of prey. 

falconry, devon

photo copyright Knightfarm

  
It is proving very popular. 

For some Easter fun, we ran a nature hunt and A Wild animal experience for children, a busy weekend but worth it for all the lovely smiles!! 

 

knigh farm falconry devon

photo copyright Knightfarm

  
   

We are very excited for more fun like this over the summer! Knight Farm is very busy with lots of projects at the moment.  Keep up with us on Facebook, Twitter (@Knightfarming) and Instagram. #knightfarmdevon

knight farm devon falconry

photo copyright Knightfarm

Black sheep of the family 

Tags

, , , ,

Well who would have thought it….

The crazy world of Genetics has provided a shock here at Knightfarm. 

Yesterday morning one of out Registered Pedigree Lleyn Ewes gave birth to two lovely white lambs… We then waited for the third as we knew she was expecting three. 

Shocker…, she had a black lamb. Stunning ram lamb, he is truly gorgeous, deep dark colour and is fitting fit. Everything you would want in a pedigree ram lamb for potential to breed…. 

´╗┐

The sire was a registered pedigree Llyen, a breed known for their white fleeces and faces. Our deer fencing ensures no rogues could have entered so we are positive of the sire!  No ‘postman’ scenario here !!! 

Sadly he doesn’t fit with what we need so will be sold. 

Me vs Ewe….┬á

Tags

, , , , ,

What a day… Lambing is in full swing. And as with many things everything is easier if you have a helping hand. Luke’s two hands sometimes just aren’t enough. I am getting involved, sometimes just preparing milk other times more. Today was a ‘more’ day! 

This morning we found a lamb, born in the early hours, when out checking at 6am.  A seemingly healthy lamb, at least at first.  It turned out the ewe had chosen the most exposed spot possible to give birth and the lamb was really cold. Slowly getting more unresponsive despite being moved and penned up we had to intervene and get warming it up. 

A little panic but we got there in the end! My hot water bottle and a towel, improvisation!! Whilst Luke was busy with more ewes & general farm work, I was sourcing a Heat lamp. Not easy on a Sunday, most agricultural shops are closed….  Here comes Facebook to the rescue! Who would have thought …. The agricultural community use social media technology … I was somewhat surprised too ­čśë !!! Joking aside …. I managed to find a heat lamp and shoot off to pick it up with both boys in tow! 

On return to the farm,  whilst Luke set up the heat lamp, another ewe had lambed, this time a triple.  Another time we were to intervene to get the best possible result for our mothering ewes. We took one of the triplets away from the mother and rubbed the afterbirth of the ewe that lambed earlier all over this new lamb.  

The new triplet lamb was made to smell like the ‘adoption’  ewe, the mum of the ‘cold’ lamb.We did this as we were worried the ‘cold’ lamb might not make it so rather than rear a strong triplet lamb ourselves it is better for many reasons if reared by a ewe.   The ‘cold’ lamb was still not doing well so we put him in the ‘orphan lamb pen’ still under the heat lamp.  Mother and new baby could now bond… 

´╗┐´╗┐

´╗┐

Next Walk the dogs, lunch, and ‘cup’ tea (a must for farmers- I’m learning!) then time for the rugby – a must in this household. Our two year old and 9 month old  both having naps so it’s 5 mins peace!!! Ahhhhh 

Oh how mistaken I was, popped to the barn (well I went to get milk from daycare caravan, but thought I’d have a peek) and there was another double and a single both just lambed….  Here we go AGAIN! 

Luke had to go, whilst he penned up the Double I had to run back in as the baby was awake. I strapped the baby in the the sling on to my back and hurried back outside to help. Thank heavens for my Ergo baby carrier… I love it!  

Time for yet another adoption process. This time for the ‘cold’ lamb.  For him to have the best chance we wanted to get him on to a ewe. Luke had collected the juices from the after birth of the ewe with a single lamb. I collected the ‘cold’ lamb… Now rather perky & much warmer which was a great sign. I stood by the pen with the lamb and Luke had to get dirty. Putting his hand back inside the ewe he got her to push, fooling her into thinking she was having a second lamb. A few pushes later I passed the lamb to Luke covered in the fresh afterbirth, he then moved it round from her back end to the front with her ‘first’ lamb.   Quickly the ewe was up and cleaning it….. Fingers crossed warmth and a mum would help him to continue to improve. 

The baby … Rex… On my back didn’t stop gurgling the whole time…. He’ll be a pro in lambing by the time he is One if I have to carry on like this.  Since all of this a few more have lambed ….. At this rate we will be finished a lot sooner than expected! 

Poor ‘cold’ lamb was not improving as we hoped so this evening he has been brought in to be nursed… After all a ‘farm’house needs a few animals to be reared in it otherwise it is just a ‘house’ surely?!! 

´╗┐´╗┐

Pet lamb any one?? 

Charcuterie- home trial.. 

Tags

, , , , , ,

´╗┐

Here is the result of my first  charcuterie experiment!! Knightfarm Lamb! Lets called in Lamcetta! 

Very pleased, however, it is definitely an acquired taste and the discerning meat lover would probably be very happy !!! 

It is an intensified flavour; You only need a little, but on a warm sunny day with fresh bread, olives and local cheeses I am sure it will be great for a lovely lunch. 

I will start my salami’s and other items soon now I am happy I have an idea of what I am doing!! 

It’s a shame Parma ham takes nearly two years to cure as I would love to make one of them!!!! Start small …. maybe when I have a bit more practice!!!!! 

Lambing live 

Well almost, didn’t have a chance to video the birth as she popped them out very quickly unassisted as we were checking the others, doing food & water! 

Here are two ‘freshly’ born Twin Lleyn Lambs. Just popping them in to a pen. 

Ah ok it won’t let me post a video?! ´╗┐

Here is a pic, will post the video to our facebook page…  Knightfarm facebook ´╗┐

Lambing time 

Tags

, ,

T’is the season to be busy!! 

Our ewes have started to lamb… Over the next 5 weeks approximately 140 ewes will be giving birth to what we can only hope will be over 200 healthy lambs. 

With our recent troubles, the next few weeks are making us feel rather apprehensive as to how it will go. 

Monday night in the early hours our first ewe, a mule expecting triplets, started to Lamb. A little early so we were rather worried it was another abortion but only a few days early we had to treat it as a normal birth and hope the lambs were alive. Luke was out in the barn to assist the ewe, I was snuggled up in my bed poorly with my poorly 2 yr old snuggled next to me! 

The first lamb presented badly,and after a difficult assist Luke managed to lamb all three. All alive but small & weak! As triplets, they were all given collostrum and a shot of ‘kick start’ in an effort to give them a fighting chance, the ewe had a good udder and all three drank. At 4am Luke finally got to bed. Sadly when he went back out at 7am to check and do the farm rounds, one of the lambs had died, a few hours later another died. A very depressing result but nature I suppose! 

Sheep never seem keen on living!! 

Today, the next ewe one of our lovely pedigree lleyns, gave birth to two lovely lambs totally unassisted. A ram and a ewe lamb!! All being well the ewe lamb will be kept to grow our flock. This is known as a ‘replacement’.

´╗┐´╗┐

Checked regularly throughout the day, I can report the last remaining lamb with the mule and these two are so far doing well… 

I hope to share more good news soon! 

Tough ‘unknowns’

Tags

, , , ,

Farming really sucks sometimes… The unpredictable uk weather, the long unforgiving hours, even the livestock.

A saying I have become very familiar with is “where there is livestock, there is dead stock”.

This year is tough already. We are due to start Lambing in approximately 2 weeks, however in the past week we have already had three abortions all from ewes expecting doubles which is a large loss!!

The first abortion was a shock, although some loss is expected it is not so normal to get abortions at this late stage of pregnancy. Research suggested a high possibility of a bacterial issue. Luke and I are keen to protect our flock in every way we can, but both of us would still consider ourselves novices… Definitely me!! I bring out my books and google to start swatting trying to diagnose any issue.

As our expectant ewes have now been brought in to our barn, it was of utmost importance the aborting ewe was removed and isolated from the others, the aborted lamb bagged along with any after birth. The straw bedding was also removed and burned incase the reason was bacterial.

IMG_2954

There are a few infectious diseases in sheep. Infectious causes of abortion are most common after day 100 of pregnancy. While sporadic losses are expected, a loss of over 2% is suggestive of an infectious cause. At 2 ewes aborting within 2 days we were were heading towards the 2% before lambing begun…. Investigation was imperative.

Luckily locally there is a diagnostic laboratory, we took a dead lamb and the fresh afterbirth to be tested. Very swiftly we were called to only hear the result we dreaded…. Our ewe was positive for something called enzootic abortion of ewes (EAE). Who knows when we got it as we have bought in ewes this year but it could have been latent in some of the ones from the year before??!

We have acted quickly and all of our ewes have had antibiotics prescribed by our vet. We can only hope this will help but we had another abortion occur today. We know fellow farmers who have suffered huge losses up to 80% which such infections. These are known as ‘abortion storms’.

It is thought that these infections are the cause of 70% of abortions in the UK. So we are not alone! Even though short term this is likely to be devastating, long term with a closed flock we hope to build an immunity to this disease and others like it. Ultimately we can only hope to end up with a very strong healthy flock.

A touch of Italy?

Tags

, , , , , , ,

As if we don ‘t diversify enough now it’s time for a touch of Italy. After all I have family enjoying the delights of antipasti in Sicily at the moment… What better inspiration than photos of tasty treats appearing on the social network that is Facebook!!

Many will tell you I am a huge mix of my Mother AND Father… On this occasion my continual need to learn I think is a ‘Mother’ trait.
My husband and I both love our various Italian cold meats but have never tried cured Lamb, so now we are having a go at the age old tradition for preserving meat known as charcuterie. Time for dry curing some of our tasty lamb. They say only the best quality lamb should be cured so feeling very happy with the quality of our lamb I am happy to have a go!

I had purchased my curing salt in advance as I have planned on doing this for a while. Today with Lamb fresh back from the butcher I was ready to get started.

So my project … Lamb pancetta!!

Charcuterie involves the correct mixtures of Salt with a blend of sugar, herbs and spices. I started with a 800g breast of lamb, and my cure mix I carefully measured out based on the weight of the meat. My chosen mix included marjoram & basil! Fingers crossed it will be nice!

IMG_2860

The cure was then rubbed all over the meat in to every crevice, I re rolled the breast and popped in to an air tight pot to be refrigerated to Cure. As it is not as thick as pork (requiring 7-10 days) I will leave it to cure for 3-4 days until it is firm thoroughout.

I will be turning the meat once a day whilst curing.

I will report the next stage soon…..

IMG_2861