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Wasi and June, chopping logs and an extra sheep... : Latest blogs from @SoilAssociation

Wasi and June, chopping logs and an extra sheep...

Emma Heseltine - 15 January 2012

Wasi’s calf June is looking a bit on the skinny side. We have been watching her for a few days now and suspect that she is not getting milk. It's time to intervene, we get Wasi and June out to Tarraby and load them up to take to Wallace Field where hopefully we can feed her up a bit. What we need (and don’t have) is a calf creep, which is a feeder which will allow June in to get to the food, but that is too small for Wasi.

We put our heads together and have a scrounge around for materials. Half a wooden crate, a bent metal hurdle, some pallets, fence posts and a whole lot of baler twine; an idea is forming. After some debate and wielding of the maul we have prototype one. The crate on its side against the fence is high enough to allow June in but thin enough to stop the gigantic-horned Wasi in, the pallet and hurdle make a funnel held with fence posts. Now to test, add some hay and see if Wasi can get in. Clearly too crafty for us, she manages to manoeuvre her horns through the gap in the fence and get the hay.

Back on the scrounge we come up with some more pallets to tie to the fence, make the creep a little thinner and block the hole in the fence. Prototype two is almost a success; Wasi can’t get in but can certainly block the entrance. The trick is to give her some food on the other side of the creep, giving June a chance to get in. Now we just have to convince June that wheat is good and we will be well away. We tie a bucket to the inside back wall and fill it with wheat, hopefully she will get the idea.

There is a tree down at Willowford. A huge sycamore has come down by the river and we could do with chopping it up and using it for the wood burner before it gets washed away, which has happened before. So we take the chainsaw, tractor and log splitter down to the river. Liam gets to the task of carving up the trunks and I skirt the edges clearing the smaller branches with an axe, making a big bonfire pile.

Once there are some slices I use the log splitter to chop them into smaller manageable chunks. Its hard wood so makes an incredibly satisfying crack when it splits. We soon have a fairly efficient system going on and a huge pile of logs mounts up. There are easily a couple of big trailers full which will keep the farm warm for a good while. Storms can be useful sometimes.

There is an extra sheep at Wallace field. I’ve to get the lambs in, weigh them and pick out three fit ones for the next market. We have a little detour getting them in, Trim is a one woman dog and will not listen to me so disrupts the herding process somewhat. Eventually Skye, with a little help from me, gets them into the pen. There should be 26 but a bright white face catches my eye, there are 27.

Our lambs are all Mule cross Suffolk so are black faced and black legged, there is a mutton ewe in with this group but she is a Mule with the black and white face of her Swaledale mother. I catch the interloper, she is a Cheviot I think belonging to a neighbour. She has a tag and I consult the boss who gives me a number for the neighbour, we don’t want her hanging around in our flock any longer than necessary.

Promptly a Landover appears from over the hill and we pop her in the back to return to her rightful flock. Profuse apologies are offered, but it’s a fact that sheep are determined to be where they are not supposed to be, it can’t be helped and there’s no harm done.

Emma completed a degree in Creative Imaging at Huddersfield University before working for a photography studio as an editor. Taking a break from the office world she worked in outdoor education for several years, climbing, abseiling, shooting, trampolining and even life-guarding with children of all ages. When Emma found out about the apprenticeship scheme with the Soil Association it seemed the perfect chance to do something worthwhile and fulfilling. After much searching and badgering farms in the North of England she found a position with Hadrian Organics and started in July 2011. So far it is living up to her expectations, every day is a new challenge and every day is different.

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