It has been a really busy week as Als and I have been working on the final pages of the new book, Tummy Trouble at Roberts Farm, as well as planning our launch. I know I promised a sneak preview of the story last week but we have made some final adjustments to the artwork so it has set us back a week but trust me, they are worth the wait!
It’s been an exciting few days at the farm. As the piglets are now seven weeks old it is weaning time - this is when they stop having Pokey's milk and move to having only pig nuts. Consequently, last Friday Pokey had to say her final farewells to her eight little piggies and move back up to the top field with Chewey. She is a great mummy but never seems bothered when she has to leave them!
Five of the piglets had already been moved the day before so now we only have three little boys left, which is very sad! They will be joining their sisters in two weeks time at the lovely farm down the road. The farmer who will be looking after them has a friend who is a cheese maker. The main bi-product of cheese production is whey, and instead of throwing it all away, the cheese maker brings it to the farm and it is given to the pigs that adore it! Everyone’s a winner!
Pokey’s trip up to the top field was very straight forward although half way up she did look rather tired (watch the video clip above)! She was definitely pleased to see Chewey and be back in the great outdoors.
To make the last three piggies feel more at home with out their mummy, I made them a nest in the straw and put a big black bucket into the sty which they seemed to like playing with. Over the weekend they were constantly entertained by my youngest daughter and her friend Rueben, who played in the straw with them for ages, setting up piglet obstacle courses using pignuts!
Apparently the sun is going to come out this week, just in time for my gorgeous niece’s naming ceremony on Saturday so fingers crossed!
After nine days away it was great to get back to the farm and see Pokey and the piglets. As I was running late, I was greeted by four cats that were eagerly waiting their breakfast. It is such a shame they are so feral as I would love to take a couple of them home with me. However, as we found out a few months ago, they might look pretty but they fight dirty and there is no way they are letting anyone get too close!
The piglets are now six weeks old and have grown an enormous amount since I have been away. They are now eating solid food as well as suckling milk from Pokey. I bought down a bag of treats for them, including jam sandwiches that proved very popular! In a weeks time five of them will be going to new homes and Pokey will be able to return to the top fields to be with her boyfriend Chewey, who will be extremely pleased to see her.
Just before leaving the yard I put an old hay bale into the sty for the piglets to play with (see video above). I cannot tell you how much fun they had, tearing it to pieces and rolling around in it. If only such simple things in life would create so much happiness for all of us - the world would certainly be a much better place.
As promised, I will be posting up some sneak preview illustrations of the new book by the end of the week so make sure you keep watching.
I hope you all had a good half term. It looks like our summer is finally here and just in time for our arrival back from France, where I have been on holiday with my family for the last week. Unfortunately we were not so lucky with the weather whilst we were away. We went to the Dordogne, which is renown for its stunning scenery, chateaus and excellent food and wine, but all we saw for the first four days was torrential rain! In true British fashion we made the most of it and had a wonderful time.
I have bought a bit of France back with me in the form of a video clip of a lovely hotel we stayed in for one night, which had a small farm. On the farm they had cows, chickens, goats, horses and were awaiting the arrival of two pigs, which we didn't get to meet, but whose prime use will be to eat the scraps from the restaurant! Lucky pigs as the restaurant looked very nice!
I will be heading back to Roberts Farm tomorrow to see how the piglets, Bagel and Bo are getting on, plus I am hoping to post some of the illustrations of the new book, Tummy Trouble at Roberts Farm, onto the site later in the week so make sure you keep watching!
Is it just my family or does there seem to have been a lot of sickness bugs over the last six months? Yet again, I have spent three days nursing my eldest whom I am pleased to say has finally gone back to school. No doubt the other two will come down with the same thing just in time for half term! The joys of parenting!
Saying that, being stuck in the house for a few days has had its benefits and I am pleased to say that Als and I are really cracking on with the next book, Tummy Trouble at Roberts Farm. Next week I will be posting up a few of the pages as a sneaky preview so make sure you keep watching. Tummy Trouble is all about Cassidy, a little grey Welsh Mountain pony, who lives in the barn at Roberts Farm and thinks about nothing else apart from his tummy! He can’t believe his luck when he meets a sneaky weasel that shows him to a place where he can eat all his favourite sweet treats, whenever he wants! Unfortunately he soon finds out that there is a price to pay! The focus of the story is around healthy eating and exercise and there is a hidden treat within the book that shows just how fun exercise can be!
Back to the farm, it seems my sister came to her senses and decided to take her giant rabbits to the school fete instead of the piglets - a wise choice although it would have been great to be able to video the chaos! The piglets are getting bigger and bigger by the day and are now very interested in solid food (watch the video above). We ended up having to board up the front of the gate to their sty as they all managed to escape yet again and ended up on the neighbours vegetable patch...not a good thing I can tell you!
As the weather is finally warming up, all the sheep in our area are being sheared (this is when their wool is shaved off) so I am hoping to be able to video that next week. I'll also give you an update on Jeremy the calf and the orphan lambs down at East Meon.
Have a good week.
There hasn't been much going on down at the farm this week. The piglets are now nearly three weeks old and getting bigger and bigger by the day! Pokey is doing an excellent job of feeding and caring for them. We thought their tummy's were finally too big to allow them to escape through the bars of the gate of their sty, but it turns out they can just about squeeze through if they turn their bodies sideways! My sister is taking three of them along to her children's school fete on Saturday so I am hoping I will be able to go along too and see how she gets along! I have a feeling it could be complete chaos so worth a watch next week!
Bagel, the new horse, is doing really well. As he hadn't been ridden for over a year when he arrived at the yard it is really important that he is bought back into work very slowly. For the last week he has just been taken up the road, walking at a gentle pace, which will gradually improve his fitness levels. In the next week or so he can start doing a bit of trot work and hopefully by the middle of July he will be a lot stronger and capable of hacking out further, and going faster.
Chewey, the boar, is very happy back up in the top fields although I know he will be missing Pokey. Not long until they can be reunited!
Have a good weekend and make sure you watch next week to see how the piglets got on at the school fete!
It's been a busy week at the farm. As the weather has finally warmed up it was time to move Chewey back up to the top fields. He was miserable all alone at the end of the yard so although he won't have any company quite yet, there is plenty of space for him to roam about up there and more importantly, bask in the spring sunshine. In a few weeks time, when the piglets are weaned off Pokey, she will join him too.
On Wednesday I finally managed to get down to the yard to see how the new piglets are getting on. It always amazes me how quickly they grow and after ten days, they are now extremely playful and full of mischief! They are already showing all the signs of being troublemakers especially as they have worked out how to get through the gate and access the yard. Consequently, we are struggling to get Bo to go any where near the yard area as although he is over his fear of Pokey and Chewey (who are both enormous), it seems tiny little piglets are terrifying! The piglets are literally the size of one of his hooves - he needs to toughen up!
Our new addition, Bagel, is doing very well. My sister put a saddle on him this week for the first time since his arrival, and rode him up the road with Bo and I. He was the perfect gentleman and didn't put a hoof wrong, even though it was very windy. He really is a very gentle and loving horse and I am looking forward to spending more time with him.
Have a wonderful weekend.
It's not been the best week. My youngest has been very poorly with tonsillitis so we have both suffered a few sleepless nights. I am pleased to say she is on the mend and back to her cheeky self! However it has meant I have not been down to the yard since last Tuesday to see the new piglets. Unfortunately one of the nine did not make it but my sister tells me the other eight are doing really well and are already up to mischief. I will be down there tomorrow with my video camera.
Ok, so finally it's time to introduce our new member to the yard - Bagel! Bagel is an ex racehorse and he is absolutely gorgeous!! He is undoubtedly the most cuddly, affectionate horse I have ever come across and just wants to be given attention. He is amazing with the children, especially as they usually take him lots of carrots to eat!
He arrived at the yard 10 days ago and straight away seemed very comfortable in his new home (watch the video above). Our main concern was how he would react with the pigs, as most horses are terrified of them. We have been told that historically pigs in the wild use to eat horses so you can understand why! However Bagel did not bat an eye lid, although we have since found out that he use to live in a field right next to an enormous pig and would regularly been seen with his head bent over the gate, checking it out! So one less worry for us!
As Bagel is only four and has not been ridden for about a year, Lara will need to start working him very gradually. Infact, as he has not had someone on his back for such a long time, we are not sure what he will do when she gets on him so rather her then me! I will make sure I have the video in hand so you can see the outcome!
Enjoy the rest of the bank holiday weekend - amazingly, the sun is shining!
What an amazing start to the week. Not only is the sun shining but we arrived at the yard yesterday morning to find Pokey nestled up with nine little spotty piglets!
On Friday we knew the piglets were due any day as Pokey's teats were leaking droplets of milk. This shows that her body is getting ready to feed her new babies. As she shares a sty with Chewey she was moved to the large stable at the end of the yard. However, this made her very unhappy and boy did she let us know about it! Not only did she empty out her large water trough three times, even though we tried to weigh it down with bricks, she also trashed her bed of straw and even managed to destroy a hosepipe that was poking through the gate. It was decided that to calm her down we would move her back in with Chewey and move him out the next day instead.
It is now day two and all the piglets seemed to have settled in to their new home. One of them only seems to have a couple of spots so we have decided to call it Charlie Pig
. Pokey is doing a great job, especially as it is chilly at night so it is important she helps them stay nice and warm. If you watch the video clip you will see how she makes a cosy nest using her snout.
With the sudden birth of the piglets I will now be introducing our other new arrival to the yard later on in the week so make sure you stay posted!
Hurray, the sun has finally arrived. I even wore shorts and flip-flops yesterday!
Down at the farm, Chewey and Pokey have spent the last couple of days stretched out sunbathing! I popped down yesterday lunchtime and was actually quite concerned about Chewey as even when I went into his sty he did not move an inch. It turns out he was just in a really deep sleep, basking in the sun, although as soon as he noticed I had birthday cake (left over from Granny's party the day before) he was up in a flash!
It has been a very exciting week for the farm as we have a new addition called Bagel but I will introduce him to you early next week.
Back at South Farm, Tina and Matts farm in East Meon, I have two more animals I would like you to meet following our visit last Sunday. Jeremy the calf and his room mate, King Julian who is a ram (a ram is a male sheep).
Poor Jeremy's mummy died when he was just a week old so like the orphan lambs, he is also being hand reared. The first few weeks of his life were very tough for him, especially as it was so cold, and it was touch and go as to whether he would make it or not. They even dressed him in one of Matt's zip up fleece tops to try and keep him warm! It clearly did the trick as he is now doing really well and was very pleased to see us for his tea! (See video above).
He is fed on large bottles of milk made with calf milk formula and more recently, small feed pellets to get him use to solid food. By eight weeks old he will be ready to go out into the fields to graze on the spring grass.
He shares his pen with a ram called king Julian! He has also been poorly but after a course of antibiotics, he is feeling much better and will soon be put back out with the other sheep.
Although Matt and Tina keep a few sheep, they are mainly arable farmers (they grow crops such as wheat) and have told me that I can come down during the harvest and they will show me how to drive a combine harvester! Make sure you don't miss that!
Have a great weekend!
It has been a very busy couple of weeks, which is why I have not posted up a blog for so long. I am pleased to say that all the children are now back at school and life is normal again! Better still, spring seems to have finally arrived - hopefully this time for a bit longer then just two days! The evenings are a lot lighter, the grass has started to grow and even the seeds in my greenhouse are showing the first signs of sprouting. It's all-good!
The farm is very quiet. We are now waiting for the arrival of Pokey's piglets which are due in the next couple of weeks so I will keep you all posted on how she is getting on. Now that my sister is back from South Africa, all the chickens and rabbits have returned home and very happy to have the freedom of the garden once again.
Yesterday I took my three children to visit a friend’s farm in East Meon to see their lambs. It has been a very tough year for sheep farmers. The wet winter has encouraged the spread of diseases such as the liver fluke, (which is a flatworm that goes into the sheep's tummy), plus the icy temperatures during March and the beginning of April have made it especially hard for the lambs to survive.
During the lambing season, if the mother of a newborn lamb dies then the farmer will try to put the new born on a ewe (female sheep) that has lost a lamb herself. To encourage the ewe to adopt (raise as her own) the lamb, they will rub it in her afterbirth so that it smells of her scent. Alternatively, they take the hide (skin) off the dead lamb and place it over the new lamb. She will then be more likely to accept it as her own. Those that don't get adopted by another ewe will be hand reared by the farmer and his helpers.
Within Tina and Matt's barn there are a number of adorable lamb orphans (lambs with no mother) that are just three weeks old. In the height of the lambing season, that barn would have held 400 ewes, each preparing to deliver their new borns at anytime. It must have been chaos! (See video above).
Each of the orphan lambs are hand fed with bottles, although they also have feeding tanks with artificial teats so a few can be fed at one time. In the next week or so, sheep nuts will be introduced and eventually they will be put out into the fields with the rest of the sheep to enjoy the spring grass.
We also met another character in the barn called Jeremy but I will tell you all about him later on in the week.
Enjoy the sunshine, which apparently is on the way as of tomorrow!