May 2020 Farm Round Up

The glorious spring weather continued into May and we can only hope that this is not the British summer and that the rest of the year will be miserable 🙂  We had some really high temperatures for this time of year, but also some cold nights with frosts and ice on the water buckets – sadly that hit some fresh shoots on our trees quite hard – mid May is very late to be that cold.  And a bit of a mystery going on in the woodland …. snails acting very strangely … 

During the month, the tiny piglets that were born here in March left the farm as chunky weaners to go to their new homes.  When we wean them, we take the sow away, leaving the piglets in an environment that is familiar – the only change is that the milk bar has left.  We always worry that mum will fret about leaving her babies but, time after time, we know she is ready to leave!  As soon as we back the trailer up to the field entrance, each of the sows is waiting, sometimes not too patiently, to get up the ramp and away to some peace and quiet.   The three mums are now off in new paddocks doing what recovering mums should do – lots of eating, sleeping and wallowing!

For the piglets, they have been eating solid food for several weeks now so they seem unaffected by the process too.  In the first few days after weaning, we give them all their new ear tags – each one is pedigree and notified to the British Pig Association who track the rare breeds in the UK.  The tag has their unique number and also our Farm code so that, wherever they go in future, that tag says who they are and where they came from.  

We also start doing trailer training with the weaners – going off to a new home is a big adventure and we want them to be relaxed about going in and out of the trailer – as you can see from this photo, this is a calm and relaxed process – we take our time and let them move at their own pace.  Even in a single litter group, there is always the bold one and at the other end of the scale, the shy one.  We feed them in the trailer for a few days so that by the time they leave us, they gallop in without a worry. 

They also have the only routine medicine that Buttle Farm pigs receive – they are wormed.  When they are born, they have some cover crossed over from the sow but this will give them their own protection. 

Most of them go off to smallholders who buy a few weaners in the Spring so that they have ham/sausages/bacon in time for Christmas.  A few of the best go on to become breeding stock, to keep these fabulous animals going into the future.  

We’re thrilled to report that it looks like we will have a new generation of barn owls on the farm again this year.  The trail camera has been tracking a high level of activity with the adults bringing food back to the box – even working during daylight hours which is a sure sign that they have a number of extra mouths to feed.  Sometimes when you go into the barn where the box is located, you can hear the scrabbling and whistling of the youngsters as they wait for their next snack!  No sightings of them yet but it won’t be long I hope.

We’ve loaded up the incubator with guinea fowl eggs so fingers crossed for a good hatch next month – watch our on FaceBook for photos!!

The long hot sunny days has brought all the wildflowers out in bloom – sadly they don’t last long but there are waves of them around the farm with south facing ones coming first and north facing following a few weeks later so there is a constant display.  The air is buzzing, literally, with the bees hunting out the nectar and also working to pollinate anything and everything!

As the lockdown continues, of course, the holiday cottage on the farm has been empty but if the current improvement in the ‘R’ rate continues, with luck, we will be able to open up again in July.  If nothing else, hopefully, self-catering properties like us should be in the first wave of opening up – no contact required – and ideal for people who just feel in need of a change of scene.  And whilst pubs and restaurants may still be closed, there is still so much to do and see in the area.  For example, our local town, Calne, on the Great West Way, is tagged as the Town of Discovery.  Why, I hear you ask?  Because oxygen was discovered here by Joseph Priestly in the 1770s through his experiments on photosynthesis!