Can it really be a year since we moved in? The tadpoles in the pond, the blossom on the trees, the sweet cut grass smell, the faint chirrup of the new lamb: all these things tell me yes it was a year.
This time around Mrs YtoC is planting the veggies into much better kept beds, they look terrific. The glut of oversized veg we got swamped with in June an then struggled to keep through the summer is serving as a lesson. This year we’re planting in fortnightly rotation so we should get some staggering at least. We have some soft fruit in this year. And of course a healthy supply of chicken poop.
And a year ago we thought we’d be having sheep on the paddock to keep the grass down and keep us in meat. We always said we’d let the ground recover from the horses for a year…it needed it. It has done remarkably well and the meadow grass has grown back thick and strong. We won’t get it even or flat but the land looks far more presentable. All ready for livestock.
The problem with the sheep plan is the amount of heavy work they entail, manhandling them to vaccinate, worm and check them, and that’s before they get ill, which sheep love to do. Dying is also a favourite pastime. With me away so much of the week during daylight hours, Mrs YtoC was clear that she couldn’t handle a decent size breed which would eat well like Dorset or Texel.
So we looked at goats. They browse though, and don’t really like grazing so having them in the paddock would be a challenge. Annie, our lovely chicken friend, told us pygmy goats were the answer to everything, but we have different ideas.
Alpacas: low maintenance; not hoofed so easy on the land; ruminants like cows or camels; friendly; easy to train; able to be treated for foot problems and infections without having to lift them or turn them over. Downsides are that they are inedible and we can’t really breed them as we don’t have enough space to separate the close relative when they become sexually mature to stop inbreeding, and we only have space for maybe 3 or 4.
I think therefore we’ll get boys of about a year old, a gang of men to balance the throng of female animals: 9 hens, 2 cats and a dog. Might try to see them tomorrow – and then once the fences are repaired to withstand the odd nibble, the next step on the journey will be complete.