Monday, February 28, 2011


Surprising what you find on the beach (apparently it is a buoy that sits on top of an oil pipe to keep it afloat).
Left for Stanley at 1:30, beautiful day, no wind.  40 minutes across to Flores Harbour, 40 minutes overland to the end of the road.  Track is really dry.  Then along the road to Goose Green.  Stopped in at Goose Green to go to the Galley Cafe as we hadn't eaten before we left.  Its never shut, 9am to 9pm but it was today.  Dropped of the second dog pup as his new owner lives at Goose Green.  Got into Stanley at 7pm, sorted the dogs out, got changed and went to Shorties Diner for supper.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

A right pig of a gather and going to Stanley

Left to gather Sand grass at 9 am.  Easy enough gather usually.  Today by the time I got on top of the hill the sheep that Christopher had pushed out of the sand grass were on the run back out along the coast. Couldn't catch them today as I ended up in amongst the Sand Hills.  Put out Elle to see if she would bring them back.  She did catch them and went around them but by then she was out of ear shot so I couldn't get her to bring them back.  Decided better go and face the music and tell Christopher I had lost about 200 sheep.   Wasn't so bad, he didn't really say anything, just went and got them back.  A bit mellow now the pressure of work is of.  Drafted of the culls down at the Phillips Point pen.  Counted the remaining flock which consisted of  575 under the age of 7.  Will also need to make this flock up with 25 cast but well pleased with that.  Drove the cull ewes up and put them in the top Twin ponds ready to go will all the other culls when Concordia Bay comes on the 22/23rd March.  Not such a bad day in the end, back home by 1pm.
One of Elle's puppies
Going to Stanley tomorrow. Yippee, Shorties Diner here I come.  

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Nothing special

Woke up to a very windy day.  We had heavy rain over night which was much needed.  We didn't do the Sand Grass gather as it was a bit miserable out and there is no rush to get it done.  Christopher sorted out the few sheep and lambs that were still around the paddocks and after lunch went to the garden for a while.  I spent the day in the house apart from going out to feed and play with the pups.  It is now early evening and I am bored.  I wonder why? 

Friday, February 25, 2011

More sunshine and dissapointment

Another beautiful day of sunshine.  Christopher took the ewes back to Phillips' Point.  Twin Ponds is also back out, it has 575 ewes under 6 and 25 under 7.  The 25 are actually this years cull.  This new flock was originally started with 400 2 year olds and 200 culls.  There is no option when starting a new flock other then to use culls as you can't buy young ewes.  Really pleased that this year from the original 200 culls that had to be used to start the flock this year we only had to put 25 out.  Next year hopefully we will not have to use any.  The problem with using culls is they often don't bring in a big strong lamb,  they usually have a light fleece and it is not unusual for them to have black spots in the fleece.
This afternoon has been spent sorting lambs.  Ones that are ready for the abattoir, ones that will be run over the winter and some that need culling because they were born to late or have lost mothers etc and are never going to make sheep.
The cull ewes from Twin ponds and Phillips Point are now ready to go to Top Twin Ponds ready to go to the abattoir in March.
Tomorrow we will gather the Sandgrass again and take of the culls from there and put in the replacement 2 year olds.
Christopher riding in the gymkhana at the Christmas races in Stanley

Christopher riding the mechanical bull at the Port Howard sports (totally useless)
Lastly I am disappointed because I would have liked to go to the horse racing.  Tomorrow Sports week starts.  Sports week is a camp traditional that marks the end of the shearing season.  Each year there will be a sports meeting on both the West Falkland and East Falkland.  This year the west meeting is at Fox Bay and the east meeting is at Goose Green.  I would have liked to go to the east sports.  On Saturday and Sunday they are having horse racing and gymkhana,  they also have mechanical bull competitions, children's sports etc.  On the west they have a shearing competition, peat cutting competition a rover rally, mechanical bull and gold cup racing, football etc.  Its a opportunity for farmers to get together and a lot of people from Stanley attend them to. A lot of beer will be drank over the coming week.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Sunshine, drafting and no megabytes

Another beautiful day.  Scorching sunshine.  The hole in the ozone and lack of pollution and the rare phenomenon of no wind means when its hot its hot.  The season is changing though.  Six o'clock in the morning was very nearly to dark to start shearing.  In fact we had to have lights on in the shed.
The lack of wind meant drafting was nearly a pleasure.  There was no wind to blow the dust around and the clippies and lambs ran through the race superbly.  The introduction of the abattoir means the sheep are handled much more and are now  used to being drafted  quite regularly.  Today the dogs and I were able to keep the sheep up from the second pen out which meant a lot of time was saved because I didn't have to keep filling the forcing pen. 
Drafting today was to sort the flocks out before they go back to their camps for the winter.  Today we sorted the Phillips' Point flock.  This flock is made up of 600 ewes 5 years and under.  It also contains the ewes that will be used in the AI programme in May.  The second flock sorted today was Twin Ponds.  This is a new ewe flock which was only started last year. Speedwell Island when we bought it was a balanced flock.  A balanced flock contains a big percentage of wethers.  It is generally run to produce wool.  We have removed all the wethers and added two  extra ewe flocks to produce lamb.  It is quite a fine balancing act not to sacrifice one income for another. So far we have managed to maintain our wool income and as with everyones it has increased significantly over the last couple of years because of the rise in wool prices.  We still have a long way to go to maximise our income from lamb.  Hopefully the genetics we are importing will help us to achieve this.  The Phillips Point flock is now in the paddock ready to go back to their camp first thing in the morning.  We didn't take them back today because the dogs had already been out and gathered and brought home the sheep from  Top Twin ponds.  The Phillips Point drive will be difficult so the dogs need to be fresh and so does Christopher!!!!
Lastly no more pictures for a few days.  Our Internet is very expensive.  I pay £60.00 a month for 1,000 megabytes and for every megabyte I go over it costs me 14p.  I am over big style!!!!!


Sorry if you are following my blog and have received some of my blogs twice.  I didnt know how to twitter it when I started it back in January. Not many people reading it, perhaps its not very interesting.  Thought I would twitter some of the first ones to see if I could get more people interested in it.  Its a one of, I will not be re-posting any of the old ones again.  Sorry.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Shearing finished

The hydraulic press on Speedwell. It can press up to 300 kilos.  One of the first jobs Christopher did when we bought  Speedwell was to convert it to a capless press.
So pleased shearing is finished for this season.  Over the last 2 days we have had 1,106 sheep shorn.  Christopher has taken the shearers over to the mainland already because they are going into Stanley tonight.  Relaxing evening tonight.  Tomorrow lots of drafting, house tidying and  bedding to wash and dry.  Next major job after all the sheep are sorted is to take Theo to Stanley.  She needs to be taken out of the water  to have her anti fouling and anodes checked.  Ideally we would beach her here but we have virtually no tidal rise and fall so we wouldn't be able to re-float her again.  It will be a very expensive time.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Wow 300 in his first season

Just heard Shaun our son shore 300 today in an eight hour day.  Fantastic result for his first season.

Last shearing of the season

Very busy couple of days.  Christopher got home from his 3rd gather at 5:15pm on Sunday evening.  Monday was spent drafting the lambs of from the ewes.  Took the lambs out to their camp. Just over a thousand will over winter there and the remainder will go to the abattoir in March.  Managed to get ready to pick the shearers up on Monday night instead of Tuesday night.  Christopher left here at 8pm to pick the shearers up and arrived back just before 10pm.
Today was spent in the shearing shed.  Finished the first flock of 555 but shore an extra 15 minutes to do it.  Tomorrow we have approx 560 so will probably have to shear a bit extra again.  Then thats it for shearing for this season.
Shaun climbing in the sand dunes on Speedwell Island
I spent the day rolling and classing wool, Christopher spent the day filling pens and pressing.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

You want to come early!!!!! We could have been quicker but I came looking for you!!!!!

Evan rang last night saying they would like to come and start shearing the sheep on Monday.  Monday!!!!Not a hope of getting ready for Monday. 3 gathers, 3 lots of drafting, 1 drive and 2 lots of lambs to take away.  No can't be done.  We had everything planned so that we would be ready to pick the shearers up Tuesday evening.  Even so we are going to try and getting ready so they can come earlier on Tuesday.  We may then get the last two spells of the day in.
We both left on the gather at the same time today.  We were away from the house by 7am, me in the Strada with the dogs and Christopher on his motorbike.  The first gather started from the house and we gathered down.  The sheep in this camp have been shorn but we wanted to draft off any odds and roughies that had been missed in the first gather.  Fantastic gather, all the sheep were in the pen at 8am, this is a very large camp but the sheep all live at the far end on the greens.  It is badly in need of fencing so that we can make them use some of the less appealing pieces.  Apparently we could have been there earlier if I had been in the right place on the gather.  I was thinking it was so rough in the vehicle that I would just head for the places where I would get the best run.  It worked for me.
Meg having her ECG
Excellent drafting, 600 plus ewes drafted in 45 minutes.  Only a couple of odds and roughies.  Started the second gather in Phillips Point at 9am, another excellent gather.  Slower because these ewes are roughies and still have their lambs.  Still back at the pen by 10am.  Pushed them into the pen to pick up the odds then started the drive back to the settlement.  This is the only camp that we have to do a drive from and it is the furthest away.  Christopher was a bit apprehensive about the drive because we are a bit thin on the ground for dogs.  We have Elle the mother of the pups, luckily she is fit as a fiddle again,  Meg who we discovered earlier in the year has a problem with her heart which causes her to have blackouts.  At the beginning of the season she had an ECG at the vets because she kept collapsing.   The vet thought she was having fits and she was treated for them for a few months.  Christopher wasn't convinced it was fits because she would come round, jump straight up and carry on like nothing had happened.  Hence the ECG which showed that her heart on some occasions only beats 17 times a minute instead of 90plus.  We were then given the option of, putting her down, trying some treatment or letting her continue as she is.  The answer to her problem is a pacemaker, apparently she was born with the problem and it is getting worse with age.  She is a super dog, loves work, loves life so we have left her for nature to take its course unless she gets to a point where it would be kinder to put her down.  The likelihood is that one day she will black out and not come round. She has had an excellent season however with very few blackouts compared to the amount she was having at the start of the season.  She loves work, so what can you do? Then there is Sue, just under a year old, who at one point decided she didn't even like sheep and kept coming home.  Over the last two months however she has discovered she is a sheepdog and that theres nothing she likes better then chasing sheep.  Sue is a hunterway/kelpie cross.  She is hard, hard, hard.  We also have her sister who at this moment in time will work in the pens but doesn't bark which isn't very helpful. She will not work on the gathers because she doesn't like Christopher shouting at the other dogs.  When your best dogs are two heading dogs who think they know everything it takes a lot of shouting and whistling to keep them where you want them and not where they think is best.  No matter, the drive started of well and I stayed with them until we were through the first camp.  Everything was under control so I came on home ahead to start cooking meals for shearing.  I was home by half eleven and Christopher was home by half one.
At 3 o'clock Christopher was back out again on his third gather of the day.  Leaving me at home to carry on cooking, making beds etc.  Its now 5 o'clock, Christopher is still gathering and I am still cooking.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Speedwell Island and gardens

Fuel, part bales of wool, motorbike, tools, 2 pet lambs, 4 dogs and 5 puppies all loaded onto the boat by 8:30 am and away to Speedwell at 8:40am.  Nice day for boating, approximately 15 knots of wind, a few white toppers out there because of the wind direction.  Stayed up on the fore deck for most of the trip but started getting the odd face wash and ended up with two wet feet from sitting with my legs dangling over the bow.  Bought myself a nice LL Bean jacket for on the boat because I prefer to be on deck then inside and was fed up being cold.  It said would keep you warm to -40, well it doesn't.  I guess that is because it is probably a ski jacket and isn't designed to keep the wind out.  It doesn't matter though, I love it and I'm going to keep on wearing it and continue to be cold I guess.  Retired to the wheel house for the last 30 minutes.  The battery charging gauge was showing that the boat was charging the batteries too high.  Christopher swapped to the second bank of batteries but couldn't get it to come down even switching everything on.  Found out the gauge was stuck.   Phew, I'm nervous at the best of times.  Arrived at Speedwell  at just before 11:00 am, it is only a stones throw away but it takes nearly half an hour to come up the side of George Island.  Although we are always pretty close to the coast line we have to come out towards Barren Island to clear the reefs running out from George Island. We then have to come out around Anne Island before we can start coming into Speedwell.  A good run though and we had the boat unloaded and out at her moorings by 11:30.
Went straight up to look at the garden.  A nice surprise.  The potatoes are looking really good, still growing.  The swedes, carrots, white turnip, lettuce and beetroot  are still growing but already a decent size.  Some of the cabbages are ready, the peas are full.  Cauliflowers are coming on but they have no heads yet.  On the fruit bushes there are red and green gooseberries.  Happy days.  Its been a great summer.
The garden on George Island

Friday, February 18, 2011

Wool away and getting ready to move

The day started early for Christopher at 4:30am with 44 bales of wool to be taken out of the bale shed and rolled  down to the jetty.  Its not even light!!!!!  They then have to be pushed up a small ramp onto a trolley to be taken down the jetty three at a time.  Heavy work.  I woke up to the sound of Christopher shouting through the back door at 6:00 am you up Lindsey.  I rushed out of bed, grabbed the paperwork and went down to the bale shed.  Thought I was in trouble actually but he just wanted me to sort the paperwork out because we hadn't been able to get it ready in advance because we didn't know how many bales the boat was going to take.  Sorted out the paperwork and then helped roll the remaining dozen or so bales down to the head of the jetty.  Must be getting weak as had a job to get the heavier bales rolled over the first time.  Once you get them going it is quite easy to keep them going but getting a 160 kilo bale moving from stationary takes a good bit of effort.  The Concordia Bay had her first sea truck at the jetty at 6:15 and all 44 bales were loaded by 8:00.  Unfortunately we have been left with 6 bales which will now have to be moved at a later date but they were not important bales so that's not so bad. The sea trucks used to carry up to 18 bales at a time but in the last couple of years the MCA has started enforcing their regulations and they can now only carry 6 at a time.
We got 600 litres of diesel on the Concordia Bay which will all go into Theo in the morning.  They say keeping a boat is like pouring money down the drain.
The rest of the day has been spent getting ready to go to Speedwell in the morning.  We only have one set of a lot of our farm stuff so things like, portable pens, weighing scales and all Christopher's tools for mechanic work have to be put on the boat.  He also takes his motorbike back and forward with him even though we have several.
George Island house, the sheep wearing the coats were part of a trial.
I also finished all my bookwork and printed of any papers I needed because I don't have a printer at Speedwell.  Re-billed some of the semen straws that are coming from Australia because we also purchased some on behalf of other people.  Wrote letters to the few people that haven't paid for their Xmas lambs that we killed on farm and supplied to Stanley.  We sold 120 this year and I have about 6 bills outstanding.  This is pretty good and I know all the money will come in, some are just a bit slow.  Made up a store list for when we next go to Stanley and had an extra good tidy up because I hate coming back and finding it untidy. 
Christopher hasn't had a day off for what seems like months but in another week things should start to ease up.  Hopefully we will then do a run into Stanley for a few days.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Its true the mooring is to close to the beach at Barren!!!

Hi-ab finished.  Concordia Bay on its way to pick up bales.  Found out today that Concordia Bay can only take between 40 and 43 of the 50 bales of wool waiting to go to Stanley.  This is a right pain because the wool has to be cored when it gets to Stanley.  For this we need to have all  our fleece lines in so that we can have them lotted into their own lines.  We have decided that if they they can take 43 bales we will get all the fleece lines in but that will leave oddments of bellies, necks etc.  To do this however means all the bales will have to be unloaded out of the shed.   The oddment bales will then have to be sorted out and then put back in the shed.  The shed is full two tiers high so we can't just shift them around.  The bales are all weighting between 160 to 200 kilos so not ideal.
To get all the fleece lines ready to go Christopher had to go over to Barren and collect the seven bales from there.  He took them out in loads of two and three to Theo.  Let go from the buoy, put it in gear and nothing happened.   He then realised with the low tide and 1,000 kilos plus of wool he was sitting firmly on the bottom.  Luckily Theo was a scallop dredger and she has a big prop and plenty of power. With full power on she was able to push herself of the bottom.  Glad I wasn't there though.   The mooring definately needs resetting.

Crabbing equipment, hens lips and bird ****!!!!

Started ordering all the equipment for processing crab.  Christopher already has all the boat equipment because he supplied crab to a processor in Stanley when he purchased George Island 11 years ago.  11 years ago when we purchased George Island the income from them was £5,000 so he had to find another way to increase his income.  At the time I worked in Stanley until the income could be brought up to support a family.  Then the abattoir came along and it just became too busy to continue with.  He also crabbed by himself which I wasn't really happy with as there is no one close if anything goes wrong.  We have decided to restart the business this year because our son and his girlfriend want to move to Speedwell to work.  We could manage without it but over the last couple of years we have been able to invest substantially in our business buying equipment such as portable pens, an over sower, new portable generator etc. and we don't want to lose this ability.  We didn't want to take on the processing side but the original processor in Stanley wasn't interested anymore.  The processing will give Tanya, Shaun's girlfriend an opportunity to earn money so in that respect it will be welcomed.  Most of the equipment is now ordered but there is still the big job of building or converting a building into a small processing plant.  As every one knows fish products have to be respected.  The plan at the moment is to catch once or twice a month and process once a week, keeping excess live crab in keep pots.  The product will be processed on a Wednesday and flown to Stanley as a fresh product on Thursday.  If there are any delays in getting the product to market it will be frozen and freighted as a frozen product.
Christopher has spent his morning working on the hi-ab on Theo.  The seals are all leaking making the deck slippery.  He has just ordered replacement parts for the hi-ab and the person he was dealing with said spares for this particular model were no longer available but they could make them.  He said you really need to look after the end piece though because they are like "hens lips", what happened, he broke it, luckily he does have a spare one!!!!  He came in saying "its one of those jobs you wish you had never started".
Shaun with a rarely caught King Crab

Shaun and his mate Dave sorting the catch of Snow crab
What have I been doing.  Just dusting!!!!  One of those rare days when the dust has just got too thick and you know you have to do something about it.  I even got a chair and dusted the top of my display units, only to find bird crap on the top.  Our islands are all cat, rat and mouse free.  That's nice isn't it?  It means we have lots of little birds, especially the tussac bird which at every opportunity comes in through open windows and doors.  A bit of bird **** is a small price to pay for no rats and mice I guess.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Island farming in the Falkland Islands: Sheep to Barren Island and hooray last years accou...

Island farming in the Falkland Islands: Sheep to Barren Island and hooray last years accou...: "Christopher gathered in the ewes of the back of George again today. We drafted of the required amount of each age to balance the flock..."

Sheep to Barren Island and hooray last years accounts finished

Christopher gathered in the ewes of the back of George again today.  We drafted of the required amount of each age to balance the flock on Barren.  Christopher then drove them down the jetty and onto Theo.  In the first load he took 80 ewes across.  We use portable pens on the boat so that we can carry sheep on her.  He then unloaded them 15 at a time into the old blue dingy and towed them ashore with the new dingy. He didn't want any help, probably more like he knows I don't like going on the boat when he has sheep on board.  Loading on to Theo is easy, we have a gangway they go down but unloading them onto the dingy is hard, heavy work as they are not inclined to jump down into.  Hence the bad back he now has after giving them all a helping hand.  Super days work though now means the work on Barren is finished for the season other then taken the small lambs back of again at the end of March.
The listed house on Barren Island (so quaint but in need of tender loving care)
I spent the afternoon finalizing the farm accounts for last year.  This definitely has to be a record for me because our accountants are normally asking for my accounts middle of April because I haven't got them finished.  Then completed Tiphanie's tax return for her, she is hoping to get a big enough refund from her pay as you earn to fly home for Easter.  As a full time student she pays half fare but even half is £800 plus return.  I worked out she was due £960 so she will be happy.  Also got the form away to do a telegraphic transfer for the genetic material we are importing from Australia.  We have no internet banking in the Falklands so everything has to be done the long winded way.

Lonely puppy and sweets

Two puppies flew out on the plane today.  One to his new home as a pet called Ollie and the other to the vet to have her belly button hernia fixed.  We had five bitches and two dogs.  The remaining little dog is very sad and refused to come out of his bed even though he still has 4 sisters to play with. 
Happily though we received our mail, although it was mainly bills.  We also ordered some groceries to come on the plane and some sweets!!!!.  We haven't had any sweets for over a month because we never bring any out with us.  Mainly because we both have a sweet tooth and the self control of a flea  and they all get eaten at once.  A nice treat.
Hanseatic anchored at Barren Island
4,600 tourists in Stanley again today.  We have 3 visits from a tourist ship booked in for 2011/2012.  They come to visit Barren island to see the elephant seals and Sealions also the Gentoo and the thirty three species of bird that this little island hosts.  Some times they also come to George Island where we do shearing displays, dog trialing, short walks and tea/coffee and cakes in the house.  The largest ships we get carry about 100 tourists.  These tourists are normally into the wildlife.  It is a great little sideline but not an income to rely on.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Barren Island Again

Archie the South Devon Bull
Left at 6:30am  to go across to Barren Island.  Gathered all the ewes again.  Drafted them of into their ages.  The sheep are bad for going down onto the beaches on Barren when they are heavy in lamb.  They appear to do this to eat kelp which is high in minerals.   This sometimes leads to loss of animals on reefs.  They appear to go out on them and get cut off by the tide.  Some years we lose non and sometimes we lose quite a lot.  The purpose of drafting them today was to count how many of each age group there are and top  each age group up rather then replace the loss with all young ewes.  It appears that if we do have a loss on Barren the biggest percentage will be in the 2 year old ewes.  These are  some of our most valuable animals wool wise and it is better financially to replace with only enough 2 year olds to keep the flock balanced then top all the other age groups up again.  We hope to sort this problem out by fencing areas of the coast where we think we are losing sheep. We just finished as it started to rain and got a good soaking going back out to the boat.
This afternoon I spent the afternoon paying bills and doing paperwork ready for the plane tomorrow.  We have asked for a freight run tomorrow as I haven't had any mail since before the end of January and there will be bills that need paying before the end of the month.  We are also taking the opportunity to send two of the pups away.  One is going to Stanley as a pet and the other is going into the vet for an operation because it has a belly button hernia.  I prefer not to call in a plane if  no one is flying in or out because it seems an extreme expense to drop off mail and stores but sometimes you have to.
Christopher spent the afternoon getting the boat ready to take the small lambs over to the reservation on Tea Point.  He left 4 o'clock ish and is not back yet at 7 o'clock but he has to unload them from Theo in small lots and tow them to the shore in our old dingy using our new one as there there is no jetty for Theo to get alongside.
Got the result of our 310 lambs from Barren today.  Really pleased, 126 maxed out price wise.  Pleased with all the results some were obviously ready to go earlier, others could have done with a bit longer.  I guess we will always have this problem because we have to be able to fill crates.  A crate holds between 150 to 170. This time we sent 310 in two crates, we can't send them away in small lots because we only have limited visits from Concordia Bay.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Weighing lambs and the missing genes

Happy Valentines Day to all you romantics out there.  I waited and waited, flowers no (but then it is difficult to get flowers to an island), a box of chocolates, no, a card, no, just a Happy Valentines day dear, no.  Did I really wait expectantly, no.   I realised early in our relationship that the romantic gene was definitely missing, nothing, nada.  Along with the missing romantic gene is the missing tidyness gene.    Luckily there are a  lot of good qualities present to make up for these missing genes.

Tiphanie graduating from Portsmouth university
 After almost a week of trying I  managed to get hold of my daughter in the UK.  She is currently studying for a master degree at uni in a fishy related subject.  Unfortunately we don't have a second form college in the Falklands and to further your education you have no option other then to go away. Tiphanie attended Peter Symonds college in the UK for two years to do A levels, she then went on to Portsmouth university for three years to study Marine Biology she then returned to the Falklands for a year and worked as a fisheries observer on the fishing fleet.  She was then lucky enough to obtain grants to go back to the UK to do her masters degree.
The day has been spent weighing lambs.  We had drafted of approx. 120  lambs  that were not ready for the abattoir. We needed to make a decision about what we were going to do with them.  21 weighed at 25kilos plus which is still light but they will make the abattoir by  the time the boat comes.  Approx 60 went 20 - 25 and we have decided to take them to the reservation on Barren.  This is an awesome piece of land and should have these ready for a later shipment in March.  40 went 17 to 20 kilos which will never make abattoir weight, these we have decided to put in the tussac on George.  Even though these are light a number are fat enough, just late born.  We will slaughter them for ourselves as they get chubbier.   This was a pretty pleasing result as we have no improved land.  In conclusion out of the 997 lambs born on George only 40 of those destined for the abattoir will not make it.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Island farming in the Falkland Islands: Just another day drafting

Island farming in the Falkland Islands: Just another day drafting: "Decided at 6 pm yesterday perhaps I should go out and see how Christopher was getting on with the gather. I probably should have seen h..."

Just another day drafting

Decided at 6 pm yesterday perhaps I should go out and see how Christopher was getting on with the gather. I probably should have seen him coming home at about 5pm.  Sometimes it just isn't worth gathering if the wind is in the wrong direction and it appears this was one of these times.  One of the good things about gathering clippies  is how fast they run.  Run they did but every time he left one lot to go to another they all ran the wrong way.  Twice they went right back to where they had come from.  When I met him he had just put his motorbike on reserve.  This pretty much says it all as he would normally get several gathers out of one tank of fuel.  I have to say however that when I joined him they seemed to be behaving pretty well.  I think they had just given in to the idea that they were going home whether they liked it or not.  We eventually arrived home with them at 7:30pm.  A good hour and a half longer then it would normally take with clippies.
Ewes and lambs on Barren Island
Today has been spent drafting.  Drafted brilliantly, the first run through doing a three way draft of 1,200 clippies and 1,000 lambs took just over an hour and a half.  Drafting today to see how many flock ewes we have, how many cast ewes need replacing.  Taking 300 of the best ewe lambs of for this years replacement and drafting all the rest of the lambs to see how many are ready for the abattoir now and how many need a bit longer.  Pleased with the results 400 plus are ready now.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Clams, mushrooms, penguin eggs, Sealions and Elephant seals

Gave up on the idea of gathering.  Chris checked the ram paddock fence and put the electric wire on.  Hopefully we will not have any escapees and no early lambs. 
He came back with a large bag of clams that he had dug up while he was away.  Lunch was clams and penguin egg omelette.  I see people getting up in arms WHAT penguin egg omelette!!!!!  Let me reassure you that the collecting of penguin eggs is regulated with licences issued.  We personally only collect enough to  share between family and friends.  They are collected straight after the first laying, the penguins will then lay again within a matter of days much like a hen.  The eating of penguin eggs is fast becoming a thing of the past.  At one time they were collected in great numbers and pickled by families and where a vital part of their diets.  Now very few eggs find there way into Stanley so our younger generation in many cases will not even have tried them.  This year there was a penguin census and all the colonies of Gentoos in the islands were counted.  We counted all the rookeries on our islands and numbers are up by thousands since the last census.  The Gentoos have all now hatched. It was pleasing to see nearly all the birds had two healthy chicks.
After lunch we went for a run in the vehicle to look at the cattle.  It has been a good season for them and they are all in good condition.  We then decided to go around the coast to look at the Sea Lion pups.  They have also had a good season with plenty of pups.  It was nice to see 5 elephant seal hauled up on the beach also.  Decided to head back home and turn the sheep in on the way as the fog had lifted.  Found lots of wild mushrooms, the flat headed variety and button ones.  Nice collecting mushrooms here because they don't get the little maggots and you can collect them at any time of day and they will still be good. 
Freshly picked wild mushrooms

Freshly dug clams

Sea lions and their pups

The pups are the little black chaps

Elephant seal
At four o'clock decided to gather the sheep, the wind is in the wrong direction but hopefully will get them in.  I am just waiting now until I start seeing the sheep pulling towards home then I will take the vehicle and dogs out and help finish the gather.

A good old moan

Plans were to bring all the sheep in today but we have thick fog which at 10:30 still hasn't lifted.  Christopher is one of little faith and thinks that even on an island I will get lost.  Maybe later.
That is not my moan however.  With no gathering I am left to do some housework.  Now who, and it must have been a man created the VAX 2200 vacuum cleaner!!!.  I can only think it was a man because a woman would have given it a trial run.  Why does the lead come out the side so that the wheel has no option other then to run over it.  Why is the filter situated in the dust container inches away from the dust meaning it is sucked straight up into the filter?   Why is it the heaviest hoover I have ever come across which wouldn't be so bad if it run on its wheels and you didn't have to drag it because the cord is always under the wheel?  Four hooverings is the best you can hope for without cleaning the filter.  I wonder why it has a sticker on it saying do not return to shop, return direct to manufacturer.  The shops would probably be overflowing with them.  Lastly why didn't I listen to my son who said it sounds the same as the one in the house we are renting and it constantly overheats and cuts out.  That's because the filter will be totally blocked!!!!!  Why didn't I look more closely, because I thought VAX was a good brand.   Grrrrr!!!!!!!

Friday, February 11, 2011

More pressing and gathering

Finished the pressing for George and Barren Island.  Went to look at the new tussac plantation.  It is looking pretty healthy although some of it has rust.  Checked to see if the Yorkshire fog we planted was still coming up.  Quite disappointed because although some is still coming through some of the earlier growth is now burning off.  In need of rain again.
Luckily noticed water running away from one of the pipes at the shearing shed.  All our water is collected from the roofs of the buildings.  When there is just the two of us we don't struggle but we cant afford for it to be running away.
Chris spent considerable time on the phone again trying to find out what is happening about getting heavy equipment to the islands.  Two years ago we could get 4 wheel drive vehicles landed but just over a year ago the sea truck weight carrying capacity was reduced.  We have now been waiting for over a year to get a 4 wheel drive surf landed at Speedwell Island and a Eager Beaver at Speedwell.  Despite numerous phone calls we are no further ahead today then we were a year ago.  The problem just gets passed  round and round government departments  
In the afternoon we gathered the back of the island into the front ready to bring all the sheep in again tomorrow. 
Finally got a good home for our last puppy.  He is going to be a pet but I'm sure he will get used to a life of pampering.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Ordinary Day

Received our bill today for the Samm semen that we have sourced from Southern Australia.  Semen  is normally sourced by our agriculture department but we felt that this did not necessarily mean that the genetics being imported included the characteristics that are important to our breeding programme.  We have went for Samms with a higher fat content and a heavier whiter fleece.  Fat content was not I believe one of the characterisitcs that were considered of importance in the original genetics.  We believe this is quite important, our harsh winters require that our  animals  go into the winter with a decent covering of fat. As it stands we will have 220 ewes AI'd in May.
Islander aircraft on George Island airstrip
Spent considerable time on the phone trying to work out dates for our final shearing of the season.  This was supposed to be on the 15th of this month, then the 22nd but now we are hearing that it may move back to the 27th which is really getting too late.  Getting sheaers when you want them is diffiucult, we don't want to shear any of our ewes before the beginning of Feb because that would mean weaning the lambs too early but then we dont want to shear after the end of Feb because the weather is getting too cold.
The rest of the day was spent with Chris pressing, in his shorts!!!!  Another beautiful day 20 degrees plus.  I decided to do some touch up paint work in my bedroom.  This year we completly changed our heating system over, going from a peat/wood burning stove to oil.  We also renewed and put in extra radiators meaning I now have unpainted patches on the wall because I never want anything were it was originally.  How contrary is that?  So nice to come in and not have to start stoking up a fire for hot water and heating.  I am eternally grateful that when this house was built it was situated perfectly and the sun blazes through my three metre long kitchen window in the morning, through my sitting room window in the afternoon and into the bedrooms in the evenings.  This means we can go for days in the summer without putting the heating on.  The same can't be said for our house on Speedwell, I think all precautions must have been taken to make sure it was dark and sunless.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

I've got one

Yea Ive got my first follower.  Thanks Jo Turner.  Im not sure if I should be excited about this or am I leading a sad life and spending far to much time on the internet!!!

Island farming in the Falkland Islands: Concordia Bay and whales

Island farming in the Falkland Islands: Concordia Bay and whales: "Pressed bale ready to have the pins put through and the top secured  Hand pressing the wool from the top box down into the bottom box. ..."

Concordia Bay and whales

Pressed bale ready to have the pins put through and the top secured

Hand pressing the wool from the top box down into the bottom box.

Jumping the box to get a decent bale weight.
Early start again today .  Got up at 5:00am ready to go to Barren.  I didn't go in the end as Christopher said he could manage without me.  Filled in the majority of  the livestock form just leaving start of loading and amount loaded for Christopher to fill in.  He is quite capable of filling the form in but is very careless.  In fact he should have been a doctor as his hand writing is atrocious.  Hope it is all filled in correctly because the EU inspectors are down inspecting the abattoir.  Send 310 lambs in the end.  Christopher left here at 5:30 am and Concordia Bay anchored of Barren at 6:30.  The lambs were then loaded into a sea truck and ferried out to the ship.  Loading started at 6:45 and all 310 were loaded by 9:15am and the ship was on its way  back to New Haven by 10:00am where the lambs would be off loaded onto a truck for their final part of the journey to the abattoir.  The abattoir is a new tool in agriculture in the Falklands.  It opened approximately 6 years ago and gave farmers another income stream.  It has taken time to become established and is still heavily subsidized by our government.  Each year more farms supply but it has taken time.  We have changed our whole farm structure from a balanced flock to a ewe flock to supply lamb.  It has made a massive difference to us financially.  We chose to move to dual purpose sheep  so as not to swap one income for another.  Historically pure lamb breeds are very coarse and to move in that direction would have massively reduced our income from wool.  Our chosen breeds are, on Speedwell Island the South African mutton Merino, this animal throws 60% to meat and 40% to wool.  This animal is proving to be well suited and although shorter wooled and a little coarser compensates for this by having a very large body and so  carries a larger fleece if slightly shorter in fibre.  On George island we have chosen the Dohne.  This is also a South African animal but throws 40% meat and 60% wool.  Initially we had our doubts about the suitability of these animals because they tended to come in quite lean but we have now been putting Dohne in here for approximately 5 years and they seem to be adapting to our conditions very well.  Our micron on George has decreased significantly and with record breaking wool prices would seem to be a good choice.  Lastly on Barren we put Pol Dorset rams across the ewes. No lambs at all are kept from these, the whole lot go to the abattoir because the Pol Dorset is very coarse.  The flock is topped up on  Barren each year with replacement ewes from George to make sure that wool quality is not lost.  The new genetics have been introduced through AI and ET programmes.
Chris got back from Barren at 11:15, he brought the 7 Poll Dorset rams over.  These rams will now stay in the ram paddock here until it is time for them to go out to the flock again in May.
The afternoon was spent in the garden as it was a beautiful day again with temperatures of 20-22 degrees.
The whales can still be seen from the kitchen window and it is now 6pm.  I guess there is a good supply of krill in Eagle passage today.
Finally, I read today that 71% of the Falklands population is on face book which apparently makes us the biggest facebookers in the world by population.  Crazy or what?


I try not to blog during the day but how can you not get excited when you look out your kitchen window and see whales blowing!!!!!  How cool is that?  I expect they are Sei whales.  The boat is at the jetty and really feel like going out to look at them but Christopher is busy unloading the rams from Barren.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Branding lambs and pressing wool

Another long busy day.  Left for Barren at 10 o'clock in Theo.  Hadn't intended to go over until after lunch but the grib said it would get windy during the day.  Really needed to get over there before the wind as the mooring is in very shallow water and there isn't much room for error.  It was a little more difficult then usual because of the westerly wind.  Had no problems though.  Took photos on the way over as we were accompanied by dolphins in the bow wave.
Pressed up all the remaining wool as we didn't want to get the sheep in too early.  Pressed six bales today and one on the day we shore.  Got approximately 900 kilos of fleece wool and 150 kilos of bellies, stain etc.  A pretty good result from 198 ewes.
Chris went gathering at 1:30 after we had finished all the wool work.  I stayed in the shearing shed listening to my i-pod as all the cleaning up was done and there wasn't much else to do other then wait.  Rather a slow gather today it took about an hour and a half to get them back and into the pens.  Then had to draft all the lambs of again.  Branded 312 lambs with our mark of GI ready for the abattoir.  Discarded 4 as not fit.  Then we drafted the ewes again to get the rams of ready to bring over to George tomorrow.  Also drafted of this years cull ewes.  They are also in excellent condition and will go to the abattoir but they were only shorn this week and cant go until 30 days after shearing.
Left Barren as the sun was starting to set and got back to George at 8:20pm.  Lovely evening as the wind had gone down again.   Concordia Bay is anchored out ready to start work at 6:30 in the morning.  Another early morning then.
Looking forward to supper as didn't take anything for lunch thinking we would be back earlier.  As always there is always someone who thinks they are hungrier.  Today it was seven puppies and two lambs  waiting for supper and demanding they be fed first.
Barren Island shearing shed before the new roof was put on
Lastly delighted to get into the ship to shore today to be told we now have oars.  Having recently changed boats over I was a bit concerned when I got in the new one to find we had one oar and where the other one should have been was a large axe.  I did pose the question who the heck is going to row with an axe!!!!  Visions of ever increasing cirlces came to mind.  Today however the cup is no longer half empty but over flowing with a compliment of not two but three oars.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Lazy day

Expecting to go to Barren today and gather all the ewes and lambs  again ready for the lambs to go to the abattoir. Instead I spent the day cleaning up, washing etc after the rush of the last few days.  Chris killed dog tucker and pressed 3 bales with the hand press.  The weather has been quite warm and pressing the bales to 160 - 190 kilos has worked up quite a sweat.
Concordia Bay is delayed arriving until tomorrow afternoon.  We will now get the lambs in tomorrow and  brand them with our farm mark of GI ready to be  loaded onto the boat at 6am the following morning.
Both had a lazy afternoon watching a bit of telly.

Our boat Theo moored at George Island
 Still need to find good homes for two dog pups they are now six weeks old and eating us out of house and home.


Very busy couple of days. Too tired to do blogging after work and no one is following anyway so doesn't really matter. Friday and Saturday were both 5:30 am get ups for 6:00am starts.  Both days had good tallies of 500 plus.  Molks shore 304 in 8 hours which is probably a record for George Island.  Shore an extra half hour each day and finished at 5:30.  Then had to come home and sort out supper.  Quite organised for the first two evening meals, had them ready prepared.  Saturday night had to come home and cook one but had opted for an easy meal of sausage, chicken drumsticks, chips, veg and gray with a dessert of angel delight and peaches.  Easy enough meal but still not cooked before 7:30 so a late day by the time the dishes and tidying up was done.  At breakfast time Chris leaves the shed quarter of an hour early and comes home and cooks eggs etc, at lunch time he does the same but because we don't have a cook we only have a cold lunch of salad and cold meats and ham.
Sunday morning saw 70 rams and 45 ewes left.  The shearers were booked out on the islander on the first flight which meant they wouldn't get them all finished.  Chris took the ewes out of the shed and put the rams in first as he didn't intend getting left with rams to shear.  We shore 2 hours before breakfast and the shearers finished the rams.  We then had a thirty minute breakfast instead of an hour and went back to the shed until 9:15.  The shearers then came straight home changed their clothes and headed up to the airstrip.  The planes eta was 9:35.  This left it pretty tight as each time you meet the plane you have to clear the grass strip of sheep and geese, put up a wind sock and attach a fire appliance to the vehicle.
After seeing the shearers off we had smoko then went to the shed and Chris shore the 11 ewes that were left.  I carried, swept the floor, rolled and classed the wool.
Shaun working on Barren Island putting a new roof on the Barren Island shearing shed
Shearing finished we marked 19 lambs that had been missed at lamb marking time.  I pulled them out and we marked them on the floor as most were to heavy for me to lift onto the bench.  I don't know how the shearers pull sheep out all day.  I found  pulling the lambs out of the pens heavy work and the heaviest would have only been 30 kilos.  Our ewes range between 50 and 60 kilos and some of our rams topped 100 kilos.

Friday, February 4, 2011


Woke up at 3:50am.  Molks our shearer was dreaming and talking and got up and opened the patio door.  Couldn't get back to sleep and had to get up at 5am to start work at 6.  Long, long day.  The fleeces are all big, luckily we have a good rousie and the fleeces are landing  on the table well making it easier for cleaning.  Shore through to 5:30.  Shore an extra half hour because the shearers need to be away on Sunday. A good tally of 514.
Shaun got a good tally before breakfast.  Molks who is the shearing gang boss suggested he should take mum and dad around with him to give him inspiration every day as he normally has a pretty poor tally in the two hour spell before breakfast.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Shearers and shearing

Islander aircraft arrived at 9:35am with contract shearers, rousie and tablehand.  Our shearing gang for this run is Lee Molks one of the Falklands fastest shearers and our own son  Shaun who is doing his first season contract shearing.  Lee has a biggest day tally of 400 plus and Shaun in his first season has shorn 12,000 sheep so far since the beginning of November and has a personal best of 236.  No new tallies will be set here as island sheep are generally larger then mainland animals.  Our contract rousie is Charmaine and our extra table hand for shearing is Tanya, Shaun's girlfriend, a hairdresser by trade.
We had smoko then headed straight over to Barren and started shearing at 11:00am.  We arrived back on George at 4:30pm but decided it was to late to start another spell.
Tanya and I worked on the rolling table cleaning and rolling the fleeces and Christopher filled pens and pressed.  The press on Barren is a very old hand press.  You have to put the fleeces in in layers of four and after each layer get in the box and jump them down.  Then you press the second box into the first box with a large lever.  Not easy, I personally cannot press a bale to completion.
Christopher showing my nephew Macaulay how to shear a sheep.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

drafting sheep and wall to wall sunshine

Went to the garden for an hour after lunch.  Finished weeding the small seed patch.  The garden is looking good after a slow start and gale force winds that battered the potatoes within an inch of their life. The recent rain and warm days have seen them come on good.  Took my i-pod with me, turned it up full volume and sang along at the top of my voice.  I love loud music.  I believe my singing is pretty horrendous but whos to hear.
After the garden with the day still being so calm and hot I went and sat on the beach bank waiting for Christopher to come back.  No wind is a rare treat in the Falklands and with my i-pod off all I could hear was sheep baaing, the wind turbine swishing, a variety of birds and  the sea breaking on the beach.  Eventually even the turbine stopped turning due to the lack of wind.
At 5:15pm we headed over to Barren to draft the sheep.  I sat on the bow of Theo listening to my i-pod.  Drafting was hard work.  The sheep usually run through the pens and race really well but not today.  Matters were made even more difficult by the fact that the forcing pen gate had no hinges, just a bit of wire strapped around the top to keep it tied to the post.  Because the sheep wouldn't run the gate still had to be dragged open and shut all the time to keep the sheep forced up to the race.  Tempers were becoming more then a little frayed.  The problem appeared to be that we had had an excellent lambing with 198 ewes bringing in 323 lambs.  Percentages like this are few and far between.  The lambs had not been through the race before hence the difficulty drafting. We had expected to be away no more then 2 hours but in fact didn't get home until 8:15pm.  At least the shearing shed is full and the ewes will be all shorn by early afternoon tomorrow.
The day turned into a beautiful evening and again I sat out on the bow of Theo during the 15 minute trip back across to George island.  The water was so calm and clear you could see jellyfish in it.  That and the penguins did wonders to sooth my frayed temper.

I've been found

Yes, yes so excited.  Two people have found me.  Awesome.

Photos of Sea lions in the grass on Barren Island.

Beautiful day

Spent ages trying to find my own blog and came to the conclusion that it is very difficult.  Posted a question on making it easier and got a good answer back.  Did some more things online to hopefully make it easier.
I am all alone on George Island.  Something I am now used to but it felt very strange the first time.
Chris is away to Barren in the small rib, usually we take the big boat but a beautiful calm day so didn't today.  He is away to gather the Barren ewes and lambs.  I didn't go because we only have one motorbike over there for transport.  He will come back and get me later and we will go over in the big boat and draft of the lambs and fill the shearing shed ready for shearing tomorrow morning.
5,500 tourists in Stanley today of tourist boats.  Glad I'm not in there.  Why do tourists thing that when they are in the Falklands that they rule the roads.  They walk straight across the roads, up the centre of the roads.  Totally bizarre, where else in the world would you do that and not expect to get run over?  We love them really that's why we crawl down the road at 5mph waiting patiently for them to move out of our way.  The locals will be outnumbered 5 to 1 today.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

passengers from a super yacht

Had a ring from local newspaper Penguin News asking if it was true that the passengers from the very expensive yacht currently in Stanley were staying on George Island.  Rumours are awesome things, not even heard from the yacht or passengers, how do rumours start?  Alas no, just me and Christopher on George Island.  A few very rich tourists wouldn't go amiss though. Rang the answerphone on Speedwell to check no one had moved into the house up there.  Nobody answered.
More work on end of year accounts.  Reconciled the bank for the final time for 2010, balanced first try.

An afternoon of chat on facebook

Well not a very productive afternoon for me.  Spent at least an hour on face book chat to my sister Susan in Yorkshire.  Hadn't chatted for ages so lots to catch up on. 
Shearers now not arriving until Thursday so a bit of spare time.  Turned the George Island ewes out into the ram paddock for the day as the gorse paddock doesn't have any water.
Put gathering Barren Island off until tomorrow.
Rang Gina at West Store electrical to buy a new electric kettle.  Gina kindly went through the 6 or 8 different ones they had and I chose what sounded like a nice 3 kw stainless steel one.  3 kw did sound quite heavy power wise so decided to mention it to Christopher. This only confirmed the niggling little thought that was going through my head that it was too high a kilowatt for the turbine.  The outcome being that I had to ring back and get a 2.2 kw but alas there was no choice to be had. 

cooking and waiting

Beautiful day.  Making stew, shepherds pie, potato salad ready for shearing.  I really do not like cooking.  Thankfully mum is doing all the cake cooking for the smokos.  In limbo at the moment.  Not sure if the shearers will arrive tomorrow or Thursday.  Will find out after lunch but until then we don't know whether to go and gather Barren Island today or leave it until tomorrow.  What to do?  Drafted off the wether lambs from the rams, was hoping to get some wether lambs weighed to see if they are ready for the abattoir but just don't have enough time.  A job for after shearing. 
The Falkland Islands shearing tally was broken yesterday 461 sheep shorn in an 8 hour day.  Fantastic result. The sheep are not specially picked, bellied or crutched.