Late spring 2013

The swallows returned to Church Farm Cottages about 3 weeks ago, and have nested in the sheep shelter for the second year.

Earlier this year the barn owl box was occupied by a pair of kestrels and in late April / early May our guests saw a kestrel taking food back to the box, although it was rather early for their young, so the male was probably feeding the female, who sits on the eggs. About 2 weeks ago, for no apparent reason the kestrels left the box, and have not been seen since. Although the barn owl is in the vicinity, it has not taken up residence in the vacant box. The owl can be seen in the hay fields opposite hunting for voles and other small mammals, and one morning, returning from a successful hunt, it flew down the caravan site holding a vole tightly in its talons. Colin Spencer, who has stayed in our cottages on many occasions, has kindly allowed us to reproduce the photographs he took in late April this year of the barn owl in the hay fields:

barn owl 2 colin spencer










barn owl 1 colin spencer

















During the winter, word has it, that two red kites were released in the locality, and on clear days have been soaring in the skies around Gresham. One morning one landed in the ploughed field adjacent to the hay field, and Colin captured the photograph below as one of the red kites flew over him in the hay field.

red kite colin spencer
















At the beginning of May we took four ewes and three rams to a farm near Wyndham for shearing. The lambs went for the ride as the ewes refused to board the trailer without their offspring.  The two older lambs, Lily and Arthur were left behind as there wasn’t room. They baaed incessantly all the time the ewes were away, and on the ewes return the lambs ran up to the trailer to greet their mother, but which one? With her fleece shorn they didn’t recognise her and carried on baaing until sometime later when finally the three were reunited.

Harold, who was sickly at birth, continues to flourish and at 8 weeks weighed 24kg, more than both Lily (21kg) and Arthur (19kg) at the same stage in their development. Recently, as part of the Hampshire Down weighing scheme, we weighed both Lily and Arthur at 21 weeks, they weighed 40kg, which is around half the weight of their mother.

We are now training the rams and the older lambs to walk with a halter, for showing at the local agricultural shows. Presently they are having the halter fitted on alternate days for an hour or so, to enable them to get used to it. Next week we’ll start walking; patience and coaxing appears to be the key. And as the warmer days finally arrive, and the fleeces begin to grow back, we will apply the pour on spray to guard against blow fly strikes.