Spring has sprung and summer has come, with all the beautiful shades of green from spring barley to birch trees. Wild Farm is a rich mix of fields, native woodland and heathery hills and after a winter of bland colours and snow ( a rare sight last winter though ) it is great to see the rich green colours return.
New growth of vegetation means welcome fresh food for all the animals on the farm. From rations of silage and hay over the winter they can now enjoy fields of young grass to feast on. With this abundance of growth it is perfect timing for red deer calves to be born. June is the main month for calving and the hinds slip away from the herd to find a quiet spot to calve.
Last year we were lucky enough to witness one of our hand reared hinds ‘Willow’ calve and the following sequence shows the first faltering steps of her calf.
While the hinds are busy calving and producing milk for their new born calves the stags are well into growing their new velvet antlers. This process starts when the old boney antlers from last year fall off. In fact the newly growing velvet antlers ‘push’ the old ones off. The mature stags are the first to lose the old antlers, they need to get on with growing the new set, which have just 3.5 months to grow. By June the antlers are well developed and to produce this mass of bone, they need plenty of good spring grass to feed on.
Red deer calves are very secretive when they are new born, hiding up in long grass for at least 2 weeks before they join their mother with the herd. So by the end of June we are starting to see the calves gathering together, enjoying each others company and running around and playing like spring lambs.
Basking in sun is not a habit restricted to humans sunbathing on the beach. Our ‘free to roam’ Marans ( hens that lay the most beautiful and tasty dark brown eggs ) are the first to find a sunny spot on the farm.