We’ve been planting trees again. Not the best of conditions as the ground is so wet, and snow and freezing temperatures forecast, but they were ordered back along, and now they are here – in they go.
We planted am almond, a mirabelle, a Dittisham plum and a bramley to replace the one that Betty (the sheep of little brain) ate.
Sheep and fruit trees are not a good combination, but with little individual fences round each one, it works, and the land can be used for both – and it seems some breeds are more tree eaters than others – we had no problem when we only had the Devon Closewools, but now we have the others, we are having tree nibbling issues.
It seems the minute we got the Shetland ewes – natural browsers and bark eaters, Betty decided she must be one of them and took to eating trees too. I suspect it is to do with her overbite.
Yes I realise it sounds as though it is the Shetlands munching bark and Betty getting the blame – but we have seen her: she even got stuck between two fences several times, and she climbs the fence – throws her front legs over the top, squashes the fence down and eats everything she can reach – then sometimes climbs in too.
And several of the fruit trees got nibbled – which is far from good for them. Disease can get in, and the tree suffers – if bark is taken off in a complete ring, the tree will die. The problem is she is so big – hip high before she starts climbing… and in the general umming and arring over which sheep to keep – this does not bode well for Betty.
At the moment we are trialling wool – Betty’s and the Shetlands, as that will be part of the decision. And anyway, we have freezer crisis – we need to empty freezers not fill them, so in the meantime we are fencing taller, wider and hoping Betty is held back long enough.