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Archive for the ‘sheep’ Category

in all the commotion, and yes there was a fair bit going on, I forgot to tell of new arrivals:

sheep and lambs
New sheep, this ewe (Geraldine) only has one side of her udder working, so no good for breeding from, but we don’t intend to so that’s ok, she comes with her twins – the girl lamb (Gilly) got the good side but the boy (Godfrey) was bottle fed – he’s eating grass now, and will soon catch up in size with his sister. They are all poll Dorset, but clearly not all that pure, as Gilly has black around her eyes, the tips of her ears, hooves and scattered through her wool – as we like naturally coloured wool, we will be interested in seeing how her fleece turns out.
fiesty and chicks
In addition to the ewe and lambs we also have had chicks.. lots and lots of them – too many really… and the latest lot (fourth hatch of the year) were hatched under our new broody – given to me by the lovely Sandra from Bellecross hens – and this hen is mean when broody.. but a good trait in a mother I think, as she is very protective her her charges

It’s all go in other areas too, in the veg garden and house renovations, and getting out and about too. The flower garden has to manage itself – I’m all about the cottage garden
home sweet home

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shearing day

before
It’s been a funny spring, with a warm April and a cold start to May, making picking the moment to shear hard to choose. But this last week we have had some quite hot days and showers, and so today was the day. Who knew there was a 7am on a Sunday morning?
17764880305_9581be244a_o
The shearer did his usual swift and professional job and the sheep were happy to be let back into the field one by one, minus that heavy coat, and sniffed at each other trying to recognise who was who. Apart from Betty obviously, who can’t be like the rest of the flock:
betty looks for her coat
Instead she seemed intent on finding her coat before leaving.

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new sheep

new sheep
We have way too much grass.  We meant to buy some more sheep at auction, but with the roof and kitchen renovations and general life stuff getting in the way, we sort of missed our moment,  and when we finally got our act together and went to the market, we saw some nice looking  ewes with lambs, only they were still heavy with wool, and ours had been sheared.  It would have been a pain to organise shearing again, and add to the expense.

Whilst I was looking at the lambs a nice lady came over to us and chatted to us.  Turns out they were her sheep.  And furthermore she keeps her sheep on our neighbour’s field.  We exchanged numbers, has a good sheep related chat and now her sheep have been sheared and we have bought a ewe and her lambs.

The ewe is a little unsure, but regards humans coming into the field as a potentially good thing. Hopefully we can win her over.  She has light grey wool, and it will be interesting to see how that grows out.

So we now need to think of some names – F for this year – we are still only beginners, our neighbour is on her second time through the alphabet.

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UntitledThe shearer has been, and our girls are all tidy and much, much cooler.

Every year I wonder if we should do the shearing ourselves, and toy with the concept of buying the equipment, because the moment we think it is time they were sheared, is, of course, the same moment for everyone else.  Having a small flock means we are not big customers.

And every year, when he comes, I realise what a skill it is, and how much better to have someone who knows what they are doing.  The wool is in good shape – very little double cuts, and cut close to the skin.  Mostly better for the sheep as the whole process is over in a flash, with no cuts, or damage.  He takes care.

It’s always funny afterwards as the sheep don’t recognise each other at first… there is some nudging and remembering – I guess they don’t smell right!

So now we have four cooler sheep, and  I can worry less about them.

 

sheep minus wool

And we have more fleeces to wash, card and spin. Betty’s fleece gets greyer with every year, is a variety of shades in one and is big! – The grey colour is lovely and I have my eye on that for myself..

wool

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sheep staring

Today I was walking around checking the hedges after the storm, and approached the orchard from the larger paddock, which surprised the flock as they were expecting me from the other gate.  They know my routine, this was a change.

They stood and stared at me.

I opened the gate to move them on – there isn’t much grass and the fields are badly poached due to the waterlogging and so I have been forced to break the usual rotation, and put them where there is actually some grazing.  Which was confusing.

They stood and stared at me.

I made my “sheep-sheep-sheep! “noise, reserved for nice things only (so that they respond) – and they decided that good things must be forthcoming and pushed themselves enthusiastically into the fence.  Everyewe knows the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence.   The problem is that with the layout of the orchard, they were now standing as close as they could to me, stopped by the fence, and although they could walk through to the paddock, in order to do so, they would have to turn and walk away from me for a few meters, through the gate and then down the path to me.

They stood and stared at me.

I encourage: ‘sheep-sheep-sheep!’

You could see Betty, work it out, suddenly she turned and rushed away…. then halfway to the gate…. not looking at me any more… couldn’t remember what she was doing and stopped…. and wandered back.  Ella did the same: rush off….no longer see me…stop… forget what she was doing… Then the flock press themselves ever keenly against the fence – not walking around through the gate which is sooooo close, because the minute they turn they cannot remember why they were walking that way.   Sheep – not the sharpest tools in the box.

I stood and stared.  They stood and stared.

They win the staring war. I sigh and walk all the way up to the gate, make my encouraging noises,  they work it out, and rush into the field.  Then grump, as the grass turned out not to be too much greener after all.  I grump cos I am now soaked.

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It is that busy time of year when everything is hatching and growing and the sudden warm weather means all the plants came out of the greenhouse and want to go in the ground, and we find ourselves outside still watering at 10pm
Vorwerk chick

We had a hatch at the weekend, this time a mix of Vorwerks and French blue marans. The Vorwerks were a bit of a whim when I was having a bad day – they are striking looking chicks, with reverse colouring to their future adult plumage.
brown-neck and chicks

We snuck them under a broody hen and she is a very proud mum.

cool sheep
Thankfully we booked the shearer with perfect timing and he came at an unearthly time on Sunday morning and sheared the sheep, and they are now cool sheep.
duckling
The ducks failed us, and the second hatch only gave us two ducklings.. we may have to pop duck eggs under broody hens at this rate.. but one of the ducks is laying again so we live in hope.
plants
Mostly though, it is about the veg, trying to compost and plant and all of the plants want to go in at the same time.. ie NOW! The cold weather suddenly passed and it all became a bit urgent and late too. However we are getting there.

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new sheep

new sheep

Last week we acquired a cull ewe and her two lambs at foot.  As we have opted not to lamb for a while, we have to have new stock, and remove older stock, and this seemed an easy way.
feed time

The new ewe is lovely – already approachable (especially if there is a bucket involved),  and she has nice soft wool.  The lambs are adorable, inquisitive naughties, yet chunky and strong too.  They are all polled Dorsets.

three faces in the bucket

They settled in… apart from… the Shetland ewes are not having any of it.  The other ewes couldn’t really have cared less, a bit of ceremonial headbutting – all over within a minute.. and forgotten, but the Shetland ewes are  – well – mean.  With a lot of sniffing and assessing, they are ignoring the ram lamb (perhaps a masculine wiff?), don’t try their chances with the much bigger ewe, but seem intent on killing the ewe lamb.

It’s not just a little bit of pecking order, but real attacking including leaping in the air to land onto her.  We have tried a mix, then just tried the older calmer Shetland. but it’s a no go. We expected some argie bargie – but this goes beyond a little settling out.

Typically of course, we had planned to keep the Shetland ewes and let the others go… now it is looking like the other way around – it is a shame but we have to be able to introduce new stock.

They are separated until shearing, and then we shall reassess.
eric

Meanwhile the new crowd – named by our son: Ella and her lambs Eric and Evie – are getting used to us and becoming friendly.

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