Tuesday 18 March 2014

Dogs and mess!

This article was published in the farming press recently, unfortunately the farming press isn't often read by dog walkers and so I have decided to share on this page in the hope it will reach a wider audience.

"FARMERS are pleading with dog walkers to clean up after their pets when walking on agricultural land.

Parasites found in some dog faeces can result in the abortions of cattle and death in sheep and with several reports over recent months, local farmers are asking the public to be more responsible.
Neosporosis can cause abortions in cattle and is thought to be responsible for the highest percentage of all cattle abortions reported in the UK. Neospora eggs are produced by infected dogs and excreted in their faeces. Cattle will then become infected if they eat grass or drink water contaminated with the eggs.
The prevalence of the disease in herds, and its potential impact on farm economics - due to infected cows being more likely to abort, premature culling and reduced milk yields - make this an important disease to try to control, farm unions including NFU Scotland have said.
Sarcocystosis is also caused by parasites, which can use dogs as intermediate hosts, and similarly the eggs are produced and excreted in faeces. Sheep will become infected if they eat food or drink contaminated by the eggs.
The presence of these parasites on a carcass following slaughter can result in the carcass being condemned. The disease can be passed on from ewe to lamb during pregnancy.
In terms of both these diseases, faeces from infected dogs can contaminate pasture and animal feed, water or bedding. There is currently no licensed vaccine or drugs available for these diseases.
Animal Health and Welfare policy manager for NFU Scotland, Penny Johnston said: “This is becoming an increasing problem for many farmers, especially when located on urban fringes and is an important issue for dog owners to be aware of, both for the health of their own pet but also the livestock grazing on that land.
“Those utilising any agricultural land to exercise their pets should do so responsibly and clean up after their animals to avoid the spread of disease.”

It is also worth bearing in mind as the lambing season nears that farmers are entitled to shoot a dog they believe could be worrying their stock before reporting the incident to the police, please, please, keep your dogs under control at all times.

Wednesday 25 December 2013

Seasons Greetings

'Tis the season to be jolly! 
Shep would like to wish everyone all the best over the festive season and a healthy and happy 2014. 
The best I can manage at the moment is to share with you this 'old' clip, it's been around for some time now but might just light up your day. 

Thursday 28 February 2013

To brighten your day

I just can't help myself and once again share a link with you all. There seems to be something about the Scottish farmers, they do seem to be able to enjoy themselves and portray bull sales as no one else could. I hope this brings a smile to your faces as it did me.


Wednesday 20 February 2013

Spring is springing

Aye, if we awoke from a long sleep we may be forgiven for thinking spring is here. Middle of February and the weather is looking up. It's been dry! and the sun has shone and Shep is convinced she heard the skylark yesterday away out on the hill top. Snowdrops are a mass of white at the moment with the daffodils poking their greeness out of the ground ready for the next month or two.

There is hope, optimism that all is getting better on the farming front, nowt quite like getting the sun on your backs to give a lift to any occasion, mornings are fairly cutting out, light by 6.30 on the frosty ones and holding back 'til closer to 7 on the slower moving mornings. Remaining light until 6pm see's an opportunity to work longer hours and enjoy the weather whilst we've got it.

Pockets of snow are still hanging around some of the hill tops, sitting like mini glaciers where the depth of snow blown in by the winds is refusing to shift in any great hurry, shift it is tho', but now being a solid, frozen mass it is taking longer for the heat to get through it and melt it away.

Scannings are well through, with only a handful left to deal with, results don't seem to have been as bad as many anticipated which is always a bonus, much concern about protein levels in sheep however as dry fodder in the form of silage and hay isn't always up to it's expected quality due to the horrendously poor climatic conditions when it was made.

Hill ewes are going about their business out there on those vast areas, not quite waddling yet unlike the earlier field sheep which are beginning to show signs of being in lamb with their bellies growing. It is less than 6 weeks until the 1st April when many of the in bye flocks of Tarset and surrounding areas will be commencing to lamb, a very important time in the health of the ewe, one which will decree how healthy her lambs will be and how much milk she'll have to feed them with.

It is amazing how quickly memories of wet, wet days dissipitate when enjoying a spell of dry, sunny days. Ground is also drying up, albeit slowly, but drying it is. Long may it last!

Monday 21 January 2013

Snow warning

We had an yellow snow warning, then we were upgraded to an amber snow warning, I always thought snow was white - ah ha!  I now know what the forecasters were on about........................
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Amber snow! or is it yellow? pretty rare stuff I doubt coz most places you look it has a whiteish hue about it.

Aye! It snowed, quite a change from Thursday
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Thursday saw the covering of snow we'd had melting away nicely, okay, this isn't exactly a picture of snow, the hard frosts we'd experienced made the stuff run off roofs and duly freeze, now the freezing was dripping (yes you're right, it took me ages to catch that drip in mid air, must have nowt better to do!) 

So, that was Thursday. Friday saw hay being frantically laid out for sheep, Friday afternoon saw sheep being hounded in to lower ground, where the hay was laid out for them, ready for the onslaught, and it came, right on cue, this was the yellow snow we'd been warned about. It wasn't until today, Monday, that the amber stuff appeared, again right on cue. The weekend had seen as much feed put out for sheep as possible before the onslaught of wind and snow hit them and had them blocked out from the comfort of feed and security.

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This picture may not exactly show signs of comfort and security but at least if they should get happed with snow in these driving winds I'll know where to find them.
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As for old Glen, so long as his lugs are sticking up I'll be able to find him an' all!
Thought you'd all enjoy this link, showing the highs of farming, a cheery compilation http://youtu.be/iWdFTa7UNPs

Monday 14 January 2013

Christmas Past, New Year Present

Aye! Time flies when you're having fun. It has been brought to Shep's attention, by good ol' Dafad, that this blog has been somewhat overlooked of late - apologies to all and sundry, but it is fair to say that I really don't know where the time goes.

It seems ages back since Christmas, a day where Shep enjoyed the company of family, although it is fair to say we all seemed to have a lump in our throats this year, I did try my hardest to honour the request I received " We need you to fetch the Christmas cheer, we don't feel at all Christmassy"

Christmas morning actually found me out on a hill top, perusing sheep (what else) it was as though the world was at peace with itself, not a soul or a sound, just sheep lying peacefully and contentedly where they ought to be, dogs happy to get their legs stretched and Shep happy to have peace and tranquility coupled with the wind on my face.

As is so oft par for the course, the 'Christmas holiday' period saw the onslaught of the sniffles causing all those visitations upon friends and family being cancelled as hankies and bed were often the chosen company. Tups were brought off hill ewes on the run up to the new year and New Years day dawned in a special fashion.

Special? A frost, no wind and wait for it.................. NO precipitation - what better way to start the new year! We even had sunshine!! What more could anyone ask for?? I also found my.self in good company, enjoying the pleasure of following the hounds for the day, being invited for new years dinner and mixing with many friends and acquaintances throughout the day and night. A great way to start off the New Year.

Time is flying by, won't be long now until the scannings are in full flow again, sheep are once again being treated for lice, liver fluke is an issue with some flocks, wet is an issue with all farms and livestock. Should the jolly news people and the climatologists be right that we are to expect much of the same for more than just months to come it will leave farming in a dodgy predicament, indeed it may well put many farmers out of business as they struggle to produce either live or dead crops from their sodden ground. A gloomy thought for the new year but unfortunately one which does need consideration. However, we will remain optimistic that the weather will improve, drying winds will come our way, paddy fields will disappear and be replaced with sound pasture ground which we were once accustomed to seeing, we will get the sun on our backs this coming summer and all will be well in the world.

Here's wishing everyone a healthy and happy 2013!

Monday 10 December 2012

The wanderer returns

It's tup time, so the wanderer would of course be a sheep - well? wouldn't it? After all, sheep are wandering with a mission at the moment, either ewes looking for a fella or the tup looking for a floosie. We are just getting into second time over on the hill tupping front and I would imagine all shepherds have their fingers crossed that there won't be too many ewes a wandering; looking for a fella to fulfill their desires. Now the boys ought to be wandering, desperate to find that elusive ewe who slipped the net first time over and desires the company of an amorous male. Time will tell just how the boys faired first time around.

You may have noticed Shep has been missing for a spell, I did make the return trip from Dalmally away back when (so long ago I can barely recollect) and since then there has been much to do and coupled with the fact there was no broadband connection for a fair duration this blog has found itself put on the back burner so to speak. Hopefully some normality may return, I once again have contact with the outside world which is a godsend as the weather has been somewhat arctic of late, making travelling and visiting a no go for those of us who are wusses on the roads, unless they are perfectly dry and the sun is shining!

Shep hasn't had time to partake in any winter sports, it's fair to say that a fear of 'getting hurt' would probably ensure I wouldn't wish to partake in any winter sports other than making a snowman, but regardless, there hasn't been time for such frivolities to date. I did manage a little bit of sledging however..........

Tup harnesses - awful things! A contraption worn by the tup (sire), strapped around his belly and shoulders to keep a coloured crayon in place on his brisket. Why? Well, when he jumps up onto a ewe he very kindly leaves a crayon mark behind to confirm he served her ( it is hoped that is what it confirms, in reality it only tells you he jumped up onto her back).

It is fair to say that over the years Shep has had little to do with tup harnesses, hill tups rarely get strapped up, it seems to be some form of in - bye bondage, the hill lads aren't into that fancy stuff!

It was necessary this tup time for Shep to strap a suffolk tup into his breeding attire, now that in itself was a challenge, working out where all the straps went around his huge bulk. He wasn't even a friendly beast, and had me dancing around the pen as some form of shepherd baiting took place, his head was definitely harder than my legs. It was a relief to get him backed into a corner and tied around the neck to a rail in the pens, my legs might get to see another day and not find themselves snapped like matchsticks.

Unfortunately, squashed up to the railings in the sheep pens meant only one side of him was free to work on at a time, so the battle ensued to get tup harness contraption untangled and re tangled around this heavyweight chap. There was much chuntering and head scratching went on I can assure you and after a fair duration I concluded that all lose ends were tied up and the crayon was in the correct place, right between his front legs sitting on his brisket - success!

It was a huge relief to release the chap to a field full of ewes and let him get on with the job in hand.

Two days later I noticed something was amiss, a ewe that had been 'served' seemed to have a crayon mark on her hip rather than on her rump and sure enough good old friendly suffolk tup was tracked down and it was noticed he was now wearing his crayon under his nearside lisk (okay, simple terms - left hand arm pit!). More head scratching ensued, from Shep, not the tup. How on earth did that happen? Pretty obvious really, my incompetence at dressing the beast had caught me out - humph!

I was going to have to get a hold of the fella and redress the situation. Memories of shepherd baiting flashed back in an instance, this fella really didn't appreciate the feminine touch the first time, he probably wasn't gonna walk up to me in the field and ask for assistance was he? The sheep pens were a fair old distance away, the roads were solid ice with a  covering of snow and any vehicles brave enough to face the treacherous conditions wouldn't be happy to find a shepherd and flock of sheep on the road would they?

Not to worry, I'm sure greed would get the better of the fella, a bag of cake would surely take his attention long enough for me to be able to get a hold and so I duly returned with a bag of cake (sheep feed). The ewes soon came forward and started guzzling the pile I laid on the snowy frosty ground, the tup? well of course, he held back, suspicious, memories of being tied up in the sheep pens fresh in his mind. - Humph!

More piles of sheep feed laid out, in a tight circle, more ewes guzzling............... eventually he couldn't help himself and did indeed come forward and joined in with the feeding frenzy, unfortunately every time I felt I was slowly closing in with bag in hand as a decoy he backed off, neither of us really wishing to get to close to one another.

I concluded I was going to have to spring into action, attempt my infamous rugby (sheep) tackle and hold on for grim death until he succumbed under my enormous weight - easy!

More little piles of cake were laid out in an increasingly smaller circle, yet more ewes guzzled and finally he dropped his head in amongst the melee, I pounced, fingers locked around the harness which was strapped around his chest and off we went. I tried desperately to throw all my weight upon him and wished instantly that I'd had enough common sense to have started this daring ambush on the level, not the steep as he careered down hill, his 100kg bulk gaining speed with every stride with me skidding along beside him on my belly, side, back,...... bouncing off every frozen bumpy bit hidden under the covering of snow that the field seemed to possess (why is it fields look flat and smooth?), it seemed every angular bit of my body was managing to clatter against something frozen and hard as I trailed along at increasing speed and totally out of control of the situation.

I dare say teeth were clenched, I know there were no swear words uttered, it took me all my time to get my breath, steely determination set in as we neared the roadside, fortunately the roads were very poor for driving upon so hopefully no one would be trundling by, but I could still feel my pride hurting. Time to take control, I managed to swing my legs past his and he cowped (fell) over, there was a huge feeling of relief, elation and success which quickly evaporated and was replaced with a deep feeling of despair as I found myself lying there and with the tup up on his feet and his heels kicking up dust (snow) as he disappeared into the distance, harness flapping around his lugs (ears). The strap had snapped, pulled out of my hands and left me quite literally downtrodden - so much for sledging!

Moral of the story? The lazy mans way isn't always the easiest........... he found himself gathered up, out onto the roads and down to the sheep pens, tied to the rails and sorted. He's never come forward for the cake bag since!