Thursday 25 March 2010

The Virgin Birth?

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Lambs are appearing in Tarset, although many are not meant to be. I have to laugh every time I hear "Way! I don't know how that happened!" I mentioned in a posting in the back end about the ewes coming a raid. Ewes and tups get randy as the days darken but the shepherd has a set date for allowing them both together.

Sheep ain't that stupid and for some the temptation to realise their desires is so great that no fence or stone wall is going to stop them. Five months on and these rendezvous become apparent. There are some in the area who had lambs arrive in the middle of March, a month before the lambing date. An escaped tup can do an awful lot of damage in one night. Fortunately all seem to have managed to survive their misdemeanours and for all they have produced early they are rearing their lambs.

Only a week away before the earlier lambings begin in the area and 3 - 4 weeks before the hill ewes begin and still there is no grass. It has freshened up slightly, some wet days and a slightly warmer air has made the brown, barren fields appear slightly greener but the grass is still struggling to grow, it is so badly needed. I am hugely optimistic that a few warm days are on their way and the results of which will soon be there to be seen.

As for Shep, well one week left before I head away. The 1st April sees me heading into Scotland. The first fortnight I don't rightly look forward to. I will be doing a night lambing. The farm I lamb on has a small flock of 'field' Cheviots, ewes drafted in off the hill with one or two younger ages in amongst them for good measure. These ewes find themselves housed at night and it is Shep's responsibility to ensure their well being. My shift runs from 10pm to 10am. My sanity is saved by going to the hill every morning and feeding the hill ewes which will be lambing down a fortnight after the field ewes start.

When the hill lambing comes in I will be in my element.

I have a cottage to bide in whilst over the border, self catering affair with only a radio for company, but warm and fairly comfortable. Today has seen me buying provisions. A necessity to deal with 'business' things down in town gave me the opportunity to gather the necessities for living away for a while. My priorities seem unusual, or so I thought as I scoured shelves in shops to find the best deal on chocolate......... only one sort will do, good ol' dairy milk of a breed which has just been sold out to an American company. I did find a good deal and was laiden down with the stuff. I also had to reach the offices of our local weekly paper and take out a six week subscription - Fridays just aren't the same without the local rag to read!

Then there were cans of a caffeine based drink to keep me awake (all it will actually do is make me shake and will only be used in a dire emergency), as Shep is intending to be travelling home for the first 10 days to keep an eye on the sheep who's owner is still recovering from being trampled by them before Christmas. I really will be looking forward to settling into my little cottage and concentrating on the hill lambing!

My shopping spree found me laden with all that was necessary, I had a list. A trip to the agricultural merchants saw me trotting out with enough food to sink the dogs, gear I would require for the lambing, a fresh whistle in case I lose or swallow the one I've got, stomach tube, marker crayons (don't like those spray cans), hand wash (for the rare occasion), porridge.

Thought I had it all but in actual fact forgot the real necessities, y'know things like toilet rolls, toothpaste, washing up liquid......... But not to worry I've got the chocolate!