Friday 10 September 2010

Heatwave in Tarset

I do recall mentioning the fact that Tarset was experiencing a heatwave, in many ways summer had returned even though there was no doubt we were really heading into autumn.

The heatwave turned out to be a mini heatwave, although greatly appreciated for the time it lasted.

The week of the heatwave saw Shep helping the shepherd away out bye to gather his hill ewes and get the fat lambs sorted, store lambs spaened (weaned) and keeping ewe lambs retained. Misty mornings caused a little grief as gathering early is the key to success but heading out to the hill tops in a thick mist is unlikely to result in a good gather.

There was an added complication, a different sort of heat. A bitch on heat!! The shepherd out bye runs bitches whereas I always have dogs. My abilities to steer Moss were on occasion a tad erratic as his mind often seemed to be elsewhere, his nose and hormones taking him in a different direction to my intended route! Once sheep were gathered in a heap ready to be driven to the pens it often paid for one of us to hold back in a bid to ensure 'puppy making' didn't happen!!

Friday 3rd September was the foggiest of the lot, resulting in not heading to the hill until twenty to ten in the morning. Usually sheep would be penned and breakfast enjoyed by this late hour of the day, but not this particular morning as we headed out in the coolness of the dwindling mist.

Once the mist burnt off completely the temperature rose dramatically, sheep had been determined to head 'out' as opposed to 'in' due in main to the lateness of attempting to gather. Dogs had had to do a lot of leg work to encourage the blighters to turn around and head in the direction intended and the temperature kept rising....

It was close to midday when the pen gates were closed on the sheep and they were held secure ready for the work to commence. The back of my neck was feeling the burning rays of the sun and the dogs were heading for any wet holes they could find to wallow and cool off.

There was pressure on to get these sheep gathered and sorted as a wagon was booked in a day or two to take all the fat lambs away and off to the slaughter house - a deadline had to be met. I recall last year having problems with the weather also, slightly different problems, ones which involved a great deal of rain as covered in last years posting -

It was a pleasure to be able to go around all day wearing boots instead of the customary wellies, vest or t-shirt rather than soggy top coats. Sheep also look their best in good weather, when dry of their skins they are fluffed up and bloomy looking - pleasing to the eye.

All was looking well. Everyday which we'd allocated for the job was needed to get all the sheep sorted and lambs drawn. The result being that on the final evening everything was successfully gathered, ewes and lambs were held in fields ready for the following day when each field would be individually gathered, fat lambs would be run off their mothers, tagged and left waiting for the wagon to arrive. Store lambs would also be run off, dosed and put onto fresh ground. Draft(old) ewes too would find themselves shed off, dosed and kept in-bye whilst all the regular ages of sheep and keeping ewe lambs would be returned to their hill ground. All this to be done before the wagon pulled into the yard in the afternoon - nae bother, extra staff on hand and it would be done!

The wind rose that night, branches came down, the rowan berries which to date the starlings still had not raided came off the tree in handfuls. We had a gale, followed by rain. The following day was a wet one. Lambs looked nowhere near as good as they had days previous, wet and bedraggled they were but the job went on and the deadline was met.


Dr Clive Dalton said...

Great Blog Helen - the 'back end' is certainly a busy time on a hill farm as you describe so well.

It's time to sing 'the Dosin 'o the hoggs' when you are waiting oot-bye for the fog to clear! The words are on my blog.

Interested in your comment about putting sheep onto 'clean' ground ( that hasn't had sheep on for some time) after dosing. This hopefully ensures most of the active worm larvae have been reduced

This used to be good husbandry but because drench resistant worms are increasing in sheep worldwide, we in New Zealand have stopped this practice as it allows the 'drench resistant' worms to multiply as the chemical has killed the non-resistant ones.

We now put newly drenched lambs on 'dirty' pasture so resistant worms can mate with non-resistant worms and delay their total worm resistance.

And we don't drench the best-doing sheep in the mob so they remain a reservoir of non-resistant worms to mate with resistant ones.

Teks a bit 'o gittin yor heed aroond eh!

Keep up your great blogs

Tarset Shepherd said...

Thanks for that Clive. There are now similar practices of dosing beginning to reach some of these parts, we always seem to learn from New Zealand! You lot lead the way and eventually we follow!

I recall the dosin' of the hoggs very well. Adam Jackson sang it at a housewarming of mine years ago - great song, must get the words off your blog.