Monday 28 March 2011

Cheviots again

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Shep's been at it again - getting a cheviot fix! (South Country Cheviots of course!) Yup, headed up over the border to see to these white woolly characters, they didn't disapoint and it was good to catch up with them, even though I'll be in their company for a full 6 weeks before so very long.

The beginning of April will see Tarset exhale a sigh of relief as Shep departs and heads north for my annual 'holiday' in the company of these cheviots on the scotch side of the cheviot hills. Not long now, but in the meantime I was invited up there to put them through the pens and get them innoculated prior to lambing.
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I was pleased to find they are fit, very fit. An exceptionally good cover of flesh on their backs and footy (lively) with it. I had almost forgotten just how lively these little blighters can be. Thankfully they don't have horns or my legs would have been ripped to shreds. They really are something else. Stone mad may sum them up quite well. They have absolutely no respect for man nor beast, permanently hell bent on being wild, boisterous and bolshy. But they do make me smile, infact on occasions through out the day they even raised a laugh.

I just have to take my hat off to their independence, their determination and the sheer spirit which they are possessed with, if I didn't know better I would be tempted to say they are possessed with the devil, however they are far too genuine for that to be the case. There is no doubt about it they are not a placid breed of sheep! If they were cattle they would have me running a mile!

I found myself pondering and grinning to myself on my return journey home. Driving there a minor knee problem caused problems, it was only an issue when I had to use the clutch pedal, on the way home I found the other knee had become a problem, minor and only an issue if I had to use the brake pedal! I recalled the occasion, the ewe refused to be stopped, just as the wicket was being closed in the pens she went straight through me - quite literally, like a ton of sheep meat she just barged on, no respect what so ever for me, I was in her way and would be removed (as indeed I was). The shepherd told me that he believed Cheviots were a young persons breed and recounted entering the house a number of years ago and telling his late wife that whilst attempting to dose the ewes he had found himself both physically and sexually assaulted by the blighters - that's a cheviot for you! They really can be a challenge, but fun with it!!
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Even Moss looks forward to the challenge, he must also like working with the white woolly characters as he was quite a cheerful chap when we took to the hill to help gather them, mebbes he's also looking forward to his 'holiday', pitting his wits against these wild white beasts.

Anyhow, I was really excited to be there and not because I was getting a cheviot fix but because I was there to innoculate them. Some may recall that last year my confidence took a knock, my temper kicked in before despair took over. Lamb Dysentery. A problem which I had thought I'd seen the last of once again reared it's ugly head. A cruel disease in lambs which kills. A disease which is easily prevented with pre lambing innoculating.
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Being an organic flock not all the sheep had been innoculated as it had been deemed unneccesary as some hadn't suffered from dysentery, well the dysentery caught up with those which hadn't been innoculated and the results weren't favourable. But not to worry...... this year they have all been jagged, by myself, I know they are covered, I know that there ought not to be a problem with dysentery this year, I am really excited at the prospect!!

I have to say, with hindsight, I feel quite fortunate to have experienced lamb dysentery as there has been hardly a soul I have spoken to on the subject can remember it. One 82 year old farmer I asked recalled that neighbours had sold up and left a very good farm due to the fact that they had to go around with a wheelbarrow at lambing time to pick up the dead lambs which had died due to dysentery, ironically, 2 years after they had moved on to pastures new a serum was introduced to be given to new born lambs, a fore runner to the pre lambing innoculation used today, a serum which was a turning point in lamb survival, a serum which was two years too late for one particular farmer.
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I drove back over the border and back home, hattered and battered, beaten and bruised, weary but happy. The ewes I'll be lambing are fit and well and full of hell. The countryside is beautiful, the sun shone and the top coat was discarded but most importantly they are innoculated - yipee!


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