Friday 29 April 2011

Lambing Cheviots in the Cheviots 2011

This is the fourth year Moss and I have lambed these white woolly characters on these steep hills. We soon learnt on our first year lambing south country cheviots that they are wild and yes, woolly too. They needed to be treat with the utmost respect if you expected to receive any respect back from them. Never look them in the eye and be firm but kind.

Well! All that has worked well to date but this year?? Blimey!

I did report that I had been invited to innoculate these sheep prior to lambing and that they were fit, dangerously fit. Well they still are - fit - dangerously so.

They are so kittle and skittish, even the kindest can easily be worked up into a frenzy just by looking at them. It feels like this year they truly are a challenge.

The weather has been awesome, we are still experiencing sunny days albeit accompanied with a cold wind. There is grass everywhere although recent hard frosts in the early mornings have nipped the grass back just a tad.

The sheep are tremendously fit and kind with it. So kind they are stealing lambs off other sheep. Those that haven't lambed are so hormonal and motherly they are preying on anything which is lambing. A great deal of concentration is needed to ensure nothing gets away with a lamb which still has a belly full in her.

Usually lambing out on the open hill the problem of thieving is minimised due to the fact the sheep have a vast area to live on and can head off to a spot of peace and quiet to have her lambs. This year that isn't working too well and the thieves are on the prowl, causing havoc with gimmers (first lambers), they are more than capable of beating the actual mother off the lamb and claiming it as their own, with the consequence that the mother no longer wants it back as it smells differently. Oh boy! have they kept me on my toes?!

The ewes have managed to throw the book at me this year, just about everything you could imagine could happen at lambing time has. The thieving obviously, prolapses, mastitis prior to lambing, mastitis after lambing, hungry lambs, bunged up tails, rabbit holes (vanishing lambs), lazy lambers (due to the heat), two very difficult lambings to sort, 'drunken' lambs - you name it, they seem to have tried it. And on top of all that the sheep are wild. I have now got two gimmers away without lambs, both didn't take kindly to being handled, both smashed pens ro finally escape, neither looked back for their lambs - stuff them! there is always a kindly soul in need of a lamb somewhere.

I may well be some sort of masochist but I am actually enjoying the challenge. Moss is learning to be steadier (if that's possible), they weather is a great help; there have been very few groans of despair. There is no dysentry - yippee!! I have had sheep disapear over walls, through fences and smashed their way through rails but it's all good fun ....... honest!

Kale is ocming along nicely, learning to herd the hill and remain with the bike not chase off after sheep, although he did get run over which caused the heart to miss a beat but all was well. Moss is in his element and like myself has risen to the challenge. I am tired and looking forward to getting shed in (gathering lambers nearer to hand), which will enable a bit of a lie in and hopefully give me some energy to socialise in the evenings and catch up with some freinds. The car is still off the road although is now at a local garage.

All in all everything is going well, a great variety of 'problems', but then that saves you getting bored with the same old monotony and keeps the grey cells ticking. I have to say though wild sheep and thieving don't mix too well. My god, they really are wild this year!


Kevthefarmer said...

Just for fun.... Her we are in New Zealand, it is the end of April (=end of Oct. in northern hemisphere, the leaves are falling from the European trees. I only have a tiny flock now, I sold most of my white sheep to a neighbour to concentrate on market gardening, so I left the tups in 'til midsummer.
This week I had four lambs born,(all singles) must have concieved end of Nov (=end of May (north.hem.) two or three months after previous lambing. Seasonal breeders???? No. Lactation Anoestrus???? No again! Aah, but two of them are from Hokonui Hill ferals, and two more from East Friesland cross Romney dams.

Tarset Shepherd said...

Hey Kev! Do you count that as a bonus then? Late lamb crop. Have seen a sheep which was lambed at the spaening which would have been Aug/Sept time but equivalent to Oct? That's a fresh one. Hope the grass holds out for them