Friday 13 April 2012

Bright eyed and bushy tailed? - NOT

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The 10th April dawned, Shep left the shed and headed out to the hill. To find a lamb, as shown above, not only a lamb but a hungry one at that, it had not managed to find out where the milk supply was - great news as the weather worsened.

Shep continued around the hill to find another sheep had lambed out on the Crunchylaw, the only cut of sheep which are brought in to a field to lamb. Unfortunately this was a dead lamb. The weather was still worsening.

A quick turn around, dry top coat gathered up and back out to the hill to attempt to resolve the problems. The wind was cold, as was the sleet. It really felt like a grey day!

Problems got sorted and Shep got into the cottage at lunchtime, falling into bed without a bath only to rise again at 5pm and set off to gather the Crunchylaw into the enclosure, if they're wanting to cause trouble they ain't gonna do it out on the open hill if I've got anything to do with it!

The sheep in the shed that night kept me busy which would be expected when the hours of sleep had been few. They had once again found themselves housed all day due to the weather and had obviously hung on as long as possible in the hope they might get out into the fresh air to have their lambs, they couldn't hang on any longer...

Fortunately the 11th dawned fine, a greater bonus was to go around the hill and find there had been no fresh arrivals - yipee! Although the hungry lamb had still not quite connected with the tit and more assistance was required, but she and it were held in a secure area, there was no running around out on the open ground to try to sort the problem.

The cruchylaw were dropped into the pens upon my return from the hill and hoggs run off, there is no need for them to remain in the enclosure, they won't be having lambs so they found themselves with their backsides kicked back out onto the hill ground out of the way.

It was almost mid afternoon when I hit the sack, sleep came easily, rousing didn't.
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No more lambs until the 12th April, well, no more lambs on the hill is what I ought to say. I had already come across a pair in the field out on the top of the auld faulds cut, they were both sucked and full, not a big pair of lambs but a very kind mother who would keep them safe and sound, hopefully the next day they will be footy (lively) enough to walk down into the twin field. (remember - none of these sheep are scanned)
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Having passed one lamb on little heugh I then passed another, both were sucked and full. All was well. A total of three lambed that morning. It was the 12th April, these sheep aren't due to lamb until the 17th, or is that the 16th due to it having been a leap year?
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Shep got back in from the hill and did a head count as I passed the field of early lambers, the beasts I tend to throughout the night, there were still over 40 of them - 40! Sigh!

It is that transition which I really don't look forward to, when nights become days and days turn into nights. There is nothing can be done at the moment, all sheep need tending to. I really hope the hill sheep behave themselves - break me in gently, coupled with a deep longing for the shed sheep to put a spurt on.

Unfortunately all is not well within the shed, or ought I say field, depending on day or night. It would appear lambs may be suffering from dysentry. A problem I had on the hill a couple of years back and is now resolved by the ewes being innoculated. The field sheep however aren't innoculated, due to the fact they've never shown signs of dysentry before, it could make my blood boil if I let it, having dealt with the problem on this farm it is hard to believe that not all the sheep are covered, so much for the idealism of organic farming.

There's not just the problem with lambs, I mentioned that one night I had treated a sheep with calcium and magnesium, a sheep which had gone down. Well there have been odd ones and it was whilst studying one one night in the shed that I thought I may have come up with what the problem was.

I had been toying with mild twin lamb disease, or mild staggers when as said I spent a fair bit of time studying one particular sheep, one which I had treated the night previous. She was lying with her neck outstretched and nose pointing skywards, occasionally she would stand and do the same. I was racking my brain. Something in my head was telling me about 'stargazing' but I was struggling to recall what it was.

I usually carry my bible - the tv vet sheep book - with me at lambing time, but forgot this year so was unable to rifle through that for inspiration.

By morning I was able to ask the shepherd if he thought it could possibly be listeriosis, an illness caused by soil in the fodder, an illness I had only seen once before many years ago. Linked to feeding silage to sheep, soil collected in with the grass then wrapped ferments along with the grass and as I don't have my bible on hand I can't really tell you what happens next, except I was pretty sure 'stargazing' was a symptom and it definitely makes sheep poorly.

It is thought that it is possible this could be the problem, I thought these sheep were only fed on hay but apparently they had been on silage, I am also told that there is a months incubation period before the symptoms show and that basically there is no succesful treatment - Aah well! there you go then!!

So, nights are turning into days, there are still a number of shed sheep to lamb, there are problems on the ground and in the tummies. Pre and post lambing issues coming from all directions - happy days!

They are! Happy days! Life can be too short to let them be anything other than. Frustrating, annoying, tiring, of that there is no doubt but as I often say - character building! Definitely educational.