Wednesday 11 April 2012

Lambing and the weather

My lambing over the borders commenced on the night of the 1st April. As morning came around I headed off to the hill to acquaint myself with the ewes I will be lambing in a fortnights time. Out there, on the hill, not in a shed and not during the night.

Posted by Picasa
Here they are, by jove they seemed fit. Might just take a bit more handling this coming lambing time. The sheep in the foreground have just received a bite of cake, not much, mebbes half a pound a head, the sheep in the background are being greedy, I have yet to reach their part of the hill and the race is on to turn them back to whence they came and give them a bite of feed on the ground which they belong.

It was good to see the girls again, they're looking well of that there is no doubt. The weather was dry and mild, a far cry from the roasting temperatures we had all experienced the week previous, more like normal April weather, quite pleasant really.

During the night of the 2nd of April it rained, not too heavy but rain all the same, I know these things, being a bit of a night owl, wandering around whilst everyone else is tucked up in bed, all I had for company was a shed full of sheep and the badger that took flight in front of me once over when I was returning to the cottage for a cuppa. No owls twit twooing yet, there is time tho'.

By the time I headed to the hill on the morning of the 3rd April the rain was getting heavier, the wind began to lift and as my route commenced the weather began to deteriotate, by the time I was heading in back to the steading the weather was truly atrocious

Posted by Picasa
the above photograph was how the conditions were down inbye upon my return - ugh!

I was fortunate that day, offers of help in the morning were given before I took refuge in the cottage and took no encouraging to hide under duvet and try to catch up on some sleep. I rose about tea time and upon drawing the curtains was somewhat dismayed to find the weather had not improved.

Posted by Picasa
Those lambs outdoors would be fine if their tummies were full and shelter was available. The lambing ewes had been held in the shed all day so new lambs were also fine. Shep commenced duties earlier than usual to allow the shepherd an early finish, a warm at the fire and a well earned sit down.

I listened to the radio, trying to get an idea of weather conditions throughout the country. Radio two is my preferred station and their weather forecasting is abyssmal, all I was able to find out was that there might be snow in the south tomorrow - what about us?? Do we not exist?? I also learnt that a giant panda poos 30 times a day - now there's a useful fact to have stored in your head!! As for weather conditions in the north east of England or South East of Scotland I was none the wiser, coupled with the fact the cottage 'phone was out of order and there was no mobile reception I defintitely was none the wiser!

The pens in the shed were full of new born lambs and much moving around was necessary during the night to accomodate new arrivals. The wind howled like only an arctic wind can, flurries of snow persisted throughout the night. It was cold, bitterly cold.

Posted by Picasa
Morning once again saw me head to the hill, my third morning out to the hill, it was the 4th April, every morning to date the weather conditions had been different, there's nowt like a bit of variety in life! Ewes were fine out there but had all been blown off the ground they ought to have been on, no problem on that front, when conditions improved they would return home.

Posted by Picasa
That the wind had blown there was no doubt, the snow had also frozen ground was glistening every direction I looked - hard on the eyes as the sun reflected off the whiteness causing a bright glare, a pleasure to behold all the same

Posted by Picasa
The strength of the wind had blown through the gaps of the wall giving the snow a honeycombed effect on the sheltered side, the photo really doesn't do justice to just how intricate the resulting natural piece of artwork was.

Posted by Picasa
We were fortunate on the amount of snow which fell, especially as it was accompanied by such a strong wind, it left the surrounding countryside looking beautiful without causing too much grief. One of the in bye lambs died, a very unfortunate scenario. A large single lamb, with such a kind mother she had managed to lie on it in an effort to tuck it in and keep it safe, the lamb would suffocate under her bulk and was found stiffened in the morning. Other than that all was well, we are nearly a week on now since the snowy day and other than odd little pockets of snow lying in dips and hollows everywhere is once again green. Weather has been relatively dry, sometimes even mild, good lambing weather at the moment, lets hope it holds on for the hill ewes beginning to lamb.