Thursday 31 May 2012


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Oh... so refreshing! It rained, indeed is still raining. We are a funny bunch, complaining it's cold, then it's hot and now it's raining....... Shep ain't complaining, it was a pleasant change to have the wet stuff come out of the sky, fortunately it was mild with it which is always a help. Working in wellies and leggins again, top coat donned - a refreshing change it has to be said! Although it would be hoped it won't be a permanent fixture.

There was a down side to appreciating the mild soggieness of the day - midges! Them little monsters which so enjoy coming out to play in mild damp weather. They detest extreme temperatures, hide away on hot, cold or windy days but a day such as today was an absolute treat for them. 'Tis funny how ones memory forgets the discomfort these miniscule airborne characters cause, until....... they appear once again. A small price to pay I'm sure for being able to enjoy a refreshing showery day!
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The lamb marking season is well under way. It is almost three weeks since Shep returned from over the border and many lambs have been handled since then, hopefully another ten days ought to see the job completed on the farms Shep visits.

The lambs above have been shed off their mothers, easier to handle without ewes careering around in the pen with them, they are also less likely to get hurt as the adult sheep are more than capable of running over the top of these little chaps. The lambs will find themselves caught up and held up a height on the top rail of the sheep pens. There are a number of jobs to be done to them on this their first visit through the sheep pens.

These lambs were born from the 16th April onwards and so vary from six weeks of age and less, this is their first main health check. They will indeed be marked, with a keel mark to ascertain who it is they belong to and also what sex they are for easy reference later in their lives.

Every farm varies as to the tasks required doing to their lambs, some need to give lambs a worm drench, others don't. Then there are ticks, some need to prevent infestations of ticks on their lambs and again others don't. Some farms put a lug mark on their lambs, a notch or hole cut out of the ear by means of a set of lug marking pliers, this being a permanent reference to the ownership of those particular sheep. There are such a variety of tasks from farm to farm that it can be easy for Shep to get confused, having just got the hang of one farms preferred methods before moving onto another farm with different requirements. Doesn't take much y'know to befuddle the grey cells!
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Hoggs are finding themselves run off from the main flock as well, not that they are going to be lifted up onto the top rail of the pens to have bits and pieces done to them (god forbid!). No, they are starting to think it is time to be shorn......... Blimey! we're getting to that time of the year again!

Shep's been shopping - I know, women love shopping. Shep don't love shopping - never has, but this is different. A new cable for the clipping machine, the outer cable cracked towards the end of the season last year, was wrapped with tape to see the season out but now a new inner and outer cable has been acquired. Then there was the clothes shopping......... A new state of the art pair of shearing trousers, which fit! and look so nice and clean and respectable. Last years pair are still wearable, however, a lack of concentration caused a blip with the hand eye co ordination thing and a few stabs with the handpiece at the knees sees the jeans rather raggy in places - quite serviceable at the moment but I'm sure splashing out on a new pair wont hurt. After all, it is helpful to have one pair in the wash and a clean pair to put on.

The lamb marking season saw Shep back over the border for a couple of days, catching up with them there white, wild, woolly cheviots. MY lambs were looking well, it was so good to see them again although disappointing to find some were suffering from orf (watch these postings - coming soon!), on the other hand it was a relief to find others which were lame had foot scald and were not suffering from the joint ill type infection which a few lambs had gone down with towards the end of the lambing. The lambs were really thriving and weighed heavy when lifted onto the top rail of the pens to get the bits and bobs done to them, fortunately they don't have horns so injuries to the handlers were minimal. And guess what? Shep's lamb count was up on last year - now is that exciting or not? I was forever hopeful, especially with the number of twins (and triplets) which were born but I was also well aware that the Crunchylaw sheep may well have let the side down, the only cut lambed in an enclosure were the ones which suffered the most losses amongst their lambs. Fortunately for Shep the other three cuts of sheep which lambed out on the open hill brought the odds up and although not a massive increase on last years lamb count it was an increase - what a grand way to retire from a lambing!
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On that note I will leave you with a picture of one of my sets of triplets (there were only three sets). This ewe off the Auld Faulds cut nursed these lambs for five days before I had the opportunity to lift one and set it onto another ewe. All three are still running around the hill but as a pair and a single and now much bigger than in the picture.