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15/4/14 Good News and Facts of Life April 16, 2014

Posted by dawnshifter in Uncategorized.
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15/4/14 Good News and Facts of Life

(If you haven’t already read ‘Smallholding Spring’ this will make more sense if you go there first) Relieved to find that Buttercup had her lambs the day after Ringlet, and they’re spending their days outside with the other ewes – with – lambs as the weather improves. The other aunties have settled down and stopped calling for lambs they don’t yet have.

They look a picture in the paddock, alternately dozing in the sun and exploring the vast green expanse – except I noticed the Portland lamb seemed a little bit stiff in his hind legs, but N put me right – P’s had to make a difficult decision since I was last here: six of the lambs born so far are rams and in big flocks, you only need one breeding ram for 40 ewes. So this is a bit of a surplus in the population. There’s no way there would be a market for that many whole rams, even in rare breed circles. So reluctantly, Pat’s asked her neighbour from the next-door farm to apply castration bands to these six.

Unwelcome as this is, there is an upside to the story: these wethers – because they’re no longer rams – will be able to stay with the flock beyond their first birthday. They’ll give their best fleece as shearlings, with more than the usual twelve months coat growth, and then be considered for the table. They won’t need to be separated out to prevent illicit couplings with relatives, and they’ll be much more biddable, less frisky. Just think of them as eunuchs at court if it makes you feel better.

16/4/14: Gathering In and Putting Out

The ladies-in-waiting know exactly where to go after a night in the pens, and are just as keen to come back in for the ewe nuts in the evening, so seeing to them is just about standing out of their way and giving them a clear run – a simple, single-handed job.

Not so easy with the ewes and lambs, though. Of course, the ewes remember, but they’re not going anywhere without their lambs. Now a ewe, if you stand in its way, usually works out that you want it to go the other way. Lambs though haven’t worked this out. They’re nippy, they only need a little gap, and they can jump over low obstacles. Oh, and they don’t stay together, so just when you’ve got a lamb moving in the right direction, and its mother tagging along, the other twin makes a break for it, Mum comes too, and as soon as you start to put that right, the first lamb takes advantage of the distraction to make its own bid for freedom. Multiply this by four mums and seven lambs and even three competent adults have their hands full. Twice a day. No wonder you don’t see many fat farmers.

 

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