Sunday, 11 January 2015

Allowed Out

On the fourth day, Mayo-Liz decrees that the new lamb should be allowed out of the Maternity Unit (we'll give it the proper name of 'bonding pen', where you keep Mum and lamb in close proximity to make sure lamb gets a good dose of colostrum and the pair get well bonded before being released into the bigger field where they might get separated now and again). Saturday morning, then , we were delighted to find that the recent burst of vile wind and rain was done, the warm air-mass shouldered aside by some cold air; we had blue skies, little wind and bright, drying sunshine. We pulled the pallet 'gate' out of the way and carried the lamb at ewe-nose height across the yard, closely followed by both ewes, setting the lamb down in the shelter in the East Field to get his bearings (and snatching a few pictures).

You are advised to keep the indoor time to an absolute minimum. Sheep man Kenny actually does not do it at all - he lambs out of doors with just big round bales dropped into the field for protection from the wind. I assume he is fox proof. Although you are doing everyone a favour in terms of warmth, dryness and safety from the fox, what you are also doing is potentially upsetting the sheep by enclosing them in entirely new and unfamiliar surroundings with a complete change of diet - green grass to hay and 'nuts'. In our case, even the 'nuts' were changed because it coincided with me running out of the old left-over "fast sheep crunch" and moving onto ewe-and-lamb ration. These abuses can upset the sheep's digestion and lead to diarrhoea (sheep-folk call this 'scour(s)' ) and Lily was, indeed, starting to scour in the pen, so needed to be got back out onto grass.

Well, the move all went well and all three sheep seemed to be delighted at the new space. The lamb, we had only seen moving around in the 8 foot square of the pen, so we were delighted at his speed and agility once released into the field; no problem keeping up with his Mum. He looks, to us, a fine, healthy lad and Charlotte (who knows a lot more about sheep than we do) also pronounced him fit and strong. He is 'big' anyway on account of being a singleton (no twin to share the space with) and will now benefit from all that milk to himself and Hampshires are known to be good milkers. He seems to have enormous feet anyway, if that is anything to go by!

The clear, dry skies, though, were not to last the morning and the forecast predicted that we would get bands of snow-squall cloud through the afternoon. I checked with Mayo-Liz that this release, once achieved, did not have to be permanent and it would be alright to round everybody back up at 'bed time'. She thought that a perfect solution (we have all seen enough film of poor Welsh mountain sheep farmers digging their flock out of snow drifts). The gang are on a day-release programme, then, shepherded out in the morning and back at 4 pm, like the geese for a few days. We have put off the brave hour of letting them stay out over night. We may be being ridiculously soft. We had a few flurries of snow but it came to nothing.

Lily motoring down the field with Feste keeping up easily.
The 2nd ewe, Polly seems happy to stay 'Auntie' at present and is keeping her gunpowder dry. We are fairly sure, based on the comment Mayo Liz made that she was immediately very keen to see the (proper) 'tup' (ram) in November that she had not been got at like Lily. There is a good expression locally to describe ladies of loose morals  "Ah, she's no better than she should be!" and that is now how Lily gets described but I say it takes two to tango.

There you have it then for this post - all quiet, the way we like it. Maybe Polly will go the distance to the end of March and it will all break out again but it never does to count your chickens before they hatch. Lily is sorted on the scours.

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