Tuesday, 23 February 2016

Inventive Suicide???

The patient recovering.
It seems to be a "truth universally acknowledged" (if I may borrow from Jane Austen) that sheep are constantly on the look out for new methods of getting sick and dying, inventing new methods of committing suicide and that shepherds have to be as constant and inventive at trying to stop them and keep them alive. That, at least, seems to be the reaction many people will have to your announcing that you propose to keep sheep.

Some cold mornings but at last the days are sunny
They are rather like the stereotyped garage man who looks over the lady's car with a sharp intake of breath and a theatrical grimace before he makes up his list of the things (£££££) that he will need to do to make it right. There is orf and joint ill and watery mouth and scours and 'gunged lambs' and prolapse and mastitis and clostridium and scrapie and and and and.... you get the picture. None the less, people actually do keep sheep, some very successfully and it can go OK, believe it or not. Our own experience has been mercifully lacking in all these woes though we know of some sheep which have died (Rambo, the ram we borrowed, for one, last year) and a friend on Facebook has had a nightmare week of lambing involving lambs born dead and a ewe dying of sepsis. Touch lots of wood; long may our healthy outcomes continue.

Gorse in flower on Kiltybranks
We did have a little 'wobble' this week, though which we may have caught in time. On Saturday last I woke up to do my first livestock rounds and straight away knew something was wrong. Lily, with her lambs in the 'turkey' house was NOT shouting for her breakfast through the door of the outbuilding, impatient for me to open it and pass in some 'crunch'. I mentioned in a previous post that this was a lady who loves her grub and is always first in the queue. Not that morning; something was clearly awry.

The "pool of the dappled horses".
I completed my rounds and went back for a closer look. Lily was not touching her 'crunch' (a mix of grains and molasses), and did not want hay. She just looked miserable and uncomfortable. One saving grace was that the twin lambs were resting contentedly so were obviously still getting plenty of milk. Lambs do not take long to get hungry and these two were quite loud in their demands (they take after Mum!). An hour later I had decided that this was not going to be a 'keep an eye' job. I could hear those spoilers' warnings ringing in my ears. It was time to get the vet, and we had her on site by 11 am.

She quickly diagnosed a slight temperature and a dribble of rather nasty matter from the vulva which spoke of a small amount of retained afterbirth going infected. Lily got 2 BIG injections of different stuff (one anti-fever, the other an antibiotic to combat the infection) and the vet left me a 2nd dose for the Monday (having showed me how to administer it - it was to be my first intra-muscular go). She also warned me (un-necessarily in my case) to be sure and do the jab even if Lily seems better as well as to warm the mix first (e.g. under an armpit)  and to fire it in very slowly to prevent the needle blowing off the end of the syringe. Lily was to be kept in that day but could be let out for some real grass Sunday and onwards.

Not everyone gets this kind of water feature in their new garden.
This river runs along the Sligo house boundary and under
the main road via this bridge.
She seems to have made a full recovery. Slowly at first, so that I was beginning to doubt whether she was, in fact, getting better but then suddenly perking up on Sunday afternoon. At that stage she was trotting about the lawn obviously grazing away like a pro, followed by her still-thriving twin lambs. I had put her on the front lawn 'field' because the grass is better there after it has been rested since Christmas. She was happy enough to be led 'home' to her turkey house pen in the evening. She has then gone from strength to strength and has had her jab on the Monday. Liz helped with that, holding the front end against the pen-side while I did battle with the big thigh muscle but we needn't have worried; the warmed gloop slid in so gently that she didn't bat an eyelid. A good rescue, we think, and huge thanks to vet, Aoife, our guardian angel against 'suicidal' livestock.

Good progress on the Sligo house roof - real slates!
Guest-goat Nanny Óg is looking at methods of getting murdered instead of the suicide thing. She is currently driving me barmy by raiding the food dustbins at night. She has learned how to flick off the lids and is then necking as much of the contents as she can fit in. Not only is she likely to do herself an injury with bloat or indigestion but I no longer know whether her increasing fatness is a pregnancy or just plain over-eating! I tried wedging the lids down with sacks of feed or trays of catfood tins and later tying them down with baler twine but she learned to toss the weights off the offending bin, or moved onto other bins (she doesn't seem to care - 'crunch', milled barley, whole wheat and layers pellets are all grist to her alimentary mill). She even learned to tip the bins over to save her having to rear up and stretch her neck down into the bin to get at the crumbs at the bottom. She has eaten me out of house and home, that gannet! She then has the brass neck to look at me at breakfast time  'asking' for her customary carrot - she can't reach those because the bag is too high for her!

The west end prior to the block walls getting their pale
'scratch coat' plaster. This gable is not yet ready to be
finished as the electric company need to remove their old
cable, currently strapped to the old chimney.
Ah well. No other news except to show you these few pics of the excellent progress on the slating of the Sligo house roof. K-Dub is still working to a target move-in date of between mid April and mid-May. I have also been out felling ash and logging it up for a near-neighbour and I have made contact with the local archery group and organised myself onto a beginners class, but more of those two stories in a future post. Also, the next ewe, Polly, is due to pop in a few days, so no doubt more on that. Just praying for now that it all goes well and I can report that mother and baby/babies are doing fine.    

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