Tuesday 4 August 2015

Myfanwy (Price)

Myfanwy Price and Dylan.
Welcome aboard Myfanwy Price, a very Welsh name for a Southdown x Hampshire ewe. She is so named because she continues our run of female members of the cast of Dylan Thomas's Under Milk Wood which already includes Polly (Garter) and Lily (Smalls). She comes with a young (June-born) ram lamb at foot whom we have called Dylan (as in Thomas, of course). When I last posted we were all ready and with a working trailer tow-hitch, eagerly awaiting a phone call from Mayo-Liz our 'supplier' out by Kiltimagh.

Myfanwy and Dylan check out 'Hen and Two Chicks' on the
front lawn.
As it happened, the phone call came just as we were preparing to go out shopping for new bed linen. We were expecting Sparks and his good lady for an overnight on Monday and thought it would be nice to fit out 'their' room with all new linen. We were just drinking that final coffee before departure when the phone rang. I had to look pleadingly at Liz for a change of plan; she probably saw a future of trying to keep me focused on linen shopping when there was a ewe and lamb awaiting collection. Anyway, plan B was set in motion - hitch up trailer, nip to Kiltimagh to collect sheep, drop sheep back here, leave me to commune with new sheep while Liz took off for Carrick, solo, for un-pressured bedding shopping.

Our full complement on the front lawn.
Off to Mayo then and we knew where the pair would be even as we pulled up, so we got a good look at them over the split shed-gate before Mayo-Liz and husband Ray had even appeared to welcome us and we liked what we saw. The ewe is a relative youngster (18 months), so rather slight and slim compared to our 'mumsie' 3 year old and 5 year old, but she will fit in well with our plan to roll 3-4 ewes through the flock at 2-year age intervals. That way any anxious new first time mums can get reassurance from the calm, experienced old timers as their bodies go through all those unfamiliar and potentially upsetting changes.

We're big chicks now, so we want to sit
up in the grown-ups chairs.
The new ewe here is, in fact, a one time Mum and has her first lamb already with her; him a fine sturdy chap reminding us of our own first-born, Feste who was also 3/4 Hampshire. He is not quite weaned but he is big enough to need to kneel down to get at Mum's teats and she is already a bit impatient with him and walks off after he's had only a quick suck. Our plan is to put all three ewes to the borrowed tup (Rambo) at around mid September, so the ram lamb needs to be weaned fairly soon, so that she can come back on heat by then. We do not anticipate a problem. Ideally the tup serves all three ewes quickly on arrival, so that we get a nice synchronised lambing (Feb/March) but if she's not quite ready to stand for him, he will be around for a month and will catch up with her later in the visit if she's a bit slow.

Light summer fare ? In the awful wet weather we have been
lighting the range some evenings and using up frozen
winter-warmers like this haggis, neeps and tatties.
Rambo is good and ready and will almost certainly have tupped the ewe 'Pink' whom I sheared recently and may also have had a go at one of Sue's goats to produce a 'Geep'. The goat is looking very pregnant when we last saw her but Sue tells us that Geeps are a rarity. The mother (generally the goat) may go to full term but will usually pass only still-born 'babies'. However there are American 'experts' on the internet who say that, no, they have loads of them running about as fit as fleas. We wait with eager anticipation but also disquiet - no-one wants the gentle mother to suffer or even experience the anguish of still birth.

Not the brightest place to sleep, Soldier.
So, we trundled home with our new purchases and had a quick discussion on how to introduce Myfanwy and Dylan to our 'old' 4. We can no longer drive car and trailer across the front of the house and right into the East Field due to the new gravel/rose garden and the combined rig would ground out on the slope at the end of the cattle race.  Liz came up with a cunning manouvre where we move the 4 to the East field and then let the new ones in from the lane into the top of the Primrose Path. We were not sure of the keen-ness of the newbies to follow me and my unfamiliar feed bucket, but we knew we'd have no problem with the 4.

Some first outdoor mange-tout, went in well to the Indian
(Madhur Jaffrey) meal Liz cooked for Sparks plus one. 
The new animals got an hour or two alone on the front lawn while Liz shopped and they got their bearings and shouted much baa-ing conversation to the 4, one field away. When Liz got back we distracted the new pair while I ran the old 4 on to the lawn so they could meet. That went off as smoothly as you could hope, so, come 6 pm, all 6 were run back to the East Field to spend the night, a little minor stampede after my feed bucket which was actually led by Myfanwy and Dylan. Job done. Our little flock is now complete.

Another classic depression cruises up the Western Seaboard
- no Summer sunshine for us just yet.
We will have 'produced' 4 lambs this year which meets all our needs. We have had a little rash of friends and relatives asking 'can you do one for us' but we are not inclined to go down that road. However, we have an outstanding order in with our old friend, the elusive Scarlet Pimpernel, Kenny O'C. He never replies to texts, calls or voice messages but has been known to turn up without warning with a trailer of "the sheep you wanted" and if he does, he's such a nice guy that we'd not want to let him down by saying "Ahhh, but we've gone elsewhere because we thought you weren't interested....". We may end up with 9 sheep yet, these 6 and Kenny's 2 (female) store lambs and a breeding 'yow'. Don't put the Under MIlk Wood back on the shelf just yet.

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