Thursday 3 March 2016

Dances with Sheep

Unusually a post with few or no pictures for the simple reason that the camera is currently in the car and the car is currently not here; Liz is off gallivanting again. I may add some pics at a later date so that the post does not look so bare. Bear with me.

Rosie and Lucy shelter behind the bulk of mum from the wind
We are relieved to be able to report that Lily seems cured again of her infection but her route out of the Doldrums is almost an exact copy of the last edition - a day of 'doubtful', then picking up so much that were we silly we would be tempted to think we didn't need the 2nd dose of antibiotics, due tomorrow. This copy-cat cure is good in that she has recovered quickly, but a bit un-nerving in that we thought she was sorted last time and 2 weeks later, down she came again. Charlotte has re-assured me that this does happen in sheep and Lily could well take a few weeks to sort out. We will, of course, do the 2nd jab tomorrow and keep a watchful eye on her, and her 'sisters' in case of any repeat.

The sheep are all currently enjoying nights indoors, 2 because they have very little lambs who would not get on so well out in all this frost, wind, rain and (today) snow flurries; the 3rd (Lily) because she is sick. We are not over-run with sheep sized housing here, so this has us under a bit of pressure and some of the birds are now sharing a bedroom with some woolly companions. We have the Tígín and the former 'milking shed' both of which open onto the main hard yard. In the Tíg I was able to shift feed dustbins around a bit and create a patch of floor about 8 feet square (-ish) which, covered in straw, houses 2 ewes and 4 lambs but the place is a bit of a 'man-shed' so there is a risk of animals leaning on dodgy shelving or on the ends of tools hung up on the walls and waking up under an avalanche of bits and pieces.

The 'milking shed' is already sectioned off three ways with chicken wire 'walls' to create separate sections for geese, chickens and (later) the man-shed tool-ery bit of this was taken over by turkeys and Guinea fowl and a freezer we are babysitting for our house-move/build friends. This middle section left me just enough space to erect my 4 foot by 6 foot sheep-hurdle pen and now houses the third ewe and her lambs at night with the rafters above blocked in to stop the poultry roosting up there and poo-ing on the 'sheeps'.

All these bedrooms open, as I said, onto the hard yard but are also, thereby, quite a distance from the field gate. Liz and I temporarily have a little dance session we have to do to get sheep out and lambs out of the field in a controlled way and across the space to their bedroom doors, with the correct lambs staying with their mothers  and only 2 families going to the Tíg, and one to the Turkey house. The goat has also to be controlled to stop her nipping out of the field and going walk-about chewing the tops off tulips etc. We end up usually with Liz controlling the gate, sometimes while holding onto one lamb while I romp through the sloppy mud at the gateway trying to catch the other lamb or steer the Mum in the right direction. It usually works but has been known to take a while as ewes start to mill about confused, or make decisive darts towards the wrong doorway (e.g. the Turkey house which has already got an occupant at that stage).

In the morning it is easier and I can generally get everyone out of bed and into the field on my own mainly because if you feed the goat first, she is so focused on eating all the meal before any sheep get it, that she is not going anywhere. You could take all the fences down and she would still not go straying. You can certainly leave the gate a-jar while you steer a few sheep across the gap - the sheep are quite keen to get to that grass and the field anyway. I don't need to train the Westies as sheep dogs just yet. Come by!

A load of sheep and a goat.
Meanwhile, talking of bedrooms and housing, excellent progress is being made on the Sligo house rebuild. The internal walls are getting 'slabbed' (plasterboard or insulated dry-line slabs) so that you can now see what rooms look like (as opposed to looking at a forest of vertical stud-walling timbers). The main range has gone in, had its flue completed and spends some days lit, making the inside of the house beautifully warm and drying out the stone work of the old, original-retained fireplace superbly. Today we cleared the bathroom (which had been a bit of a stacking area for tools and bits) so that we could lay the bath, toilet and sink bits in some trial positions to make sure the shower location would work (and the changed them all and put them back). Once happy with the bathroom layout we were able to start Kango-ing up a bit of floor and drilling holes through walls for waste pipes and so on.

We also hung the posh new front door on the 'end' of the new porch and were then able to cut out the old, shorter one (pre-dating the porch) and its frame. Both K-Dub and I are 6 foot plus and if we had a quid for every time we have banged our heads on that we would be rich men.

Enough for this one, I think. Our next entertainment is to host Liz's Mum, (Steak Lady) here for a few days. She's up on a visit and wants to see the new baby lambs and generally enjoy the place and getting spoiled. Liz has a chance to do the hostess thing which she loves. See you soon, Mum. More on all this in the next post.

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