Tuesday 20 March 2018

Lit From Within

Polly (centre) and her twins (top right) are back outdoors
24/7 again. 
In our experience, at about the 3 week mark, a ewe who has lambed indoors and then been allowed out with her babies during the day from about a Day 7 suddenly wants to go out full time. Some instinct seems to tell them on around Day 21 to stop co-operating with the evening-ly attempt to shepherd them 'home' to the shed.

In-flight refuelling. Bábóg takes on food
out on the front lawn.
Ours give us a big run-around in the yard, refusing to allow themselves to be either tempted in with the magic food-bucket or cornered and driven in. After a few minutes of this 'messing' we get the message, throw open the gate to the East Field and wish the family well as they sprint for the wide open spaces.

Bottle fed ewe-lamb 'Bábóg' looks in fine form at Day 8
Sometimes, Mum has a re-think and decides, because it's a bit chilly perhaps, that she'd like to go into the shed after all but hey, it's too late by then. If you hadn't 'misbehaved', you'd be in there. Have a good night.........

The annual name-plate for the collection screwed to the front
of the pig ark. 
Obviously we are not completely heartless and we'd not be putting (or letting) these families out into a snowstorm or the teeth of a 'Beast From The East' gale, but the ewes seem to pre-empt this and only 'ask' to be let go on warm evenings. So out went Polly with her ram-twins on Sunday (18th) at their Day 19 and they look very well on it. They are so tall now that when they dive in for a stereo suckle, one either side, they both drop down onto their elbows to get their chins low enough to still be able to latch onto that teat aiming slightly upwards.

3 dogs meet 3 piglets. The pigs were not coming within range
of those dodgy and dangerous looking white beasts.
This move also freed up one of the lambing pens in the Tígín and allowed us to move the bottle fed ewe-lamb, Bábóg, out of the Living Room. She was becoming very happy with the warm evenings by the fire, strolling round with her 'comet-tail' of intrigued Westies, stealing naps in the dog beds or nudging Mum's knee for yet another feed. Unfortunately the laws of physics say that if your lamb is consuming a litre of liquid each day, then unless she inflates or explodes, she is likely to need to unload a litre of liquid too. Enough said.

Settling in well.
She needed to be an out-door lamb, hanging with Mum and her brother. Mum tolerates her near but not actually suckling. Nurse Elizabeth has to nip out to the front lawn several times a day, where the lamb will spot her and home in on that bottle like a cruise missile. We are very pleased with her. She is thriving under this outdoor day, housed at night lifestyle and in another week she will join Polly & Co. on the 24/7 outdoors.

A very shaggy dog. Long overdue for a clip but every time I go
to do them it seems to start snowing. 
We have to confess to a little wobble with her brother, though readers may just think we were being paranoid after losing, 2 years ago, a 3-week old lamb who hunched into a proper "hungry lamb" position (knees and elbows touching) and would not respond to bottle feeding. In the last post you'll have read that this mother (Rosie) went sick and may have 'dried up' (no milk) briefly.

Blue giving something the evil eye?
We got the vet to Rosie and all seemed to be well with her but neither of us had seen the ram-lamb suckling, he looked about a week behind our bottle fed fatty, and he seemed to be starting to 'roach' his back (hunch). However, every time we tried to offer him some of the bottle he was half-hearted at best and his belly seemed to be full to bulging. It was a big relief when this Mum and Son were milling around the yard that day while we tried to chase Polly, when we saw the lamb's response to this confusion was to dive in for a suckle. We have seen him suckle many times since and he seems to have suddenly recovered to maybe only two days behind Bábóg. ....and relax.

The chicks stay close round Silvergirl's feet when there are
other hens about.
The chicks hatched by our grey hen 'Silvergirl' are also doing well. She brings them out every day and shows them the yard and the cattle race. With baby chicks I make sure several times a day, when I spot that Mum and chicks are in a secretive spot not overlooked by any other hens, to sneak them some extra food - either the chopped hard-boiled egg or chick crumb. That way they get full bellies without being out-competed by the 'aunties'. They are a fine looking bunch.

Mid March so the alder catkins are now open.
The pigs are settling in well despite their first few days here being beset by bitterly cold East winds which blow straight in through their ark doorway. They have a good foot of fresh straw in there, so they could get well hunkered down, buried among that but today it turned warm and I could enjoy the sight of 3 sleeping pig-flanks lying in a patch of sunlight streaming in through their doorway. Legs, tails and heads were all 'submerged' so I bet they were warm as toast. They happily came out for a slice of melon, mind you. They are starting to know me, my voice and my hi-low whistle that tells them food is in-coming. I am very happy with them too.

Our last-year hatch gosling has finally decided whether to be a goose or a gander. She laid us an egg yesterday so, we suspect she is the former (!). For the moment we have 3 laying geese and we are doing very well for eggs. Not many move through the Honesty Box, but we have plenty of outlets for them and they are very popular with guests. We also like a goose egg for that dippy-egg breakfast of Champions.

Apple buds starting to expand. They look
as if "lit from within" said our good chum
'Charlie' Moss.
Finally, I loved an expression used by our good friend Charlotte (Charlie) Moss, of 'C. Moss Perennials', grower of perennial plants based in the nearby Curlew Mountains. When describing buds of various thorn bushes which expand with a pink tinge, she said that they "looked lit from within". I loved it for it's up-beat, Spring-like flavour and thought I'd share it with you, old romantic that I am..... maybe.

Equinox Sunset. 
That's about it for this one, except that it is, by some reckoning, Vernal Equinox today, so it was lovely to have a really blue sky, windless day with a lot of heat in the sunshine. I am told that modern Equinox-spotters go with the exact second that the plane of Earth's equator splits the sun's disk in half, which was 16:15 pm today. Fans of the Olde Irish calendar and Druid history prefer to go with which day has its length nearest to 12 hours in your neighbourhood. Nearby town Castlerea achieved this back on the 18th. You pays your money and takes your choice. Happy Equinox, everybody.

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