Sheep farming

Gladys is a metaphor

You remember Gladys —

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Left for dead but, given half a chance, she grabbed life by the teat and refused to die.

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  She’s still with us.

SONY DSCShe is at the bottom of the pecking order but is fearless and curious  (or bemused).  She is always last.  She’s the one that is missing, when one is missing — caught in the fence, or with her head stuck in a bucket, or wound  up in brambles, or trapped behind the gate, or stuck in the mud, or on the wrong side of the stream.  I’ve told you before that if you turn a sheep upside down it stops working,  shepherds call  this ‘being caste’.  Gladys falls over and becomes caste and frightens me to death, thinking she’s dead with her legs in the air.  I turn her over and off she trots.

When a stray dog approaches their field and the young sheep run together uphill (that’s the way to go) — Gladys runs the other way.

In Nature, she’s the one that would be picked off by the predator.  That’s  her role, her niche — she’s the sacrificial lamb .  I’ve told you before — sheep are biblical.

She’s different.  She’s the loner — the innocent — the vulnerable adult (just).    It’s my job to look after her.  She’s top of my list.

She is the unpromising success, the unlikely survivor, the loveable underdog, she is Kettering Town winning the FA Cup and a cat with nine lives.

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Hill Farming, Humour, Sheep, Uncategorized

Long Multiplication

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Our sheep are blooming — all except one.  The 19 ewes are due to lamb from about the 5th April, we expect one or two each day for a fortnight (we were watching the ram carefully) and now  we are watching the ewes very carefully and feeding them well.

Number Twenty-four is giving concern.  She is under-weight — skinny in fact (perhaps she’s barren this year) — and the others are bullying her and pushing her away from the trough.

Looking poorly

Looking poorly

She was one of ten that we bought from a friend at six months old, they were very good, hardy ewes but. after last years lambing which followed a terribly wet winter and blizzards in the spring, we decided to reduce the size of our flock — the catch-phrase at the time was sustainability. We don’t like parting from our stock so when the original breeder, who had had heavy losses, offered to buy them back we were very pleased but we did keep one — Number Twenty-four.  We have figured out that the loss of her cohort (the little battalion of half-sisters that she grew up with) has knocked her down the pecking order of the flock.

Not only was she thin but now she was scouring (no — not cleaning the yard — it’s farm-speak for having diarrhoea).  So we forgot our amateur psychology and got her in and treated her for worms and fluke and kept her in the garden for extra rations (and daffodils and to prune the roses — the scouring has stopped and she has perked up.

Perked up

Perked up

Sheep are amazingly gregarious — a flock animal — but also amazingly adaptable. If they can’t get to the flock and, believe me, they will usually find a way to escape separation, they will find a replacement.  That’s the trouble with sick sheep — no sooner have you put them in the yard than they are sneeking in the back door or standing on the veranda watching TV through the window. This week Twenty-four has been sitting by the bonfire watching us burn brushwood.

Now in the morning when I go to the post with the dog and (if I haven’t fed them) the two cats, Twenty-four  tags along too.

When is a sheep not a sheep?

When is a sheep not a sheep?

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