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.
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.
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?