animal psychology, Humour

The Septic Geranium and Trans Lamb

A cade lamb, orphaned at birth and bought up by a silly woman and a clever dog will not be like other sheep. Aby has had her portrait painted, has been photographed for magazines (not Hello! but she was the centerfold for Border Life). Basically she is a celebrity — the ovine equivalent (in my mind anyway) of Joan Collins and also looking very good for her age.

Yesterday I found what I thought was a calf halter in the shed and I used it to tie a great sheath of brushwood to the wheelbarrow so that I could overload it like a Greek donkey and wobble to our “30 meter heavy duty compost heap” — our special habitat in the woodland. This is a safe haven for dozing hedgehogs, nesting wrens and the innumerable wood moulds and fungi that live in our little piece of temperate rain forest. Aby came with me for the walk.

On they way back I wondered if Aby was too old to be halter trained — she does after all identify as a cross between a dog and a human (a category that EIDCymru refuse to recognize on their annual sheep and goat inventory). As usual she was walking to heel. We stopped and I picked up the halter from the barrow and threaded it into a noose configuration — simple. Aby looked interested — lifting her head up to look at the circle of rope that I held in front of her. Without thinking I just slipped it over her head! She was pleased with this new award and set off to show it to Tex, her new companion with me still attached to the other end. As she ploughed on through the mud I was left behind — I tugged on the rope to demonstrate the principle of the process. The noose (for that is what it was — not a halter) tightened, she pulled harder. Not wanting to hang her, I let go! She headed up the hill. Her deadly pendant dragging in the mud and looking for something to grab hold of so that it could strangle poor Aby.

I gave chase — I grabbed — I missed — I grabbed again (this is fun) — I caught it as it circled her neck — she accelerated and swerved — I lost my footing and described a wide arc landing on my back in the mud (I thought “fractured femur — hospital — covid” but I didn’t let go) I was not in pain. Aby was no longer pulling. She was lying on her back with her feet in the air. What a piece of luck — she was caste — immobilized by that primitive quirk of sheep neurology whereby the do not work when they are upside down. I had time to pull myself together and remove her rope noose.

Our relationship may take longer to sort out — she stomped off feeling humiliated and totally let down and has been firing withering looks at me ever since. Like the car that rolls and has a dent on every panel, I was wet and mudded on every surface.

Thinks: must get a proper halter!

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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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