April 10, 2013:
Gosh has it been a busy week...but not on the lambing front. The ram we used obviously had a week's holiday so there's been a full week's hiatus in lambs. The first lamb for the week arrived this morning...a bonny little girl. Seven still to lamb. Shaky, the ewe with ketosis, has been holed up in the shed for the last three weeks receiving some TLC. She has responded well to her special supplements and, in fact, gets a wee bit put out if she does not get her special feed in the mornings. We have also been giving her a mix of black treacle and a few secret ingredients, which she loves! She's like a kid, though, with half her meal plastered all over her face. Her condition has improved dramatically and if she does not lamb tonight, she will pop! She did break out of her stall the other day and ran for her life to the the top of the field. Taking pity on her, we left her out in the field for the day until she dashed back inside when she heard her feed bowl being replenished. I am getting worried that our flock is becoming more like pet lambs with all this feeding we are having to do. Well, we have a sprinkle of rain as I tap on the keyboard, and certainly some warmer temperatures, so hopefully this means we will get some grass growth soon.
While our lambing activities have quietened down, Kelvin managed to get the wire on the posts in our dog play area. We finally have a secure fence line between us and our neighbour. No more puppy high jinks up the hedge line and gleeful dashes across the neighbour's field. We also fenced around our new shed to stop the dogs from running up to the hill in search of sheep. This gives us another secure area for dogs.
Today we also managed to burn our huge pile of garden prunings sitting smack bang in the middle of my small training field. The pile has been a year in the making, and we've had several aborted attempts at burning it. With the dry conditions of late, we finally had blast off...mind you, it wasn't the smartest of things to do a massive burn in the middle of this drought. For a while there I was seriously worried we were going to start a massive fire. Thoughts of the fire brigade arriving were top of mind..and it wouldn't be the first time. When we lived in Canada....well, that's another story!
As we were burning the pile of rubble, we discovered a great big tunnel, indicating some beast has been making this home. It looked like a fox den...which could just be since we discovered a half eaten lamb down in this area, a dead heron not far away, and the feathered remains of two of our chickens. Unfortunately the lamb was one of ours. The (very) small mercy is, it was a ram lamb and not my precious ewe lambs. We were gutted to see the heron had been killed. This manificent bird has frequented our pond for several years. It has a mate which is still around. Herons obviously aren't to the liking of foxes as it has been killed but not consumed. Kelvin and Bailey saw the fox the other night and Bailey chased it as fast as she could. We have not seen it since. We have been bringing our ewes and lambs in at night, closer to the house, and patrolling the field more vigorously at night. We also have been keeping a closer eye on the lambs during the day but with only one field with any sort of grass, we are really limited where we can put our stock during the day. No killings for a few days now.
We were off trialling on Saturday. I went first thing in the morning and took early runs while Kelvin looked after the farm, and then when I headed home, Kelvin left to take his runs and judge the afternoon trial. It was not a good day for our household! I ran Cian for the first time and his run was nothing to write home about. I retired him at the first drive gate after missing it...and that was all my fault. Sioux had her first run in 7 months...and I mean, she hasn't run a step in 7 months due to a leg injury. I wasn't expecting miracles from her. After a fantastic outrun and lift, a sheep decided to keep turning on her and while we got to the cross drive in a half decent, although time consuming, fashion, the sheep pulled heavily up the field and that was pretty much the end of the run. We did manage to get one sheep through the gates but not because of anything Sioux or I did! It just ran through on it's own accord. The shed was practical but certainly not pretty, and no pen. Oh well, we live to fight another day. We've been out training a bit this week but Sioux can still do very little. Frustrating! Kelvin's Blade injured himself on the outrun so Kelvin retired him on the fetch. He has a toe injury and is hobbling about. Bee didn't have a good day on difficult sheep. We won't mention the pilot error!
I decided to tune up my wee Penny yesterday...she's coming off lambing and aside from having to relearn to keep her teeth in her mouth, she needs some fitness work. So, yesterday I decided to send her up the hill on the most difficult outrun we have. I spied a sheep off to the left, away from the others, and thought I would see just how well Penny knows her bend outs. ...she needs work there! I bent her off to the left to gather this ewe...only to realize, too late, that it was on the other side of the fence. Now I only figured this out when I saw Penny squeeze under the gate to the neighbour's farm...and that was the last I saw of Penny for an hour. She normally has a fantastic recall...but no amount of whistling had her recalling to me. Kelvin was off up the hill to find her and me in hot pursuit behind. I searched high and low for her to no avail. I figured she'd be on the neighbouring farm somewhere, so I searched all of the back fields. Kelvin searched the lower fields and just as he was about to give up, he heard our neighbour calling various dog names. He decided to explore...and found our neighbour calling Penny all the names of their own dogs thinking it was one of theirs. Penny was trying to get the ewe out from the middle of all the other ewes and lambs and bring this one back to me. Afterall, that's the one I told her to bring! It must have run bat out of hell back to their yard, Penny in hot pursuit. Of course once the dogs are over the top of the hill they can't hear any whistles at all. Kelvin brought Penny back to me...and I couldn't have been more pleased to see her. After a big hug, I decided to work Penny on the hill...we were there, so why not. She worked like champ! Now this morning, I put Penny up the same outrun...pulled her in before the gate, and hey presto, she did it well. I'll leave the bend out training for another day when there are no sheep on the other side of the fence. I've had enough stress and excitement for the week!