19 February 2020

Susan Helps Out

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While I may not be the most adept at training sheepdogs out in the wide open fields, in the confines of the handling pens I am much more confident. Susan has helped us with several jobs in the pens so far. She's very quick to pick up on where the sheep are to be driven and while she does try to egg the sheep on, she's not so pushy that the sheep are unsafe. An essential balance to have, especially with pregnant ewes like these ones.



On this day we were injecting the ewes against fluke prior to lambing and then footbathing them. Susan and Fly were our helpers. It always helps to train a young dog if they have an older, more experienced dog to copy.









She's getting more confident - sheep can be scary up close.





Fly, Susan and I pushed batches of ewes into the race for their injection.



Helpful Fly.



The last few (they always squeeze into this corner).



Once the injections were all done, it was footbathing time. I didn't take photographs of this because I was concentrating on making sure Susan didn't go into the footbath or drink the acid. After going through the bath twice, the ewes stand on the concrete for ten minutes to allow the bath to do its work. We actually finished just in time as it was starting to rain.

My little helper puppy.





The ewes waiting patiently. After all this they get a fresh field of grass.









I'm really pleased with Sue's progress. Still a long way to go but she's doing great.

18 February 2020

Fool Me Twice

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This year I have had very bad luck when it comes to photographing the "ordinary" sheep in the fields. Most of our sheep enjoy sheep nuts and come running to the sound of a rattling bucket, so I thought it would be a good idea to go into the field with a bucketful of nuts and shake it and photograph whoever comes over. When I went to photograph our early surprise lambs, the two ewes ran away rather than come over. It's winter, they're hungry, and they ran away from that free meal at great speed. I was baffled. One Sunday, I decided to go out with a bucket to photograph our gorgeous Suffolk ram lamb, and I should not have been surprised that he decided to run away this time either. Sheep. Honestly.

Of the whole flock of tip lambs and adult tips, there was only one who accepted my offering. I wasn't surprised who it was either. This fella is something else. Dad bought him as a large lamb at a sale in late 2018 and at first we didn't really notice anything super special about him, but as time has gone on he has proven himself a real character.

He's incredibly quiet. Every morning he greets us at the gate and comes right up to us, sniffing and licking at our hands to see if we have any nuts for him. I haven't seen a single hint of aggression in him. We're naturally wary of these tips as they can be very dangerous but this guy is quiet as a, well, lamb. I'm still cautious around him but he's remarkable. The other tips, "normal" boys with a fear of people, now come over for snacks too.

He has no name, but he looks like a "John" to me.



On this day all but one of the boys ran off, and the ewes in the next field all came running over.









Look at these silly boys.



John ate his fill and wandered off. He didn't mind that I was there at all.







A good boy.

15 February 2020

Ciara's Snow

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Last week Storm Ciara blasted through the country and brought with it the first snow of the year. Usually at this time of year there is a lot of foreboding talk of snow which I have learned to tune out as it's so often false, so when I opened my curtains on Tuesday morning to a blanket of white, I was surprised. A very speedy breakfast later I was out the door.

I expected to find Blue Belle and the pets at the bottom of their field, in the shelter of the trees, but instead they had all huddled behind the hedge separating them from Granny's garden.



Blue Belle loves snow. She enjoys prancing in it!





For the young hoggets it was their first snow.



Blue Belle does her best posing in snow.









Penny's daughter Bea wasn't very impressed.



Her twin sister Bridget was more concerned about Fly.



Minty.



Minty and an alert Bridget keeping an eye on Fly. Fly has been in this field dozens of times as the lambs have grown up, but most still have their natural wariness of dogs intact.



Juliet.



The landscape is always so beautiful under a blanket of snow.



Tilly.



Esther walkin' in a winter wonderland.



Lily, Rita and Gertie wondering if they should follow (they do).



Like Blue Belle, Fly gets very excited by snow. Her favourite thing to do is roll.



Tilly was very curious about this.













Eventually the hoggets joined the more sensible ewes in the shelter at the bottom of the field. Heather has got quite the tummy on her.



I'm hoping for a couple of lambs from her but we'll see.









Olive. She's one of the few who doesn't outwardly appear to be pregnant but she could just be a late lamber.



More roly-poly fun!







Juliet with Lois in the background.



I love this one! Rosie and Penny taking shelter from the wind.



I think I'm safe saying she's pregnant...



Tilly.



Rosie.



Fly taking a break from rolling.



A short one!



Tilly was stuck to me like glue all the time I was in the field, until the end when I headed for the gate again. She paused long enough to pose.







I was headed to the gate because another blizzard was incoming.



Tilly thought for a moment and decided to follow me anyway. She followed me all the way up to the gate in the end.



For the rest of the day the snow showers came thick and fast. The following morning, however, the sun was shining.







The snow was starting to disappear, but the mountains still looked amazing.



The main flock of ewes needed some silage.



But first it was snacker time.











A beautiful morning.





Once the ewes had their breakfast, they came looking for their morning silage.



But they had to wait for a few minutes more as I fed the older ewes next. I call them old, some of them are young too. This flock contains ewes that are prone to sore feet or being thin. I can keep a better eye on them in a small flock.





Then it was time for the boys to get their breakfast. Now that Sunny and Jim have finished their work with my ewes, they're in here too.



Fly helped to keep everyone in order.







The oldies looking for second breakfast (they didn't get it).



Finally it was time for the main flock of ewes to get their morning silage.



It went down a treat.



The pets meanwhile weren't up to much, really.