Rare Breed - A Farming Year (Guest Starring Pip's Dad!)

I was on my laptop and not watching TV when my Dad came into the room asking, "Did y' see Trevor?"

Naturally, I replied with, "What?" (Manners never are my strong point.)

"Pip's da," he explained enthusiastically.

"Oh right. No."

"Och, you've missed it!" he said.

I did manage to catch up on the programme eventually thanks to a +1 channel. He was on a programme about the farming year in Northern Ireland; episode eleven which focused on the month of November. I'd never actually seen Pip's dad before but I'd heard of him and where he lived and Dad just happened to know the name of his owner. Trevor was shown rounding up the farm's turkeys for the night with far more style and grace than his daughter has with the sheep. But in the way he moves I can see a mirror image of Pip - especially in the way he lies down.

Here's an extract from the channel's website: "Meanwhile the poultry farmers’ preparations for Christmas are in full swing and they are getting some extra help from Trevor the Turkey dog!"

A few snapshots from the November episode:

He keeps his tail between his legs - another thing that Pip does all the time.

If you're in the UK you should be able to watch the whole 22 minute episode, or if you're feeling choosy, Trevor appears at around 17 minutes in. It's available to watch for another 26 days.

Rare Breed - A Farming Year - November

Can you see the family resemblance?

Don't look so embarrassed, Pip - your dad was on TV!

Say Hi to the Summer!

The clocks have changed, which along with making me sleep-deprived has marked the beginning of British Summer Time. Say hi to the summer, guys!

Hi, Summer!

Yes, good. Our lane has been lined with daffodils for some time now, as Teddy and Pip will now demonstrate.

The daffodils are fun to play in.

Um... guys? Where did they go?

Ah well. Happy summer, everyone!

Excuse Me While I Casually Eat Your Leg


Ben: Excuse me while I fall over dramatically.

Pip: Excuse me while I bomb this photo.

Excuse me while I look handsome.

Excuse me while I bounce.

Ben: Excuse me while I bowl you over.

Excuse me while I run in an awkward fashion.

Excuse me?

(P.S. You know that feeling you get when you've written/typed the same thing too many time and it just looks wrong now? Yeah, well 'excuse me' does that to me. My typing's going all wibbly.)

Saving Kitty

This is the story of a lamb, on the brink of death, who was nursed back to health with some help from a certain sheepdog.

Day Zero: 3:00pm
We begin our story on a quiet Wednesday afternoon. A flock of first-time mothers had just been trasported home and were getting settled into their new house, but one was already showing signs of lambing. With a little help from Dad, she gives birth to a single lamb. We leave both to become bonded and carry on as usual.

On checking the sheep this evening, we found that the little female lamb born earlier is shivering, unlicked and unable to move. We give her some milk through a stomach tube. She appears to be hypothermic. For the first time in a good few years, we decide to bring her inside.

The lamb's been placed in a special box designed for the job. It's a tall box, with wire mesh for the lamb to lie on and a section cut out of one side for the heater to be placed in. She's still shivering.

In order to give her an extra helping hand, as many people are crammed into the kitchen as possible. Which isn't many, just three humans and an enthusiastic dog. Pip keeps watch.

We check the lamb's temperature via her ears and mouth - both should be warm to the touch - but in this case, they're ice cold. The fact that her mother didn't lick her on such a cold evening didn't help.

Pip doesn't stay inside for long, since she's got her own house to go into. She gives the lamb a parting smile and I take her outside again.

We're keeping a close eye on the lamb and she's just received an injection of the sheep equivalent of penicillin. Dad walks into the kitchen and randomly says, "How's Kitty? Is Kitty alright?" to the lamb. I ask him where that outburst came from. He replies that he has no idea. The name sticks.

The kitchen has effectively been turned into a sauna and all humans had to evacuate to the living room long ago. From there we hear the sound of a lamb bleating and I go to investigate. Kitty's trying to get her head up, so I help her onto her tummy so she has a better chance of sitting up.

The sounds from the kitchen have escalated from bleats to thumps as Kitty attempts to get onto her feet. Her ears are warmer now and she's looking far better.

We put newpaper down so that she has a better chance of getting up and is more comfortable.

Debate on whether or not Kitty stays in overnight begins. Mum makes the point that she doesn't want to have a lamb running loose in the kitchen. Dad sort of wanders off. I suggest we keep her in for at least half of the night to be sure of her health.

She's better at sticking her head up now.

Dad comes back. Debate continues.

Kitty stands on wobbly legs. I back down and we take her outside and back to her mum.

Kitty has some milk.

She's back with her mum and mum looks casually interested - no slow motion running along a beach and into each other's arms here.

Day One: 7:35am
The next morning now and her mum's casual interest in Kitty continues.

But Kitty's hungry and her mum doesn't seem to want to feed her, so we do. With bottles, obviously, not... yeah.

Pip is still here and helping.

Day Two: 7:05pm
Whatever Kitty has said to her mum, it appears to have worked, as she's suckling. Her mum's still going around in circles a bit and doesn't stand for long, but it's a start if nothing else.

We still give her a feed from a bottle, so Pip helps by licking the jug.

With a full tummy, Kitty has another go at getting a drink from mum.

Pip is feeling smug because she helped.

Day Three: 8:10am
Kitty and her mum seem to have made up their differences and are both getting along much better, the latter standing long enough for the former to have a drink. So we leave both to get on with it.

A job well done.

Loss & Gain

You may remember the post from this day last week in which I told you that I'd won an award. I have time to address it properly now.

Like most awards, it comes along with a checklist:

1. Add the award to your blog.
2. Thank the person who gave you the award.
3. Mention 7 random things about yourself.
4. List the rules.
5. Pass the award onto 15 bloggers
6. Inform each of those 15 by leaving a comment on their blog.

I am infamous for breaking these rules. I can try to mention seven random things about myself, but eventually I will run out of random, and I need to save my random for another time. I'm a cheating scumbag as far as the seven things about me goes.

I'll give you one random fact, though. Last summer I became a writer of fanfiction, and so as a result, the writing on this blog should have become better. So, I'm going to tell you a story instead; a story of life and death, loss and gain, and one very, very chubby sheep.


At the time in question, life had only just begun to get more crowded. My Mum had badly broken her shoulder the afternoon before, leaving her with one working arm for the time being, the ewes just kept on getting into trouble of one sort or another and my family - thanks to my inability to cook a decent meal with the time available to me - were living on a diet of tinned soup and sandwiches.

Our lambing system doesn't lend itself well to intensive lambing, so with an average of thirty ewes lambing every day, soon family units would have to go into the fields. We selected a pen with lambs that appeared strong enough for life outdoors. We catch the lambs first, then Pip helps us to herd the ewes onto a livestock trailer. To reach the field that this particular group of sheep were destined for, our convoy of two tractors had to drive through a field of what we call old ewes; ones that are too thin or old for a life in the sheds. One of the ewes in this field, however, was there for a very different reason.

Suckie can be very annoying.

We knew to keep an eye on her, since she has never managed to lamb on her own. As both tractors drove past - one containing Pip and I, the other my Dad and Granny - eyes searched out Suckie among the crowd. We spotted her on a rise, standing beside another ewe and her own lamb. Suckie was restless, and to our trained eyes, we knew that Suckie was having problems giving birth. Again.

We had no choice but to unload our cargos of lambs and ewes first, and when we came back to Suckie she was still in the same place. Dad clambered out of his tractor, and since he was the one who fed her tasty meal every morning, Suckie, true to form, came trotting over to him. With the little ewe captured, I reversed my tractor over to the pair and Suckie was placed in the link box.

On reaching the yard, I haltered Suckie and she happily walked alongside me. Both Ben and Pip were with us now, but she wasn't phased. When it became apparent to her of our destination, she pulled ahead. There was no time for meal now, so into a small 'bonding pen' she went. I decided that Dad, with his many more years of experiance, should be the one to help Suckie give birth. He pulled on his lambing gloves.

At first he thought that the lamb was coming with its head bent over to one side, but on closer inspection, it seemed that the lamb was coming backwards. There was nothing for him to do but pull on the two back legs. As we know, Suckie is a very small sheep and her love affair with food means that she has a tendency to get overweight. In this case it meant that the lamb was far too big for the birth canal. In the end, it took three people and Suckie's pushing for the lamb to be born.

A lamb's kicks are the sheep equivalent of a baby's cry, but the lamb didn't move a muscle. It happens sometimes, just like with human babies, and the solution with lambs is to swing them by their hind legs upside down so that any fluid in their lungs is spilled out. The lamb should sneeze and kick. Suckie's newborn did none of these things either.

Beginning to worry for the lamb, we fetched the resuscitator. There was a pulse, though it was very weak. His heart stopped. After a few lungfuls of air, it started again. It stopped. We resuscitated him again. His heart started beating again, but still he lay completely still, without a kick. We tried a different method, puring some liquid stimulant into his mouth. He heart had stopped beating again in the time it took us to do that, so we resuscitated him once more. After a few minutes, his heart had stopped again. 

He was gone.


It's always sad when these things happen, but happen they do. There was nothing we could have done for Suckie's lamb that day. As Suckie had tried in vain to push him out backwards, fluid had flooded his lungs and he was unable to breath properly. With every push that Suckie made, more fluid entered into his nose.

But however sad that day was, there is a happy ending to the story.

An orphan lamb was in need of a mum, and Suckie had plenty of milk for the job. Here he is:

The following day, we introduced this little girl to the family. She was one of three lambs from the same ewe and she couldn't feed them all. She was also really small:

Now both lambs and adopted mum are happy. The boy lamb was named Veyron (this year's theme for lamb names is cars) and the girl, Kia.

The size difference is really funny, actually. Veyron's this huge lamb, Kia's a tiny one and Suckie's well, just Suckie.

They really do make an odd family.

But they all saved each other in their own way.



Now I have to pass this award along to 15 other bloggers. I try my best to stick to this rule.

1. Bailey Be Good!, 2. BZ Training, 3. Two Dogs, One Camera, Priceless Moments, 4. Eva the Sheltie, 5. Schnauzer Days.

...That's rubbish, isn't it? I just can't stick to those rules.

With thanks to With My Collie By My Side for giving me the award - I'm sorry I'm so rubbish at posting about them.

Lead On Me!

What am I doing? I... I - of course I'm helping!

Auntie Sheila, she needs to learn about these things. That's it. Left, right, left, right, er... sideways.

I stop and you're supposed to stop too.

Stop trying to lead her, Mum. I'll do it! Sheila, stop whatever it is you're doing!

Just some Teddy from Christmas Day that I managed to overlook at the time.

(Every year I make a song and dance about it being my birthday today. This year is no exception. I'm 17 today. Just saying.)

Have a fantastic - and helpful - day! Don't do anything Teddy wouldn't do.