The month of May is flying by. We have had some lovely Spring weather (although today is a bit bleak) and the veg patch is finally showing a bit of life. The lambs and calves are growing quickly. One older cow still has not calved and she and I are both anxiously awaiting the arrival.
I have been preparing some of the Portlands for the upcoming Agricultural Show season, with the Sherborne Country Show only ten days away. I gathered five ewes with lambs and three shearling ewes into the field behind the barn on the 1st of May. And most afternoons you will find me out there struggling with halter training. Sheep are not pets - they are wild beasts when it comes to having a halter put on! The first few days you just hold on and let them thrash about. Once I get a little bit of cooperation I try not to overdo it. “Little and Often" is my new mantra. Luckily I have the help of Minty, too, super twelve year old sheep handler. She comes along some afternoons and will help me at the show.
But my three shearling ewes will no doubt be the worst behaved sheep at the Sherborne Show. (I think I have earned that position at every show I’ve attended). Two of them went to the Melplash Show last August when they were weaned lambs and I thought they walked reasonably well. Not now. I brought my two Shearling rams in to the pens in the open shed and was petrified they would misbehave as well. They are very strong and I don’t want a nasty knock from their big horns. But they are very well behaved and walk far better than their sisters.
One of the rams had a very dirty backside. This can be a sign of worms or some sickness but that wasn’t the case here. I did have to get him cleaned up and spent Sunday afternoon with a slow running hosepipe and rubber gloves. He was as good as gold and stood quietly on the halter. After one and one half hours of gently loosening the poo and washing it away I have a gorgeous ram. We definitely bonded with that intimate experience!
Jo Stover has daily adventures on her small farm, together with her Highland cattle and Portland sheep, bees, a few hens, dogs, and some two-legged family and friends.