The days are beginning to feel that little bit longer now, no longer dark at 4.30 in the afternoon. January drags on as it always does, definitely not my favourite month of the year.
My two stock rams have finished their time servicing the ewes. I removed Shurper and Sirius from the ewes and then put them together in a small pen for several hours to sort themselves out. They push and shove each other for a while but emerge friends. If I didn’t shut them up together first they might really hurt each other. In a small pen neither can get a running start to bash their horns together and do serious damage.
I also have two shearling rams who were hired out to other Portland flocks. One has returned so I repeated the process. The three were stuck together again in the pen. The young ram would have been attacked by the older two as he had the smell of ewes all over him. They sorted themselves relatively peacefully.
The twenty nine ewes, hopefully all in-lamb, are together in Holes ground. I visit everyday to make sure they are all okay and will start feeding them closer to lambing time in April. Right now the grass is enough for them. There is occasionally the dirty bum or lameness and I try to attend as quickly as possible so no serious problems develop. Today a ewe needed her feet trimmed so I made her pose with me! (note my very attractive hi-vis fleece) I cannot always ‘turn’ a sheep, some are too difficult but she cooperated and I put her on her bum, leaning against my legs so I could reach down with the feet trimmer to snip away the problem.
Very sadly, we lost our lovely Fletch on the 4th of January. He was our ‘rescue’ dog. We kept him temporarily when his owner, Richard, went away for two months, and Fletch never left us. At the local dog show Archie entered Fletch in the rescue dog class for a laugh. Richard was not always the most attentive owner and Fletch was well known by all the local farmers because he often ended up in their houses. As we all watched the dog show judging, Archie realised he was in a bit of trouble. The judge interviewed each rescue dog owner, who related traumatic tales of suffering and rescue. Archie hesitated and then did a brilliant job of stretching the truth. Poor Fletch was twice run over by the owner…actually it was three times! He was abandoned…Fletch did spend many hours waiting for his previous owner to emerge from a late night out. Archie and Fletch were awarded third prize which hangs proudly amongst the sheep ribbons. He was a lovely gentle dog, who would smile when he was paid attention. We made sure he smiled lots.
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.