The weather has been quite miserable all week. raining, foggy, misty, dull. On Saturday there was suddenly a break in all the grey and the sun came out. It was the time to get the two rams in with the ewes. Fifth of November means lambing on 1 April, and is the traditional date for tupping to begin. I am already a couple days late.
I managed to chase the twenty ones ewes into a pen. Two more pens set up and the rams were also captured without too much trouble. I had already chosen which ewes were going with which ‘Tup’. As this is a rare breed sheep, small in number, it is important to make sure the rams and ewes are not too closely related. Shurper’s daughters certainly need to go to another ram. And through a ram database provided by our breeder’s group we can tell just how closely they are all related to my new ram, Bemborough.
Dan joined in and we separated the captured ewes into two groups, then loaded one group onto the trailer and moved them to another field. The afternoon was getting on and Shurper needed his raddle attached before being released to the ewes. This is a strap wrapped around his chest with a crayon marker. So when Shurper mounts the ewe he leaves a mark on her rump. Over the seventeen day cycle I hope to see red rumps for all. Then the crayon is changed to blue for another cycle and a second chance. Last year Shurper had a perfect score!
Raddle finally strapped on, Shurper loaded into the small sheep trailer, jump into the ranger and…nothing. The Polaris ranger, our most reliable bit of kit on the farm, would not start. By now it was past dusk, it was 5.15 dark. What to do, after all the necessary swearing? Dan is reasonably mechanical but he couldn’t figure it out. Meanwhile I was getting anxious about Shurper waiting in the trailer. Plan formed, I go get my Land Rover, we pop the sheep trailer on. Then Richard appeared, engine examined, don’t ask me what, he and Dan taped something up and voila. Shurper soon scampered off into the darkness, doing the odd lippy, sniffy thing rams do in pursuit of ewes. And Bemborough, the ram purchased at the Melton Mowbray Show, will have to wait his turn until tomorrow.
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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.