More lambs arriving, with twins on Friday night. Portland sheep normally have singles but these twins weren’t a complete surprise because the ewe had been uncomfortable for days and was very big across. The first was another head-only presentation, but sorted quickly and out he came. The next one arrived 30 minutes later, when I received a panicked phone call from Dan, as I had gone back to the house for a cup of tea. The second ram lamb was so tiny, but he is doing well. Portlands are very good mothers, with plenty of milk for two.
The bonding shed looks like a Mother and Baby group with the lambs very playful after just a couple of days. I like to put them out on a warm sunny day but the weekend weather didn’t cooperate. We let out five ewes and their lambs together and of course they are fine. I mark ewe and lamb with a matching number. I hope it fades quickly on #5! The field has good grass for the ewes, and lambs are racing about together even though it became cold and windy later in the day.
The Highland cows finally decided to get in on the act and two calves were born this weekend, too. Both were born in the early morning hours to first-time mums. Not a bit of a problem. Highland cows are truly the best mothers around, and you had better watch out if you get too close. They are very protective and even my sweetest cows will shake their head if you have crossed the line. That makes tagging the calves a real challenge!
Every cow born in the UK must have a numbered eartag inserted within the first twenty days. Sheep must all be eartagged now, too. This is a ruling from the EU, but I am quite sure it is completely ignored by the rest of Europe. After tagging all cattle are issued with their own passport. Most Americans don’t have a passport while EVERY British cow has one.
We have learned the hard way that time is of the essence. Tag Highland calves within 48 hours of birth. After that they get REALLY strong. Sunday morning I called all the cows into the holding area with the shaking bucket. Most came running, one mother held back. So we had one calf on its own. Dan and Richard appeared on the scene, I had cornered the confused calf, Richard grabbed him and attached the tags in each ear. I don’t have a strong enough grip for the tool that inserts the plastic tag into the ear. We then managed to get the other calf into a separate part of the holding area, tagged her quickly before mother could figure out where she went. Five to go.
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.