I do my rounds every day, checking on the livestock spread about various fields, checking all is okay. This routine is not at any fixed time - first thing, midday or late afternoon. In winter this usually happens at feeding time so more regular. Now the days are shorter, I found myself caught out and at 4.30 jumped into the Land Rover (I usually use the Ranger) to check my 21 ewes in the far field.
When I arrived there was a big Suffolk Ram standing on the bridleway trying to get in with my girls! Some were teasing him, standing just on the other side. Slight panic, getting dark, no stick in the car to assist me. If I chased him away he would return as soon as I left. The solution was to get him in another field. Luckily, there was a gate just on the opposite side of the bridleway. So I opened it and tried to shoo him in. Instead he took off up the bridleway. I followed in hot pursuit, but it was the sheep who lured him back. Second attempt I blocked the bridleway with the Land Rover, and this time when he saw his escape path was blocked, he darted through the opened gate. Victory, all on my own, in the dusk, too!
I contacted his suspected owner and then discovered a second ram was also missing. This doesn’t have such a happy ending, so if you are squeamish, read no further…Next day the farmer and his lad went out looking, as did I when I made my rounds and walked the dogs up Lewesdon Hill. In the afternoon we all met down by my ewes and spotted a white object at the top of this rather steep field. As we drove their UTV up the hill through the field it became obvious the white object with the black face was the missing ram, but he wasn’t moving. Poor guy had been trying to breach the fence to join my ewes, slipped down and broke his neck. Not easy to remove as his head was caught through wood fence posts. And that is the way with farming sometimes. Lovely to see young stock frolicking in the spring sunshine, not so fun to find a dead animal and arrange collection of your fallen stock.
And on a happier note, my final tally was...112 bottles of apple juice! Now to make labels and sell some.
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.