Wednesday 29 October, 2014
I don't want to bore you with tales of Taylor's sex life but so far, he's covered five ewes since going in on Sunday afternoon - Pixie and Poppy, Penny, Lucy and a coloured gimmer with a brown face, that's one of Niamh's twins from 2013. I never know their names until they lamb :-) Five down; ten to go.
Of course, one never counts ones lambs before they're up and sucking (and even then, there's no guarantee that they'll make it to sale), but this is the start of the process. In fact, it's not the start - the start was vaccinating the ewes against abortion, checking them for fitness and checking Taylor for fitness, so the sheep year really starts, for us, in early October, before that year's lambs are away.
Monday 27 October, 2014
Since we only have a small number of ewes, it's not financially viable to buy a commercial system for recording data about our sheep but I do like to have a record of some performance data - I couldn't possibly remember everything, or even anything some days.
So since 2009, our first lambing season, I've recorded how many lambs have been born to each ewe, date of lambing, sire, tag numbers. I now also record birth weights and sometimes 30 day weights but I confess to being less rigorous about this than I might be. We don't have a weigh crate so they have to be weighed using the spring balance and by 30 days old, they are pretty heavy to lift :-)
Monday 20 October, 2014
We normally follow the traditional dates for sheep, putting the tup in with the ewes on 5th November for a 1st April start to lambing.
This year, we’re on holiday from 4th to 11th; while the sheep will be checked every day, John doesn’t know them like I do and won’t be able to say which ewe has been tupped on which day.
So I’ve decided to put the tup in next Tuesday 28th October, making the start date for lambing of 24th March. I can then see that he’s working before I go.
Saturday 18 October, 2014
Today’s job (18th October) was to bring our female sheep home from our temporary grazing. Our fifteen breeding ewes and gimmers were at Barry Mill and our eight ewe lambs plus two “nurse” ewes (retired but two of our “originals” so here for life) were at a farm near Arbroath.
A combination of routine and the docile (and food motivated) nature of the Coloured Ryeland made this fairly easy. Since we’ve had the temporary grazing, getting on the trailer has become part of the normal routine and usually means “new grass”, so loading the two small flocks was pretty straightforward; when they see the open trailer, they’re on.
Thursday 2 October, 2014
With Nemo going for pies in March, we needed to buy a new tup this year. And we have! He's called High Edge Taylor and was bred by Debbie Bostock in Derbyshire. I picked him up in Carlisle on 20th September, so he's been in isolation since then, while he's been wormed and fluked.
Since he seems in rude good health, we let him out today, along with his companion, Little Ted. They are in the "garden" round the caravan - lots of grass for two batchelor boys!
Little Ted is one of this year's tup lambs; his services as a companion for the tup were required because of the untimely death of Dickie, the previous wether. Little Ted is way, way smaller than all the other tup lambs; he's also, coincidentally, out of the same ewe as Dickie.
Thursday 2 October, 2014
Help ma boab! Over six weeks since the last diary entry. But it's not because we've been slacking or on holiday. There was a wee business of an independence referendum going on here that proved a bit of a distraction. Now the result didn't go the way we wanted, but we'll just have to pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off and start again. But politics is not for this forum, so tat's enough of that.
We've also had the Scottish Smallholder and Grower Festival last Saturday - that takes up most of September. So we're playing catch up a bit in all aspects of life :-)
Monday 11 August, 2014
All our sheep are now at Astwood - twelve ewes, seven gimmers and twenty one lambs - ready for weaning. We're planning to do this next weekend. The ewes and gimmers will run together; tup lambs will go in with the bullocks and the ewe lambs are coming home to Dalmore.
We have fourteen ewe lambs thsi year, so I've sold six and am keeping eight, so I want to have a good look at them before I decide which to keep and which to sell.
I'm culling two ewes and retiring two this year, so I'll have fifteen going to the tup in November. We're collecting our new tup, High Edge Taylor, in September.
Thursday 19 June, 2014
Bleh! I'm not good out of my comfort zone, although I should be used to it by now.
Twenty sheep sheared a few weeks ago - 19 fleeces in boxes, comprising 7 from gimmers (one white, six coloured) and 12 from ewes (three white, 9 coloured). And I don't know what to do with them :-(
I have sold single fleeces privately in the past (as opposed to the Wool Board, who don't really want my we bag of coloured fleece anyway) but it's a futter, boxing and posting. I sold them as a lot last year, which was better, but I just have the feeling I could be doing more with them. If I knew what I was doing :-)
Sunday 8 June, 2014
We took all the sheep to our rented grazing last weekend. We had a couple of jobs to do first though. First we split the lambs into a separate pens from their mammys. We did this by lifting them over the hurdles - not something that we'll be able to do in a couple of weeks. A lot of them are right wee chunks :-) Once split off, we gave them all a 2ml dose of Heptavac P Plus, marking them with crayon as we went. They'll get a second dose in 4-6 weeks.
Then we ran the ewes through the race and crate, trimmed feet and sprayed with Crovect (they were shorn 21st May). As we let each ewe out, we put her back towards the lamb pen so that we could identfy and tag her ewe lambs. We don't register any tup lambs so we simply tag when they are going to the abattoir but it's vital to get the ewe tagging, and therefore registrations, correct. Every year, I think I might tag at lambing but the tags look so big in little ears - so the same argument goes round every year.
Wednesday 28 May, 2014
Feeling a bit gutted this afternoon. Dickie, our Coloured Ryeland wether, died today.
He was one of our first crop of lambs in 2009. He had a white streak of wool on his face that reminded me of Dickie Davies :-) I couldn't bear to eat him, so we had him castrated and kept him as a tup companion (also mentor to various groups of tup and ewe lambs). We took him to the vet in the back of the car to be "done", and Dan held him, legs akimbo (Dickie's not Dan's) while the vet did his stuff.