Saturday, 18 February 2012

Just another day.....

Cup of tea to Hubs. His morning tea. Wakes him up. Half a spoon of sugar added to give him some vim. Busy week. Jean Pierre and Danny in. Chaos everywhere. Have had no time to try to get tidier.

Up and out. Pigs first. Hubs called said to come have a look at one of the rear ends of the girls. Gosh it was plump. Bigger than when she is in season. Her undercarriage looked bigger too. Still, she is coming into maturity so would be expected to put on weight.....

Off to get the sheep flock into the big field. Some go down the side path OK. Some don't. Do a wander about. Can't blame them. The end of winter, and the grazing is poor on the fields, and they  must be getting fed up with hay, maize and lucerne supplements. Hubs sorts that lot out on the path. I go into the Sheep Paddock to see if any lambs are left behind. They often are. They get involved in doing lamby stuff and don't pay attention to what the flock as a whole are doing. Oh. One of the ewes is still in the barn. Has six lambs with her. She had triplets yesterday so could do with staying behind today with her littl'uns. Trouble is that I can't tell the difference between whose lambs are hers and whose aren't. All have to go out into the field then. She walks out sedately with me while I carry one of the lambs. Then back to the barn to catch the others. What a jolly time was had by all, especially the two who Hubs tried to catch. All done. All out in the field, the mum's eating lucerne while the lambs tumble about the place, yelling about being ignored by mum, playing with the fencing poles, etc.

Jean Pierre arrives. No Danny. Cup of tea for all. No toast, the toaster being in a cupboard which is now barricaded by scaffolding. Also in cupboard my teeth cleaning stuff, so no clean teeth either. Porridge then. Hubs complains. Quaker Oats is not the product it used to be. Now it is more like oat powder rather than being entire oats. The bowl gets eaten anyway.

Hear a lamb yelling. Go to investigate. One lamb left by the now eaten lucerne, all the rest over the far side of the field. Pick him up. Take him into the middle of the field so can be nearer to his mum, whoever she is. Walk back to the gate. Turn round to see lamb following a couple of metres behind me. Pick him up. Put him back nearer the others.  Walk as fast as I can back to gate.

Internet search. oooooooohhhhhhh! Pink rear end, plump undercarriage......we have a pregnant piggy. Crikey! What to do. The signs seem to suggest that the arrival of possible youngsters is fairly imminent. Tell Hubs. Need to get the pigs separated as soon as poss, ...like today....

Hear the geese kicking up a fuss. Go out to investigate. Lamb chasing geese. The same lamb. The geese are freaked out about having a black thing wanting to join them. Round and round they go, flapping and squawking and terrified. Round and round the lamb goes, desperate for one of them to be his mum. I go round and round after them all, trying to catch the lamb which I do eventually. Back into the field with him. Take him over to one of the ewes. She head butts him. So not his mum. Try another one. Seems to be more accepting.  Feel warm stickiness on hands. Yellow gunge. Ah, the lamb's evacuation. All down the front of me as well. Thank goodness for pinnies, and just a tiny splodge on my skirt. The geese are still upset, still honking, and now the chickens are having a panic as well......

Off to Plaisance for shopping. All is calm and quite during expedition.

Back home. Quick lunch. Lamb lying down in field. Will look again in an hour or so. And yes, he had moved, so he is alright.

Hubs on line to London, me on line to a client in New York, Jean Pierre banging away in the house. Hear a lamb in the distance having a moan. Eventually go out to have a look. Oh dear. One lamb stuck behind the fence of the small woodland copse. Hope that it manages to find its way out and start cleaning the Paddock of poo. It keeps on wailing. Maaaa, mmmmm, mmmmaaaaa, m, ma, maaaaaaaaaa.....little 'm' sounds interspersed with long wailing sounds. My heart does a lurch. It is those little 'm' sounds which are heart breaking. Like little sobs. Please they say, please come......

Leave the wheel barrow parked up in the middle of the Paddock. It is no use. Need to go do a rescue. Push my way into the thicket. Fortunately not too brambly, but still am scratched. Bools and Gus try to help. Make matters worse. Get under my feet as I try to clamber back up the bank which is in the middle of the copse. I have already clambered up it once, then slid down it to retrieve the lamb, now back up I go, then back down I go. Leave lamb in field. I think it is one of the triplets. Back to Paddock to continue with poo clean.

Time to bring sheep in from field. Some charge back into the Paddock as usual. A couple of lambs overshoot the gateway but make an about turn when they see Gus and Bools. So half the flock now in Paddock, the rest are lingering along the pathway. Gate has to be open so they can get into the Paddock. Flock inside Paddock see open gate and decide it best they join the others on the pathway. General milling around as loads of sheep and lambs scatter hither and thither. Hubs getting cross. Been a long day for him. Dogs are now  finding it all rather jolly. Start barking. Sheep now in turmoil. I am yelling at the dogs to shut up as they are being of no use whatsoever. End up by trying to get the two of them into the house. Gus inside now. Bools still outside. I carry on past the house and get behind the sheep. Bools now doing sheep dog role. Still barking but to good effect now as sheep charge away from him straight into the Paddock. A couple  of pushes and shoves on a couple of rear ends from Hubs and gate is closed. Phew!

Over to pig pens. Need to separate the possibly pregnant Tamworth sow from Max and her sister. Means that Hubs has to get into the pens. Max and Hubs are not friends at all. Max see Hubs as a threat. Hubs does not want to get chomped on. Need to devise a plan. Food. Tease some food in front of Max to divert him. That is my job. Hubs to jump in and try to tease some food in front of the pregnant girl so she goes into the other pen. After a few tries the plan works. Hubs only had to leap out of the pen once after Max saw him and started to charge. So, one possibly pregnant sow in one pen together with half a bale of straw in her hut, and Max and the other girl in the other pen. Max was to show his displeasure at such an arrangement by severely damaging the electric fencing during the night. Anyway, job done.

Time for last look at the lambs. Saw that one of the triplets, the one who was wanting to join the goose flock, was looking very thin and was wandering about trying to find a teat. He tried this one and that one to no avail, the owners of the teats pushing him quite roughly away. He needs some food. Aha! Already bought some lamb milk powder just in case. Now all I need to do is fill the bottle. But where is the bottle. Was in the kitchen. Kitchen now moved to the back of the house. And the spare teats. They were in the washing up corner. No longer. Can't see them. Been moved by Jean Pierre. Feel patience slip slip slipping away. Hunt through the chaos of the kitchen area. Nope. No bottle. No teats. Darkness falling. Urgent that bottle be found. One is. Right in the bottom of one of the storage boxes. Feel cross because I had been organised about lamb assistance equipment but kitchen move now disorganised everything. Find myself starting to fling things about in my hunt for those elusive bottles. Kettle on. Open bag of lamb milk powder. Instructions? Nowhere to be found. Don't know dosage, so use instinct. Grab a garden chair and rush out to Sheep Paddock. Whooppee, all the sheep think, food for us. They crowd around me expectantly. I yell at them, in a very unshepherdess way, to get out of my way. Manage to find the little one. Up on my lap. Milk coaxed down. Teat not working properly. Oh f***. Back to kitchen, find a sewing needle, put gas burner on, heat needle, make hole in teat bigger. Back to Paddock. Grab lamb again. Get some milk into him. Put him back with his mum and the other two.

Back to kitchen. Find some rabbit (deceased and cooked), into pan + coconut milk + sundry veggies + rice ......cooked, plated, and dumped unceremoniously in front of Hubs who was by now playing chess on his PC. In true martyr style this was done.

An hour later and I am in bed. It is 8.30. Electric blanket is delightfully cooking me. I am done with the day. What did I do with myself when I didn't have a smallholding to run, back in the old UK days, when we did not have seventeen sheep, fifteen lambs, numerous chickens, three geese, three pigs with more possibly on the way and a house which is still a building site. And counting my blessings........

11 comments:

Jean said...

Gosh Vera, I'm exhausted and I was only reading it all.
I'm so glad you managed to feed the hungry lamb. I imagine that at that age it would do them no good at all to go without food for very long. I don't know how you keep objective about it all. I would be a snivelling emotional wreck with all that animal turmoil going on around me.

Vera said...

Jean, I do do 'emotional snivelling wreck' quite frequently! But today we went shopping in Tarbes, and all I could think of for the duration of the trip was that I would prefer to be back home with the animals!

Vera said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Food, Fun and Life in the Charente said...

We have not got all the animals and when people ask me what I do all day I could clobber them. Do they think the vegetables grow on their own? How do they think all the bottles of pickles, jam etc that they get given get into the bottles. You just amaze me what you manage to get through in a day, now with no kitchen it must be 100 times worse. Unexpected piglets as well.... Oh boy. Keep well Diane

Horst in Edmonton said...

It's amazing that all we can think of is the animals , when one is away from them.

rosaria said...

Vera!!!!!!!!!!You are quite the shepherdess!
I'm exhausted just reading this.
It was fun to see it all through your eyes, trying to understand the demands on you and your family.

Bless the farmers and the ranchers for the care and understanding in raising our food.

Niall & Antoinette said...

Hectic isn't the word! I'm sure the electric blanket was like heaven after all that. So glad you managed to get some milk into the little one. So often one of a set of triplets gets rejected; fingers crossed for you.

Vera said...

Diane, you are right. Raising a good veggie garden takes a heck of a lot of time. How do I get through my day? Have not got the faintest glue. All I do is muddle through somehow!

Horst, I was surprised at how much I missed the animals and I was only away for two hours!

Rosaria, I agree....God bless all the 'proper' farmers and ranchers for without them there would not be food on our tables.

Niall, I am managing to keep the mum interested in that third lamb but only just. She has not rejected the lamb yet, but I can see it in her eyes that she thinks that three is just one too many! And the electric blanket is a devine piece of kit!

Horst in Edmonton said...

When I live on the farm we didn't have electric blankets, but we did have Goose down quilts. It could be -40c in the house and we would still be all snugly and warm. The quilt was light as a feather.;-)

DUTA said...

Never a dull moment with your animals, and you're doing a fine job dealing with their needs and well-being.

I suppose you'll soon need some third person on your little farm, not only because of the increasing amount of work, but also in case you and your husband will wish or need to go to the UK or other place for a while.

Anyway, you've both got my deepest appreciation for your achievements so far.

Vera said...

Horst, minus forty! Crikey I thought we had it hard at minus ten! But.....goose down quilts, now that is an idea. We have geese. I suppose they have 'down'. Methinks a search on the Internet for more info on this subject is now needed, and thanks for pointing me in the direction of a possible new project!

Duta, Hubs suggested that we get someone in to help, but I think we meed to manage for a while longer. You are right, though, if one of us needs to return to the UK for either family or business reasons then it will be difficult for the other one to 'hold the fort'. And thankyou for your words of encouragement. They are much appreciated.