So last night, just at dusk, Hubs gave a strident call from out by the Sheep Paddock. And there, in the barn, was one of this years lambs, looking filthy at her back end and obviously suffering from a loose tummy. Upon cleaning up the paddock, I had noticed a green runny mess of a poo, so already knew someone was in trouble with their tum. Ah, so before me was the one.
Nothing for it but to clean her up. Hose pipe, bowl of warm soapy water, washing up gloves, scrubbing brush, all assembled by Hubs under my instruction. Meanwhile I stood in the doorway of the barn, keeping the lamb, who by the way is now almost the size of her mum, in the barn, but observed by the rest of the flock who had heard the hullabaloo and was wanting a look-see at what was happening. Sometimes those sheep regard us as devils who must be avoided at all costs. Other times they are indifferent to us. And then on other occasions they decide we are their friends and they move in close for a nuzzle. They have a range of emotions, those sheep. Last night, they were on our team judging by the concern they showed for the lamb.
Hubs arrived with the equipment. Into the barn. Got hold of the lamb. Hauled her out onto the grassy Side Path. Straddled her to keep her in one place, sheep being very difficult animals to get a hold of, as are pigs. I think it is because of lack of neck around which to tie a rope. Anyways, Hubs on board facing rear end but found it difficult to reach the washing stuff. Thought it a good idea if he were to order me on board to take his place. I had a skirt and pinny on. Not to worry, "get on board anyway". So I did.
And I bent over her head, holding her head between my hands, with my knees gripping her sides, sending her warm and positive vibes as best I could. Meanwhile I knew Hubs was starting the washing down of the rear end, and knew that the first phase of squirting the hosepipe over her had begun. I knew this because I could feel cold wet seepage starting to move up my skirt and onto my botty. Not to worry, there are times when needs must and one must stay put. Which I did.
Also, it having been very hot here, at around 30 degrees, the mozzies were out in force, whizzing about for their dusk time romp-arounds. With glee they homed in on us. Delightfully they partook of a drink of our blood. Couldn't swot them away because our hands were otherwise engaged. They had a goodly feast.
And then Hubs let out an awesome moan. I sent him for indoors for the scissors. Sent him back indoors for some Citronella.
She, the lamb, had a lump on her back. Flystrike. And then the flies came in the hundreds, back for another go at her, hence the Citronella.
But the Flystrike was in its first stage. Eggs only. One huge mass of eggs, all glued together in that lump. And then some more lumps scattered over her back.
We swopped places, Hubs having become exasperated, he having had a long day, he being dreadfully tired. So I clipped and clipped away at her coat. Clipped away at her soiled coat. Clipped away at the eggy bits of coat. To drive the flies off I smothered her in Citronella. It worked. Off they scarpered.
Then we could no more. Hubs got off and opened the gate to the paddock. I didn't have anything to hold on to, so she moved, but not towards the flock, no, she did an about turn and headed off down the Side Path and back onto the field. From thence she dived into the hedge copse, and despite the best efforts of Bools and Gus, she would not budge and we couldn't reach her, so nothing to do but leave go the situation, and make a return indoors, whereupon I divested myself of my soggy clothing, and Hubs divested himself of his egg splattered clothes.
A search on the Internet produced the info that lambs, even older lambs, are susceptible to runny tums, especially if they are eating lush fresh grass. The grass is just this at the moment. Normally, so the info went, their tums will settle down. Yes but she was flystruck as well. Ah well, see what the morrow brings. Probably a very ill lamb. Need to keep her indoors, away from the flies. Don't have that facility at the moment. Probably will have to cull her, to save her any more pain. Went to sleep with visions of her huddled up in the copse her life slowly ebbing away, and thoughts of how were we going to get her out of the copse, it being like quite jungle-like due to the brambles.
AM. Up later than usual. Normally 5-ish. Today, eight-ish. Boots on. Go have a look at the lamb, preparing myself for the worst. "She's out with the others...look she's eating" is what Hubs said to me as I neared the field. Crikey, but that was a surprise. So, for now, we still have her. Will have a look at her rear end to see what manner of damage those flies have done to her. Eggs hatch into maggots. Maggots get hungry. Need to grow. Move in on available flesh so they can get the nourishment. They can leave one hell of a mess on the host body when they do this. We have already learnt the lesson from the chicken who suffered flystrike, which we didn't know about because her feathers conveniently covered the munching place of those maggots.
Meanwhile.......While Max (our Tamworth male pig) is banned from cavorting with the girls (our two Tamworth female pigs) because it is not the right time to be having the patter of tiny feet even if Max is ready to get on board one of the girls and go go go, Jacob is. Getting on board. We think.
The evidence we have had from this supposition is the scrapes of earth on the backs of the girls. Oh by the way, Jacob is our ram (of the breed Jacob), and the girls are the ewes of our flock of sheep.
Now when they arrived they already had a ram with them, but he was already breeding with his daughters so he had to go. Into the freezer he went. So they ran ramless for a while, then friends of ours brought down from the Charente Jacob. He was very small. Looked like he would need a ladder to do his job. Hubs was not impressed. But I had researched the breed and liked what I had read: that they were of an ancient breed and so therefore resistant to many of the germs and diseases that the modern hybrid sheep are prone to. They also have good wool for spinning. But they are smaller than our ewes.
So he ran with the girls. He has been with us for over a year. He is a sweet thing. Always hangs along on the back of the flock, never is a mischief, doesn't give us a hard time.
But: A problem. We have nineteen sheep. They are too many for our needs. We need to cull the herd. Probably keep the younger ewes, and cull the older ones. That was our plan. Except that we couldn't find anyone to help us in the cull. So the year marched on. The other day an Internet search fetched up an instrument to help us with the culling (Pistolet Abbatoir which is a stun gun). So, we will do the cull ourselves. Hubs knows how to. I will learn. I will stand by him while the culling takes place. I will not go into a hissy fit and gallop off in the other direction. I shall not allow myself to feel squeamish. I am, after all, a homesteader-in-training.
So, solution found. Just need to find the time to do the cull. Easier to cull one ewe at a time, less stressful for the flock, less stressful for us. Last years cull of four males in one hit was too much of everything. One at a time, that is better for us all.
However, we don't know who Jacob has got on board of and done a proper job to. It would not be a good thing for us to cull a ewe only to find out that she is expectant of a lamb. This is why one is supposed to keep the ram away from the ewes. Ah well, lessons to be learnt again. Not sure what we are supposed to do now. Wait, I suppose, to see what transpires next Spring....has Jacob managed the task of procreation, or not!
Out at the Tamworth paddocks, the electric fencing seems to be failing again. We know this because Max can be seen prowling up and down the dividing fence between him and the girls.
Chickens good though. All chicks (8) still surviving. Geese good. Still parked up in the Courtyard with the chickens and dogs, and coming in closer when their food is put down for them. We are good. Hubs has an increased work load though, (he is a computer programming whizz, working over the Internet with a company in the UK) but at least it gives us the income to keep sorting out Labartere and her land. I am busy bouncing around trying to do a million tasks, as ever! Ah well, still, life is good!
But maybe not for the lamb. Will see how she is this morning.