Monday 29 February 2016

The lamb, the ram....

I have just got back in from the sheep paddock. It was cold out there this morning, dry but with a brisk wind which cheerfully blew a draft up my skirt. Good thing that I had wrapped myself around with my big woollen shawl so my top half was warmer.

The photo below was taken in 2012, after our life in the caravans (seen behind my head) demanded that I had warmer winter clothes. I could have bought . hat, gloves, and winter coat, but what is the fun in that! Better to sit for hours and crochet up a big thick poncho type of shawl, a hat, and fingerless gloves. The gloves, though, have long disintegrated, helped along by the rottweiller puppies the first winter they were here. The gloves, for some reason, were on the floor, and puppies being the inquisitive beings that they are, could not help but explore the endless possibilities of play that such soft, stretchy things could give them, mostly to do with tug of war games which soon unravelled the wool. As for the hat, that is away in the cupboard, not needed now because we are in the house and the caravans are long gone, but the shawl is still very much used.

.January 2012
January 2013, and the rottweiller pups have arrived!
Anyway, back to the paddock this morning. What was I doing? Going out to feed the lamb, who we have stoically refused to name because we can't become too attached to him. If he continues to thrive then he will become a ram. We already have one ram, plus there is another male lamb born who is already growing his ram horns and is gorgeous, and this little abandoned lamb is gorgeous as well, and so the ongoing predicament of smallholders who keep animals is 'what do we do with the over abundance of livestock'.  Animals give such joy and interest, and have taught us so many life lessons through learning how to care for them, but decisions about what to do with the animals, like the male lambs when they are near to being adults, remain difficult for us, which is a good thing, because it stops us from being hardened to the reality of keeping livestock. For us, a place without animals is a place which has no heart. this morning......on the way out to feed the lamb. I 'do' the morning and evening feeds, and Lester does the lunch time feed. All the sheep were inside their little barn. I suppose the chilliness of the morning was keeping them inside. Yesterday I went into the barn to feed the lamb because it was raining. 'Best not to do that again', is what I thought, as eight sheep plus their lambs took umbrage at my appearance and nearly knocked me over in their haste to get away from me. It would not have been so bad if the ewes and ram had kept all their feet on the ground, but they didn't. They went into leaping mode, just like they would have been when they were lambs. Having a heavy sheep leap towards you, and than past you, at shoulder height is quite scary. Trust me. This is not something you want to experience!
But then the sheep all came back into the barn to see what I was doing, all now calm. A couple even came up to say hello as I fed the lamb. Now that is something that I would like you experience!
...... so this morning......everyone was in the barn.....I called out 'Lamby, where are you?' in the hopes that he would come outside. I could hear his little bleat of acknowledgment. I saw him dive under the udder of a ewe in the hopes of getting some milk, but she flipped him away with her head. I lost sight of him. Could see the ram suddenly do an upward curve to his back. Had a momentary thought of 'Crikey, what's wrong with him....', saw him hunch upwards even more, and another thought flashed quick and sharp  into my head 'Oh no, that really does not look good......'
......but I need to get that lamb fed before the milk cools down in the bottle. Warm milk runs sweet and fast through the teat, cooler milk takes forever to flow.
I call to the lamb again. Meanwhile I am fixated with the dreamy look the ram is now getting. I call again. At the same time I see four little black feet, and they are underneath the ram. I bend over to get a better look, hoping that the lamb would move before the ram collapsed in a heap on him.
Ummmmm...... see the lamb nuzzling on the willy of the ram. Now know the reason why the ram was not looking his normal self. Ummmm...... 'Here's the milk, here......come here'......I say. See the ram suddenly jolt out of his state of bliss. See him turn sideways and with his huge horns scoop up the lamb and flip him into the air. See the lamb scurry through the feet of the sheep, and on out towards me. Milk given. Job done.
As for the rest of our small flock..... the other lambs are growing quickly and now spend most of their day grazing, with their mums now only letting them have milk for a few seconds now and again. And yesterday we had the first of the lamb escapees of the year. I have no doubt that there will more to come. For some reason young animals reach a stage when they feel the need to get through any barriers which get in their way, preferably a wired fence through which they either go through, under, or over. This applies to chicks, piglets, and lambs. All will feel the need to venture forth from where they should be. The first lamb, then, escaped from the big field, only to get into a fret when it could not get back to its mum, possibly encouraged in its fretting by Maz deciding to have a go at being a sheep dog.
I now need to go feed the chicks. No problem there. Just change their water, and put another plate of food down. The biggest chick was getting very bullying towards the little black chick, so I put the big chick into a box on his own so he could have an opportunity to review its behaviour. It stayed in the box for a couple of hours. It seemed to do the trick, and the bullying seemed to stop.
So the abandoned lamb is doing well, although can get into a muddle as to exactly where to get his milk from, the chicks are now growing some proper feathers, and I now have Boolie doing his 'You have been seen sitting too long at the computer' whine, Maz is nudging me with her nose, Blue is licking her legs, something she knows will always get my attention because the endless sound of lick, lick, lick, gets on my nerves! So what they are collectively saying is ' We Want Our Breakfast'!
Bye for now,

Wednesday 24 February 2016

The squashed chicks and abandoned lamb......

So, what is Lester up to?
Feeding a male lamb which had been rejected by his mum.
Still touch and go as to whether he will survive or not,
but at least we are trying.
We had hoped to get him back with the flock today so that he can make friends with other lambs and have a frolic in the sunshine with them,  just so he can be part of the their world rather than ours.
...... on his way out to the field,

Well it looked like a plan, but it was not to be, because the rest of the flock decided to not like Lester getting too close to them and galloped off across the field en masse.
Oh dear.
So Plan B is to put the lamb into the paddock so he can hopefully join up with everyone when they come in for the night, meanwhile we shall continue to bottle feed him.
Migrating birds flew overhead today, flying northwards.
A great long skein of them, which must have meant many birds were in flight.
It is now the evening of the day, and the lamb is still with us,
but happily staying out in the paddock.
All the sheep and lambs are now in from the field,
and he is nowhere to be seen,
so he must be inside the barn with some of them.

At least he has company.
And then there was the hen who took it upon herself to lay a heap of eggs.
In a secret place she did this, so we knew not where it was.
Having not seen her for a quite a long time we assumed a fox had eaten her,
but no, 'twas not a fox that did her unto death,
it was a hay bale that had done the deed,
the hay bale inadvertently encouraged to do so
by Lester needing to feed the cows and sheep
so he opened this particular bale
and took what he needed in his usual manner.
(December 2015, .... the bail on the right has now been eaten)
Now once hay bails have had their confining strings cut they tend to go floppy,
which is a good thing in some ways because it makes it easier to get the hay off them,
but not so good in other ways because the hay bail can collapse into a heap,
and thus render any small living being totally squashed beneath the weight of the hay.
Which is what happened to the hen.
For she had parked herself up at the back of the hay bail on the left in this photo,
close to food, but hidden from view which meant she could not be saved from her fate because no one knew she was there.
And so it was that last week it came to be the end of another day,
Lester was sitting on the steps of the Tall Barn ( seen in the lower corner of the photo)
filling up the water buckets for the cows to have a drink from.
He heard some faint twitterings,
thought that a hen was hatching eggs nearby,
was able to push the hay back sufficient to have a look,
reached down and pulled out the very squashed corpse of the mum hen,
so thoroughly dead that she was stiff like a plank of wood.
Adhering to the underneath of her body were bits of broken eggshells,
which must have become squashed as she got squashed.
.....And yet there, in amongst the mass of eggy glunk
were three little chicks,
with another one mostly out of its shell but with  a body half flat.
Swiftly were they were taken inside the house and heated up.
A week later, and they are still with us.
The half flat chick is on the right, but is now no more,
but the others are holding on.
They seem to growing alright, but at a slower rate than normally hatched chicks.
But they are still in life.
 Lester is out milking the cows at the moment,
it is 8 in the evening, and it has been a long, but productive, day,
so I need to go out to the barn and keep him company, just for a while,
so, bye for now,

Tuesday 16 February 2016

Well the geese are enjoying themselves!

We are in the 'wet time' now,
and the river is running swollen and heavy.
I frequently find myself looking out at our land,
waiting to see if today the river will over flow and embrace our fields.
But the geese,
they are in their most joyful time,
and are to be often found with their plump white bums pointing skywards,
as they bathe in the water lying on the field.
...and here they are, drying off after their bath

As I write this, they are on their way out of the courtyard.
They have just had their breakfast,
and Lester has let them out onto the farm.
They are very chatty this morning,
so would I be if I was a goose,
but I am not,
so I remain indoors.

..... and Maz, into the water she  also went,
.... but not Blue, who thinks of herself as a lady, so does not like to get wet.

... and the two girls, running just for fun...

 Blue in front, her slimness of shape allowing her to run like a greyhound, and Maz behind, heavier in build so slower. Boolie is off to one side. He doesn't join in with their mad gallops, but will have wrestling matches indoors with them, which I have to put a stop to because the tumour on his ear will inevitably break open and bleed if things get too rough.
And here are some more rompings....
 New lambs, running.....
......and skipping,

then calming down for a nibble of grass. Although only a few days old, they are already grazing, but only for a few minutes here and there, leaving them time to sleep and play.

And our flock, waiting to go across to the side field.
.... and across the lane they go...

Obviously these photos were taken during a break in the rain,
which means that the river should have time to get its load of flood water away to the coast before the next lot of rain falls, which most surely it will judging by the heavy black clouds which keep coming our way.
The wind: we had a huge wind the other night.
Reminded me of the hurricane of January 2009, when we lived in a caravan.
Caravans are fragile things, this we found out during that hurricane, which has left us with a nervousness about strong winds.
Not to worry, the recent wind was strong, but not fiercely strong.
The smallholding, and all that there is on it, remained undamaged.
Saying 'bye for now'
as I move on into my day.

Saturday 6 February 2016

Etceltera , carpal tunnel, lambs.

Not a very good photo, but it is a photograph of a poster,
and on the poster it says:
+ EtCelterra.
7th February 2016
17h Garlin Church.
Free entry.
So for why would I be posting up a photo of a poster?
Because.....Etcelterra is the name of the band that Lester and I play in,
(fiddle and mandolin for himself, and piano accordion for me)
and it is our first gig.
Not sure what a Gospel choir is going to make of our rollicking version of 'Whiskey in the Jar',
but not to worry,
I am sure it will be alright.
I hope!
We are booked to play at three more gigs already this year.
Was taking the washing in from the clothes line,
all of a hurry because I was at a critical point with making today's cheese,
when I heard the tiniest of little sounds,
sounds which sent me scurrying out to the sheep paddock.
Two little black and white lambs, and another lamb recently arrive
 It is lovely to have lambs again.
Could watch for ages the skipping and hopping as the lambs go into frisky mode.
Doesn't last long though, maybe for a month or so,
then they start eating grass and stop frisking,
although will still have 'end of day' sessions,
when the lambs all band together and go into hooligan mode.


Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, that is what I have got in my wrists.
No operation though, no sir!
Did a hunt on the Internet and found a vid made by someone who corrected the problem himself by doing simple stretch exercises.
Have been doing them, and my wrists are now more workable,
which is a good thing, because I am playing the accordion tomorrow with the band.
I would look a bit silly sitting with an accordion on my lap and not playing it.
Lester has the lead on most of the music because the fiddle player does not want to do gigs any more, but still comes to rehearsals, so Lester is stepping into the gap.
It is a good thing that he is experienced with playing in a band.
As for me, I don't take the lead on anything,
so I can relax and enjoy playing.


Off out to lunch today,
followed by a trip to the local garden centre,
because Spring is rolling in fast,
and we need to get going with planting things.
Lester is taking control of the garden this year.
I expect there will be a few battles about where things will be put.
He is a 'tidy' gardener, I am a 'grow anywhere' type of gardening person.

The sun is shining,
the birds are singing,
everything is starting to want to bust out into new growth,
which is good,
however, in the background of our minds is the fact that this warm weather is pushing things on far too early. Ah well, not to worry. It is as it is.

Bye for now,