Second wave in full flow!

Yesterday we had two more lambs, the first Soays.  Twin girls for Lafite.  She’s very protective of them, and was very unhappy with me today when I docked their tails.  They are very cute though.

Today Luke’s sister, a Suffolk/Soay cross, had a singleton.  It looks so small it’s amazing it can even walk!

I saw one of the other Soays hiding under the trees, and looking very watchful when I got close to her.  She didn’t have any lambs yet, but it’s likely she will have by the morning!

So that makes fifteen lambs now this year.  Which is nice.

Heavy Soays

I managed to get a couple of good snaps of one of our Soay ewes.  Given how slender they normally are, you can see two definite bulges, one on either side.  It doesn’t mean she’s carrying twins, but I think it does mean she’ll drop soon.  I also noticed that the ewe Mule in with the Borerays has now got a full milk bag, which means she’ll probably drop in the next few days as well.  Second wave of lambs are a-coming!

Rats – again

The rats have returned, and are attacking our feed again.  Not a huge surprise I guess, especially after Howard had been in there and broken open a number of bags, therby leaving food all over the place.

So I’ve been scratching my head about what to do, because I really didn’t want to buy the metal bins.  Unfortunately I realised that I didn’t have a choice, unless I was willing to keep feeding a growing rat population.  Having made that decision I did a search today to find the best place to buy some feed bins, without paying an arm and a leg.  I stumbled upon a discussion on a horse related forum where the last recommendation was to use an old chest freezer, on the basis they are vermin proof, insulate and last forever.

Where would I get such a thing?  Well, as last year I bought a nice new shiny freezer, I now have four chest freezers which I will need to get rid of at some point.  Two problems have nicely cancelled each other out, and as a bonus I get to clear some more space in the main barn.  Tomorrow I’m selling some meat, and I’ll use the opportunity to empty a couple of the freezers.

I love it when a plan comes together…

Waiting for lambs

We’ve always had a bit of a break in our lambing cycle.  First the Mules and Suffolks pop, and then we wait for a bit and then the Soays pop.  As it happens each year I’m guessing it’s something to do with the breed.  Maybe the longer days and nights up on the island of Soay mean they wait for later in the year before being in season, though clearly it doesn’t stop the rams!  Given that the Borerays have also not yet popped (assuming they are actually pregnant), I would guess this means they are the same sort of cycle as the Soays.

Some of the Soay ewes are really starting to look heavy, so I suspect it’s not going to be that long before we start our second wave of lambing!

Didn’t get any good pictures of the Soays this morning, but got some nice misty shots of the Borerays (and friends), of which this is my favourite:

 

The IN thing

We’ve kept sheep for about five years now, and had four seasons of newborn lambs.  Beofre this year I don’t think I’d ever seen a lamb sitting on it’s mother.  Maybe I’ve just forgotten it, but I can’t see how.  I’ve mentioned that the Boreray/Suffolk lamb occasionally sits on her mother, but I thought it was just her.  But no, I’ve now seen it a couple more times and managed to get a picture of one of the Soay/Mule lambs sitting on her mother:

This was taken with my iphone, as trying to get a zoom shot with my Nikon is what seems to have broken Nikon (the lens is being awkward, permanently).  Unfortunately with all my messing around with my image capturing equipment I failed to capture the moment when both lambs were standing on their mum, until the first one was nudged off.

Still, given it appears to be this season’s excitement I’m sure I’ll get another opportunity!

Lazy Piglets

In the morning when I go out to feed the animals I am greeted with a cacophony of farmyard noises.  At every fence there are animals waiting for their food, and demanding I deliver it faster.  This means that when an animal doesn’t come running to the fence it’s generally a sign of concern, unless it’s Boris (who’s deaf), in which case it means she was facing the wrong way and didn’t notice all the animals getting excited.

The only exception is with the piglets.  They’re a couple of weeks old now and so during the day often get out and about, but in the mornings they’re just not interested in coming out.  Sure their mothers are getting fed, but it means nothing to them, their feeding will come along later.  So they lie their in a nice big pile, and snooze away a little longer.  That’s the life.

It’s only very occasionally that I get a chance to get a good set of pictures when the piglets are feeding, as usually they hide away, or the sow gets up to see whether I’ve brought some food.  However the other day I was lucky enough to get some footage (sadly it’s likely to be the last for a while as my camera has packed up):

Bernard’s Piglets Feeding

Eggstacy!

We’ve had geese for several years, and ducks for same time period.  In all that time I’ve only ever managed to have a couple of duck eggs, and no goose eggs.  That all changed a few days ago.

First of all the ducks.  I’ve found where they are laying, and sneakily decided to leave an egg in place, so as not to dissuade them from continuing to use the spot I have harvested an egg every day or so.  The egg I’ve left is quite easy to spot, so I’m fairly certain I wont grab an old egg.

Now the geese.  I have written on occasion about their boundless aggression.  At this time of the year it’s even worse, and all because it’s laying time.  Therefore getting an egg from the goose was always going to be a challenge.  Of the three geese the ganders are the talkative ones, and the goose very rarely says much.  However, when I walked close to her while she was sitting on her eggs, she went ballistic.  Louder than the ganders combined, and it brought them flapping over with murder on their minds.

However, she’s not sitting, so they do wander a bit, and so I took the opportunity on Friday when they were about fifty feet away to go and investigate the egg.  Since I’d last looked she’d laid a couple more eggs, and I managed to grab one of those quickly.  I had to back away pretty smartish as the geese were almost on top of me, with murder in their eyes.

Still I had my prize, as well as a duck egg, and also, miracle of miracles, an egg from one of the ex-bats.  The first one from them in weeks!  So my lunch was decided.  Eggs!  Here they are in the pan:

It’s pretty obvious which is which as they correspond to the size of the birds!

The duck egg, as always, tasted like a stronger chicken egg, particularly nice.  The goose egg tasted exactly like the chicken egg, but the yolk was much thicker, as well as much much bigger!  Much eggcitement I must say.

I haven’t managed to get any other goose eggs since then, though have had a couple more duck eggs.  No more ex-bat chicken eggs, but the original four are giving me about three a day.

Coda:  The geese went mental about an hour ago.  I assumed it was someone visiting who’d become lost, but when I looked out there was no one around.  One of the geese seemed to be shouting at a crow sitting on the fence, and then I noticed the goose trying to marshal an egg, which had apparently been cracked open.  I think the crows, and probably the magpies, had repeated my trick and stolen a goose egg.  Maybe the goose will sit on them now.  Which may prevent me from getting another one!

More bad news

We lost another lamb yesterday.  It was the second lamb of the Boreray/Suffolk triplets born on Tuesday.  He seemed a little slow in the morning, and I was thinking that I’d take him some lambs milk in the afternoon to see if that helped.  I checked up on him before lunch and he seemed fine.  After lunch he was dead.

I’m really starting to think there may be an issue with the Boreray breeding.  Hopefully the Mules in there are pregnant, and we’ll see something positive out of them, and obviously the Boreray ewes as well.

We’ve never lost three lambs during a season before and it’s rather upsetting.

Sheep Mothering instincts – Mules vs Suffolks

There’s a definite difference between the mothering instincts of the Mules, and of the Suffolks.  The Mules are excellent mothers, and the Suffolks, well, they’re a little more lassez-faire.

When the lambs are first born the Mule ewes are very protective of them, and often won’t move more than twenty or thirty feet away from where they gave birth for at least the first day or so.  It means I tend to have to take food out to them, which can be interesting as when a scrum develops.  Normally the ewe I’m trying to give the extra food to backs away, and then I try and get throw some more to her.  Now I try and distract the others before going out to the new mother.  As the lambs get older the Mule ewes allow them a little more room, and then after a week or two the lambs can reign free and the Mule only looks up now and again to see where they are.  If the lambs are bleating the Mule ewe will stop what she’s doing, even if she’s eating lovely ruminant mix, and look around to make sure she knows why the lamb is making a fuss.  When their lambs start to suckle they almost always stop what they are doing and let them.

The Suffolks have more of a keep-up-with-me-or-else kind of philosophy.  Even when the lamb is barely just been born when it comes to food time the ewes will come to the normal feeding area and dive in.  Even if this means their lambs are left behind, or, sometimes worse, they tag along and get knocked around by the others.  They’ll also ignore the bleating of their lambs while they dive in for the food.  Often when their lambs start to suckle they’ll walk forward to knock them off, especially if there’s the potential of some food.

To be fair, some Suffolks are more motherly than others, and some Mules are less so, but the differences between the breeds are surprisingly wide.