Having sorted out the bulk of the sheep I thought it worth checking on the goats. The pygmies were fine as usual, and Howard’s fleece was coming off naturally, but Boris needed some attention.
Her fleece is so thick that it keeps her very very warm. It also hides lots of nasty lice and suchlike. I tried to shear some of the fleece off to help cool her, but after twenty minutes of struggling with it I’d managed to cut away a patch about a foot square, and not even get it close to her skin. I gave up and concentrated on dagging her. Her bottom was fairly messy, but as much because her fleece was so long it would catch almost anything coming out!
Alex had also asked me to look at her face, both to treat it for lice and to clear some of the fleece out of the way so she could see. I did my best to clip around so she could see, and did get a lot away. I’m not sure she was happy with her hair cut though:
Then it was hoof time. She had scald affecting all four of her hooves, and I treated them all with blue spray, and trimmed the hooves back down to the right shape. I’ll probably need to do her hooves again in another couple of weeks to get the scald under control. I’m hoping that, combined with the warm weather should clear it up completely, for a while at least.
Then I put spot-on onto her. This kills lice and other such nasties. I put an extra bit on the back of her head to deal with the ones which had been bothering her face.
Her MOT was completed with a good spraying of Clik, and when I finally let her go she trotted off with only a brief admonitory bleat.
We do need to get her sheared soon though – or maybe I should try again…
While we were maintaining the sheep I looked in on Gaffer to see how she was doing. I noticed that she had three little piglets! Joy and felicitations all round. I then went back to the sheep.
I told Alex that Gaffer had given birth to three piglets. After expressing some surprise that it was so few given her size, she decided to look at them herself. She asked me if I’d been joking about there being three. I said no, somewhat bemusedly. By the time Alex had gone to look Gaffer had produced four more, for a total of seven little piggies!
They’re always very cute at that age, and seem full of beans.
This weekend we took the opportunity afforded us by the wonderful weather to do a load of sheep maintenance. We also hired in a little extra help, for the first time, to help us in the task. Over the course of four hours we maintained twenty adult ewes and half a dozen lambs.
The maintenance consisted of:
1) Check tags – have they got two, and is at least one electronic. The few which weren’t tagged we re-tagged.
2) Dag their bottoms – trim away any pooey fleece, and make sure their bottoms are nice and clean.
3) Clip their hooves – get the worst of the growth down, and check for footrot/scald – fortunately none found.
4) For the Soays only, help their moulting along by pulling off as much of the free fleece as possible. With some of them this was nearly their whole coat, with others it was only the barest of handfuls.
5) Clik them. This involves spraying Clik along their backs and in an arc over their front legs and then across their bottoms. Clik helps to prevent flystrike by stopping any fly eggs laid on the sheep from maturing. I like it because it lasts 16 weeks, though with the Mules and Suffolks at least we’re going to need to get them sheared in the very near future, as soon as we can line someone up.
The lambs were easy, we just cliked them.
It was back breaking work, but very satisfying when we finished, and we released them back into the fields, knowing that they should be much less likely to be hit by flies, and that they were generally in tip top condition.
A week or so I replaced all the tubes in the two Mason Bee containers we had. One was for Red, and the other for Blue (slightly smaller), and I filled them up as much as I could. I’d bought a bulk set so was left with quite a few, but decided I’d have them for next year.
Today I went out to check on the nests, not expecting much to have happened.
Much to my delight the first nest was entirely full:
The second was half full (here with a bee just emerging from one of the tubes) and there was a constant stream of bees visiting the tubes:
The red bottoms showed that they were red mason bees.
Alex suggested we put the other tubes up as well, given the ones already in place, so we set up a more makeshift tube holder, but hopefully it will do for them. The bees certainly seemed interested and we had our first bee in and checking things out before we’d even finished tying it up!:
Our OAP field was not supposed to produce any lambs this year. So far we’ve had six. I’ve been blaming them all on the one ram lamb who I failed to fully castrate last year. However, I think I may have assumed a little too much.
One of the lambs born last week was this one:
The lamb looks awfully similar to this old character:
Gaffer has been looking heavier and heavier recently. I think she’s only a day or two from farrowing, so have now separated her from the others. Here’s a picture of her this morning, as you can see she’s pretty big:
We’ve only managed to sell a couple of the weaners so far, so Bernard still has eight with her, and Hacker has her five. I’m kind of hoping that Gaffer has a fairly small litter!
Today is Avarice’s sixth birthday. She’s a Taurus.
As a birthday gift I took her out a bucket of food, which obviously Wrath wanted a bit of, and the OAPs also had a little of it.
Here she is getting the most of her present: