The sheep numbers have been particularly on the increase in the last year, peaking at around eighty this year. For us to be successful in reducing our animal numbers we’d need to do two things:
1) Get last years lambs off on holiday.
2) Reduce the number of ewes we have.
The first was relatively challenging. With the numbers as they were the sheep were far less biddable than in previous years. A bucket or two of feed wasn’t getting to all of them, and the most flighty lambs were never getting addicted to the sweet sweet nectar of ruminant mix. After some effort I did manage to catch ten of them, get them into the horse box and off to the holiday home. (They were very tasty). We still have some left which need to be dealt with, but that requires some maneuvering and acclimatisation.
Getting rid of the ewes was in some ways a little trickier, as we needed to find someone who wanted to buy them. In the end however that bit wasn’t too bad. The Soays are popular and a lot of people want to buy them, even if they aren’t registered. I managed to sell two of the older Soay ewes fairly easily, and then found a buyer for the remaining ewes I wanted to sell, and also many of the lambs. This was great, I was going to be able to offload twenty odd sheep in one go.
The plan was to round the sheep up in the channel between the pigs, and then load them up in the trailer and deliver them. The morning came round, bright and cheerful, and Alex and Sue were ready to help me load them up. I enticed all but five of the sheep into the channel.
And then I got greedy.
Instead of booking that as a win and closing the gate, I tried to persuade the others in. Disastrous idea as the rest then decided it was fishy and ran out. We then spent about an hour and a half running around trying to persuade them back in. Eventually we managed to get eight into the channel, three ewes and their lambs. And that’s what we took. I was completely knackered. But we agreed we’d aim to take the rest about a week later.
For round two I decided two things, a) I was not going to be greedy, b) I was going to acclimatise them a bit more.
Then something happened, the old Soay OAP ram died. The last of the rams. It was sad to see him go as he’d been a friendly old boy, and while he’d been looking a little doddery for a while, he was still going strong. Then one day he didnt come for feed, and I went to find him and he was dead. I think he’d woken up that morning, and decided it was a good day to go, and then just slipped away.
What this meant was we could now mix the flocks, as Muga wouldn’t have someone he’d have to fight. This also meant I could use the proper sheep catching area by the animal restaurant.
The day of the second delivery cam, and I managed to entice all but the hard-core OAPs into the areas. I then closed them down (not being greedy this time), and sorted out the sheep. Some crutching was required, and a few replacement tags, but it wasn’t too much hassle. A mere hour after starting I had fourteen or so ewes and lambs loaded up to take for the second delivery, and off we went.
We still have three ewes I want to sell (the OAPs progeny from last year), and quite a few which need to go on holiday, but we’re back below fifty sheep like creatures, which is definite progress!
OAPs (plus interloper):
Mules (White face on left):