Lambs on holiday

As we continue our planned animal reduction the time had come for some of our lambs to go on holiday.  The day arrived, and I had a clear plan.  The majority of the sheep had already been separated, and most of the lambs were in the field with the goats.  it was easy to persuade them into the smaller fenced area with some feed.  Though one of them was particularly uninterested in being caught, even when I took it extra feed.  I decided I had enough with seventeen of them caught, and didn’t want to lose the rest by being greedy, so I closed them in.  Having got them in there I knew that it wouldn’t take me long to close down the hurdles and get them where I wanted them.

Three of the lambs had somehow got back in with the ewes and Muga.  I knew catching these would be tricky, but I hoped I could persuade them into the channel between the pigs.  In the event I nearly managed to get them all in, but failed at the last minute, and just got the larger of the three.  If it had been a boy I’d have let him go, but it was a girl.  I had caught her, but I now needed to get her into the pen with all the others.  Normally I’d carry them, but she was just a little too big, so I had to persuade her along.  I discovered that if I held her just under her front legs it seemed to tickler her and she’d struggle forward.  It meant I had to make sure I held on, but in this way I managed to get her in with the others.

By this time I was already tired, and of course it started to rain!  I had two things to do now, first I needed to replace any missing tags, which isn’t too bad, but then I had to crutch them all.  Never a lot of fun, and made worse by the rain.  It’s amazing how unhappy lambs are to have me trimming the hair right next to their sensitive areas.  Fortunately most of them had pretty clean bottoms, and we’d crutched some of the older ones earlier in the year which made it quite a bit easier.  I didn’t want to take all of them, for freezer space reasons if nothing else, but wanted to make sure we took all of the girls.  This meant we took eleven in the end, leaving only one girl, the fox-coloured one, as Alex felt it was just cruel to take her, especially as she was so small.  We managed to load them fairly quickly, and off they went to their new temporary home.

I’m expecting to hear from the butcher next week and I can decided the cuts, which will be good!

We’re now down to around 32 sheep, which is the lowest I think it’s been in four years!

Sir Humphrey has moved on to pastures new

A few days ago Sir Humphrey boarded a trailer to be taken to his new home (and not on holiday, it really is a new home for him!).  It was sad to see him go, especially as he’s now going to become (hopefully) a star as he’s on the front cover of my book (see link to the right).

However, he’s been awfully good at his job, and it was quite clear that he felt he was failing us.  He tried several times to get in with Gaffer and Bernard.  In fact I’d come out almost every day to find one or other of the gates on its side and Humphrey running back and forth in the alley between the pens.  I think it would only have been a matter of time before he’d got in with the other two sows.  Given how effective he has been that would have meant that we’d have had a couple more litters in the New Year, more or less the worst time from a weather perspective.  I think (hope!) that he didn’t somehow make it in with them and then get out again without us noticing.

Finding Sir Humphrey a new home was probably one of the biggest parts of our animal reduction programme, as even though he is but a single pig, he has been responsible for the production of more animals on our holdings than anyone else (though Muga isn’t THAT far behind to be honest!).  I think he’ll enjoy his new home though, and hope that his new carers get as much joy from him as we did.

Piggies!

So we’ve managed to sell Humphrey and Hacker as part of our animal reduction plan.  Part of the sale was that hacker was in pig.  She is in pig no more… as yesterday she gave birth to approximately ten little piglets!  I haven’t managed to get a good count on them, and am trying not to disturb them too much…

I’d thought she was likely to give birth towards the end of next month, and she really wasn’t showing any signs of being that close to popping.

I’ll take pictures in due course!

New Home for Humphrey and Hacker

As part of our general animal reduction we’ve decided to sell Sir Humphrey and Hacker.  Sir Humphrey has to go as if we keep him he will continue to cover our sows and we will continue to have litters of new piglets, and we’d like a break from that for a while.  While the reasoning makes sense we’re both going to miss him, as he’s been such a big part of our lives for the last few years.

Hacker is going too as we only wanted two pigs left – the minimum number really as they need at least one friend.  I’d always agreed we could never get rid of Gaffer, and Bernard, being mostly white, is less likely to sell.  We also put a lot of effort into saving her when she was injured early on after we bought her, so there’s an emotional attachment there too.  Whereas Hacker has never really been any problem, apart from the occasional reminder to feed her.

With them going, we only have the two alpacas for sale, and then 24 animals (3 pigs, and 21 sheep) destined to go on holiday over the next few months.  Once they’re all gone we will have less than fifty creatures on the smallholding for the first time in several years.  Hopefully that will make the winter far less work!

Update – Alpacas

Algy and Verdigris continue to be fairly low maintenance.  Well except for Algy and his lust for our ewes.  He’s particularly keen on the Suffolks, and they really don’t appreciate the attention.  I’ll look out and see the whole flock running, and a twenty or thirty yards is Algy running with his head down, focused on one of the Suffolk ewes.

Verdigris is either more subtle, or doesn’t fancy the sheep as I’ve never seen him do anything similar.

We had them both sheared, which is always a rather industrial process as they have to be tied down to keep them in place.  They really don’t like being man-handled!  We sold their fleece on eBay, as whole fleeces.  Unfortunately the bidding didn’t not reach the frenzy we’d anticipated, and we had underestimated the cost of postage!  This meant we actually lost money on the fleeces.  The nice lady who bought the fleece noticed and was kind enough to make a donation which at least covered the cost of postage.  We’ve never done well with selling the fleece.  I’m sure there must be a better way…

We’ve decided that the alpacas need to find a new home, as part of our animal reduction plan.  On the one hand they are relatively low maintenance, but on the other they don’t do a lot, and they do stress the sheep.  So we’re trying to sell them.  I have high hopes!

Further sheep reductions…

We continue to make progress on getting our flock down to reasonable proportions!  Today we managed to sell three more Soay ewes.

I’d put an advert in a couple of months ago when I was selling the large portion, and one of the people who answered after I’d sold all I’d planned to said that I should contact her if I ever wanted to sell any more Soays.  I was looking at the OAPs and their ewe daughters, and I thought it best to sell the daughters on, as I wasn’t planning on breeding them, and they were too pretty to take on holiday.  So I emailed the nice lady, and arranged for her to come and pick them up today.

Once again I persuaded all of the sheep into one of our fenced off areas.  Unfortunately the cows came in as well, and as we were trying to close down the area Wrath especially started running around and kicking up.  With some deft maneuvering I managed to get Wrath out of the area.  At which point Avarice decided that she really wanted to help us… so she herded the OAPs and their daughters into the area of the hurdles.  With some quick work with the hurdles the sheep were caught, and I managed to persuade Avarice out before she decided to kick up again.

A quick retagging of one of the ewes, an exchange of money and paperwork, and they were on their way, and our flock was another step smaller.  A good day’s work!

The sheep are the ones with stars next to them in this picture: