A couple of months ago I saw Lafite coming to food, but holding back from the other sheep. It was while we were trying to round up the Mules and Suffolks for their maintenance, so I wasn’t too bothered until I got a bit closer and realised that there was blood on her head. I tried to get closer but she was even flightier than usual. The blood was coming down from the base of her right horn.
I kept an eye out for her over the next few days, and while she wouldn’t let me get close to her, and wouldn’t come for food, she seemed OK, and there was no repeat of the blood. I assumed all was fine, until a week later. She turned up with just a single horn. No blood, and she was absolutely fine, if anything she was less flighty and I managed to get within a couple of feet of her. I think the horn had just been held on by the scab or something.
Still she’s oblivious to her loss, and doesn’t seem to being treated any differently by the rest of the flock.
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.
And the spectrum swings back towards death. One of the Boreray/Suffolk cross triplets was dead this morning when I went out to feed them. He (all three were boys) had looked a little weak last night during feeding, but was up on his feet and following his mum around, so there seemed no need to intervene. This morning he was curled up lifelessly next to his brother.
That means we have twelve lambs so far, six ewe lambs and six ram lambs, for a certain symmetry.
It also means that we’ve lost forty percent of our Boreray/Suffolk cross lambs. I’m wondering if part of the reason the Boreary is so rare is that the lambs die. I’m going to have to see if there is any information out there about that, though I certainly haven’t seen anything. Hopefully these two were just unfortunate coincidence, and the rest of Haan’s progeny will be stronger.
I found two more of our piglets dead this morning. One was from Hacker’s litter, nothing seemed wrong with it but that sometimes happens in the first day or so, more often with pigs than with lambs. Also one of Bernard’s litter, which seems to have got lost and managed to get into the enclosure with Hacker and Gaffer. Not sure what happened there.
All the rest of the piglets seemed fine, and I suspect it won’t be long until we see Bernard’s lot running around outside.
Lamb watch: Still just the 5. This is the fun we have by not controlling the ram’s access, we get a much, much longer lambing season. I’d expect the remaining Suffolks and Mules to pop in the next couple of weeks, and then the Soays will start, they’re usually a bit later. Perhaps because they’re a bit more flighty and harder for Muga to catch? I have no idea how the Borerays will fit into the cycle, but suspect they’ll be closer to the Soays.
Ex-bat egg watch: None.
One of the lambs born on the 20th didn’t make it through the full twenty-four hours. He was one of the twins born to our black faced Suffolk in with the Borerays. He’d been fine on the 20th, but by yesterday he was very unwell, unable even to get up. His mother was trying to persuade him up, but he just didn’t have the energy. I made up and fed him some colostrum, thinking that maybe he didn’t get enough milk from his mum, but it didn’t help and he died a short while later. The ewe sat with him, until I took him away. Poor little thing.
Not the most cheerful time of year. A couple of days ago when I fed the chickens I noticed that one of the ex-bats was rather listless. She was out with the rest, but didn’t want to move around very much, and certainly wasn’t pestering me for food, unlike the others. I threw some to her and she pecked at it, but was soon mobbed by the others. I wondered if she was a slow riser, or bothered by the cold, but didn’t think that much more of it. That night all the chickens were fine, clustering round me and demanding to be fed. That seemed to confirm my theory that she was a slow starter. Yesterday all was fine again, and so I stopped worrying.
This morning one of the ex-bat hens was outside next to one of the trees, and quite dead. It wasn’t clear what killed her, though something had decided to have a little go at her after she was dead, possibly a rat or something like that. It might not even have been the same hen, and was just a coincidence, but it’s still not much fun.
Chickens can be disposed of on the property and we usually either bury them or cremate them. Given how cold it is and how solid the ground is, I’ve gone with cremation. I hope her last month was pleasant, even if her life has been cut short.
A couple of days ago I noticed that Sir Humphrey was limping, and he wasn’t coming to food quite as quickly. He was still pushing Bernard around, but not as much as usual, and I was a little worried. I climbed in and checked the leg. It seemed fine, no obvious injuries, but it was clearly quite tender and after only a short while Humph made it clear he wasn’t going to tolerate any more. Having escaped with all my limbs intact I resolved to watch him carefully, and get the vet out if it looked like it was going to immobilise him.
One minor upside to his limping was that it made it less likely he was going to get over the fence and bother Hacker and Gaffer. In fact I suspect the injury might have been a result of trying to get over to them. This meant I didn’t need to rush to fix the water and move them back into the area we originally wanted them in.
Today Humphrey was looking a lot better, and was quite sprightly when it came to feeding time. Not quite up to his usual level but almost. No real trace of a limp either. All good stuff.
Except now I have to fix that water soon…
When I went out to feed the animals last night Bertie was lying on his side unmoving. I thought he might just be being lazy, but closer inspection revealed that he was in fact dead. I’d really thought he was getting better, he’s mostly been getting up on his own, and I was thinking that fairly soon he’d be back out in the fields. I suspect the very cold weather took it’s toll and he was relatively old for a goat, at somewhere between seven and a half and eight years old, but still very sad to see him go.
I often called him Bertholemew, on the basis that was obviously his full name. He was always a friendly goat, and not just after food all the time. He used to wander after us when we went for a walk in the field at non-feeding times, and he charmed a number of our visitors over the years. We will definitely miss him.
Here he is a couple of days ago:
And here’s how he looked shortly after he arrived in May 2006, chomping at the grass with Boris (on the right) – the shed in the background was destroyed only weeks later by Bertie, who for some reason took a distinct dislike to it and battered it down:
We’ve continued to give Bertie special attention. He still struggles to get up, but is making it on his own three out of every four attempts, which is better than it might be. Once he’s up though he’s unstoppable and rushes over to the nearest food with vigour, and even pushes the others out of the way. It’s heartening to see, but I suspect we’ll probably need to keep helping him get up for quite a while, if not forever.
Here he is, getting stuck in with Boris beside him:
Bertie is finally up and about on his own! I’ve only had to help him up once in the last few days, the rest of the time he’s been able to get up on his own. He makes a bit of a meal of it, but he gets up and I think it’s getting easier for him. I even saw him out in the field yesterday, for the first time in weeks. He’s also making sure he gets his food in, and not letting the others push him off, which is another excellent sign of progress.
This morning we thought we’d take the opportunity to treat all the goats for footrot/scald, as Boris and Moby have been limping again, and Howard looked like he was slightly favouring one of his hooves. We prepared the footbath of hoof phast, and then did all four hooves of each of: Bertie, Boris, Howard and Moby. Ishy was out and about in the field, and doesn’t seem to have any rot issues at the moment, so she missed out on the bathing. They don’t like it a huge amount, but with me holding them, and Alex keeping the hoof in the foot bath to went fairly smoothly. We also injected Boris, Moby and Howard with anti-biotic to hopefully completely kill off the footrot bacteria.
Everything seems fairly happy at the moment, with the exception of the cows. They’re definitely hungry, both mooing rather aggressively whenever they see us, but until they’ve lost some of the extra weight they’re carrying we’re going to be keeping them on short rations.