As part of reducing the chance of further escapes we decided we needed to move the roaming boys into the field with the Borerays. This is our field with the best fencing, and is also the pre-holiday holding area, and last year’s boys really do need to go soon.
I thought that after their recent escapades they’d be a bit nervous, and unwilling to enter into the channel between the pig areas, but they followed me in, and when I scattered a load of food they were all over it. This allowed me to walk back round and close the gate up. I managed to get twenty sheep in there altogether, leaving only half a dozen to wander. Crucially I captured all of the white boys.
Now I could have just walked them through and let the boys into the Boreray field, but I don’t often get them all in one place. Also I thought it might save me some time in a week or two if I crutched the boys (which involves trimming the fleece back around their bottoms) as this is a requirement before they go on holiday. I could also dag the other sheep (which involves trimming away any poo covered fleece around their bottoms).
This is a relatively difficult activity requiring speed, to catch the sheep, and also to keep control of them, dexterity, to be able to move around and actually get to their bottoms, while controlling them, and flexibility. Think Twister, but with one of the participants choosing to writhe around wildly every few minutes or so. It’s also exhausting. I’d managed to check through the first eight when I had to take a breather as I was knackered. A couple of them had quite pooey bottoms and needed quite a bit of trimming, the others only needed a little bit of work.
As I started working on the others it started to rain, and then as I continued it began to rain properly. I did not let this deter me. I figured having got this far I might as well complete the lot. The only problem was that I couldn’t Clik them, which would be to spray them with Clik to help prevent flystrike. It lasts for five months, and so far as been very effective for us. Clik needs a bit of dry weather to properly soak into, and dry on the fleece, so I’ll need to get the keepers in again in the next week or so to Clik them, if it stays dry for a day or two.
I’m making this sound all a little clean and easy. It was anything but. In fact my hands were covered in poo, both from the bottoms, and also from the new poo which the sheep were producing, in one case while actually sitting on me. A couple of the bottoms were particularly bad, requiring quite a lot of trimming. There are a few reasons for their bottoms to be bad, the pastures being rich being one which has affected our sheep in the past. However one of the other likely reasons is worms. Last year we tested for worms and had a relatively low number. It’s likely this is, at least in part, because we mix our stock, so we have cows and alpacas in with the sheep. The exact mechanism for this I don’t entirely understand but it does seem to be the case.
Still, it’s best to check every year, so I gathered up a sample of poo. Alex had helpfully brought out the sample bottles and some gloves. The gloves were sadly way too late, but the bottles were useful. I managed to get a very fresh sample in when I was dealing with the very next sheep:
Eventually I’d checked them all, trimmed those that needed it, and crutched the boys. There were four white boys, and two Soays. These six I let into the field with the Borerays. Actually what happened was that as I’d been checking and trimming htem I’d put all the girls into a separate pen, so by the end only the six boys were in the initial enclosure, and the remaining OAP ram. As I was maneuvering him out of the space the gate into the Boreray field opened itself, and the six just trotted in. Very lucky for me that it hadn’t opened any sooner!
So that means I have eight boys ready to go on holiday, six of whom have already been crutched, which means that come the day of travel it should be, relatively, and with all caveats implied and understood, easy to load them.
I’ll still need to get the rest in to Clik them, and I need a few more poo samples to get a view across all the fields. But all in all a day of progress. That’s what I told myself as I stumbled, exhausted and aching, back to the house, there to strip off my sodden, and in the case of the trousers, poo-covered, clothes. Looking after animals is a lot of fun. Really it is!