Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Sadie and Sylvia

I made sure to come home at lunchtime Monday because we still had three ewes to give birth. I found Nellie with two healthy white babies under the ash trees in the North Paddock (west).

It was cold and windy, so mum and babies were easily moved inside using the tried and tested, "if I pick them up, mum will follow" technique. Actually, I saw a variation on this theme on telly last night, on my BBC farm show "Countryfile, where a farmer in Sussex would put the lambs in a shopping cart to move them around the farm, and of course, mum would follow.

These two are to be Sadie and Sylvia, according to her Aimeeness.

Molly's two were ready to go outdoors on Monday morning, but our older retired ewe Jewel decided she was jealous of Molly's lambs and started beating seven shades of s**t out of poor Molly.

Jewel would ram her Moll and again, and then back up ten fifteen feet to do it again, on the head, in the side, where ever she could land a blow, bruising her for sure, and threatening to hurt her badly. I had to put a stop to this after Tillie, apparently another old grouch, also joined in the bullying spree, and put Molly and so mum and lambs went back to the safety of the lambing pen for another day.

Then on Tuesday with both Molly and Nellie's bairns now ready for some fresh air, I tried it again, to no avail, Jewel still being a total snot-head and beating up on poor Molly.

So Jewel is slated now to go to the butchers at the first opportunity. She has a partial reprieve, because our butcher's shop burned down a few weeks ago, and they don't plan to be up and running until May 1st.

I put Jewel in a different paddock with Tillie, and so let all four lambs and both mums have access to the fresh air, unmolested by mean old ewes.

Lambs need to be outdoors where they can run and jump and play and test out their legs.

Grouchy old ewes, well, there's no place for them on our farm.

Aimee has always said that I would never butcher Tillie, who has always been the head ewe, and is very personable and lets you pet her, but we'll have to see now whether or not Tillie will mind her manners after a few weeks in sheep-jail with Jewel.

If she won't be good, she'll have to go too,

This sounds cruel, pronouncing a death sentence on these two just because of some grouchyness and bullying, but it's the reality of farming. Both are quite old at this point. We don't know for sure how old because they weren't born on the farm, but they are both at least eight and Tillie is probably more than a decade old. At this point, if they're not butchered, they'll get one or another of the dread diseases of sheep and die a much worse death. Jewel has already had Listeriosis and almost died of it.

If they go to the butchers, they get an easier death and we get the meat, a lot of it. Enough ground lamb and stewing meat to keep me in shepherds pie and lamb vindaloo for a year, or two.

They are also adding to the costs of keeping the herd, and haven't been used for breeding for several years. We generally like to keep one or two older retired ewes around because their experience and level headedness is helpful to have around, especially in the summer foraging season, but grumpy old so-and-sos are no help to man nor beast.

As for Molly, she's still scared and won't go out of the barn with her lambs. She'll have to eventually, because outside is where the hay is, but for now she thinks Jewel might still be out there somewhere and is playing it safe.

That's no life for a new mum.

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