Both myself and Mrs D have worked non stop this weekend. A lot of our motivation is to get everything ready for our lambs which should start appearing around Friday. The sheep are already in the lambing shed, so that’s all done. This weekend was all about getting the outside areas ready for when we turn them out.
Following a recent robbery, we decided to put a hedge at the bottom of our field. As well as making it hard to get in (it’s all thorny bushes) this would have the added benefit of blocking the view of our field from the road. However, sheep are very partial to thorny bushes, so with the sheep indoors, now was the perfect time to plant the hedge and fence it off. It was only about 35m, but still a lot of plants (83 in total).
On top of that, there were 25 apple trees waiting to be planted. Being bare root, they had to go in soon. These trees were going in the orchard and as this is also used for grazing, had to be fitted with tree guards, Rather than buy hugely expensive ones, I fashioned some out of some galvanised wire mesh. Those jobs kept me occupied!
Mrs D had already cleaned up the field and was now working on securing the fence. Sadly, our neighbour has three rather aggressive border terriers. They truly are bad cases of “small dog syndrome”. The last thing we want is for them to take an interest in the lambs and try to get into the field. Which, truth be told, is quite possible, dogs being dogs. So Mrs D has been on her knees making sure any rabbit scrapings or gaps under the fence are well and truly blocked.
And in between, we found a small dunnock lying on the ground. So that was duly nursed back to health.
Still, nearly there, preparation for lambs is looking good.
As the ghastly winter rolls on towards spring, lambing time is fast approaching. Our first lambs are due on 4th of March (give or take). But the weather presented us with a dilemma.
Sheep like it outside. But they, like the rest of us, can get a bit tired of the wet, especially if it gets through their fleece and onto their skin. Generally, sheep are brought into the lambing shed about 2 weeks before the first lambs are due. But we were not sure whether to bring them in early due to the constant rain. If we brought them in too early, might they get bored?
Sheep are delicate creatures at the best of times, so any stress this close to lambing can be a bad thing. Sadly, our hand was forced when one of the ewes miscarried about 4 weeks before she was due. The vet suggested we could bring them in at nights until closer to lambing.
So, it was rubber gloves on, disinfectant solution prepared and the shed got a thorough clean. Once it had dried, we put down a thick bed of straw and set up the hay feeders. We brought them in early and they were ever so happy. Dry feet (the paddock was very wet and muddy in places), out of the wind and rain and a plentiful supply of food and water.
Then, a quick trip to the local Agricentre for a trough for their high protein pre lambing nuts and we were all set.
And now, they are happy as larry in their shed and getting lots of attention. Mind you, at nuts feeding time, it can turn into something of a scrum (see the picture!) as you try to spread the nuts into the trough. They like their sheep nuts!
And for us, it’s fingers crossed that things will go well from here.
The weather has been causing us all sorts of problems. Not flooding, thankfully, though it has been close. But the recent heavy rain has also turned everywhere to mud, flooded the drive and turned the garden into a marsh. We have had to resort to pumping water out into the drainage ditch and banning the hens from the lawn (as they were gleefully tearing into the soft ground and adding to the carnage). We grow weary of this wet, windy and dark winter – bring on spring!
And the poor sheep – their field is soaking. Thankfully, they have hard standing around the hay feeders. And they’ll be coming into the lambing shed next week so will be able to dry out.
And with lambing fast approaching, we have plenty to be doing without the weather adding to our woes. Nevertheless, one of the recent storms took down another apple tree in the orchard. Sadly, this one was the tree with the little owl box. This was the second tree with this owl box to be blown over, not a lucky box so far. Before we owned the field, little owls used the box regularly. But when we took ownership, it was just lying on the ground so I refurbished it and put it back up.
Anyway, with it once again blown over, we surveyed our trees to find a new home. If trees could speak, they’d probably be saying “not me”, fearful they may be number 3!
So, this time, we picked a huge tree with a massive trunk. The tree benefited from having some ivy removed. It was probably less impressed when I had to hammer in some nails “sorry”. But the little owl box is now back and ready, maybe even in time for this year. We shall watch and see.
I also took the opportunity to scurry up the ladder and secure the bat box which had been buffeted somewhat by the wind.