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Lambing shed

lambing shed posts in

Last year’s lambing was hard.  We used an existing shed but it didn’t really go as planned.  We ended up having to lamb one ewe out in the fields and that meant a longish walk two or three times during the night for nearly two weeks (you can read about that here). Plus, the lambs were out of sight over the hill.

So, we had a think about it and decided to build lambing facilities in front of the house.  There’s a bit of an orchard there and it’s also where the chicken run is.  So, we drew up the plans.  It involves fencing on two sides.  One end already is fenced and the other has a dry stone dyke.  Plus, we need to fence the chicken houses and feeders off so they can get out but the sheep can’t get in.

lambing shed posts in
lambing shed posts started

It has turned out to be a long job.  This is mainly as other jobs suddenly surfaced and distracted me – pig pen extension, helping plumber with the new bathrooms, sorting out the new utility room.  And with winter approaching, all I had managed to get done was the hen area and one fence.

Luckily, my brother in law arranged a visit.  We told him to bring his drill!

all posts in
all posts in

The lambing shed is to nestle into a hillside so that it is tucked away out of sight.  This meant there was a bit of a drop, a metre in fact.  That seemed quite a lot, so I did some levelling.  When Matt got here, we got straight into putting the posts is.  This should have been a lot easier than it was.  However, the freezing temperatures meant the fast drying postcrete did not dry in seconds, but more like a couple of hours!  Nevertheless, we pressed on and got all the posts in.  It resembled a woodhenge!

We left them to settle and next day started on the walls.  We put up some of the walls to help stabilise things and then got to work on the roof.  We worked pretty much non-stop and by then of the day, we had all the roof beams in place and half the roof on.

Matt headed off home.  The news announced the imminent arrival of storm Caroline.  Great I thought, just what we need, high winds around a half finished shed.

But with Matt’s help, we’d broken the back of it.  I got the rest of the roof on and three walls up.  I left the fourth so I can dump some hard core in to make a better, and level, floor.  It survived the storm.

Now I am waiting for the ground to freeze this weekend so I can use the tractor to get the hardcore in.  Nearly job done.  And next year, lambing should be so much easier.  The ewes will have access to shelter, hay and fresh grass.  We’ll be able to watch them from our kitchen window.  And everything will be close to the house.

lambing shed nearly there
lambing shed nearly there
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Tupping Time

Wallace takes an interest

It’s two weeks to the winter solstice and the snow is falling gently outside as the afternoon draws towards night.  Storm Caroline is in the area but fortunately, the really high winds have passed us by.  It’s just a wee bit cold and blowy, so I thought I’d catch up with the blog.  It has been a few weeks!

Well, tupping time has been and gone.  We are targeting lambing for late April, so tupping was timed for mid November onwards.  Our two young tups (who we raised from lambs) remained blissfully unaware of the treat in store.  Over the year, they have matured and calmed down a bit.  This made raddling them easy, both their tummies splashed with bright yellow greasy paint.  It really helps to know when the lambs are due!

So one chilly but bright November Saturday morning, we began the process.  This was not just a case of throwing the two tups in with the ewes.  We had worked out the family trees and each tup was allocated 6 ewes.  All this year’s lambs plus one ewe with ring womb were to be kept apart.

So, first job, separating the ewes into three groups.  Nicole handled this and in next to no time we were ready for phase 2.  We moved the first group of six ewes into a small field.  Then, it was off to fetch Wart (these were his 6).  Nicole led him down with the halter.  Now, Wart and Wallace have never been apart so we had given Wallace some sheep nuts in the hope he wouldn’t notice Wart’s absence.

Wart smells the air
Wart smells the air

As we drew close to the six ewes, Wart caught their scents and was transformed from a reluctant foot dragging ball of wool to an eager beaver and was through the gate in a flash.  He couldn’t believe his luck and wasn’t sure which ewe to approach first.  The ewes were not that impressed to be honest and largely ignored him.  But, Wart was happy and we left him to it.

coming to meet Wallace
coming to meet Wallace

I nipped back up to Wallace’s field and Nicole went off to fetch the second group of six.  Wallace joined me in looking down the hill as they approached.  He remained remarkably calm, even as they came through the gate.  Of course, the first thing the ewes smelt was the sheep nuts and they were straight over to the trough.  This gave Wallace the chance to check them out, which he duly did.

After attempting to mount Peaches, who was not impressed, we noticed Vi and Vera had made a beeline for Wallace.  In fact, they stood either side of him making eyes and leaning into him.  If you can imagine a sheep flirting, well that’s what it looked like.  Wallace was happy.

We left them to it.  Wallace was indeed a busy boy and within 2 days 5 of his ewes had the tell tale yellow splodges on their rears.  In Wart’s field, a couple played hard to get so while most will be born in the first 3-4 days of lambing next year, there will likely be a two week window which we will have to monitor.

Of course, it’s never quite that simple.  A few days in, Nicole rushed back from the morning feed and check to announce that Wallace had taken his gate off and was in with Wart.  Well, we had to get him back because his mum and sister were in there!  Plus, Wart had access to his mother and grandmother.  So, we sorted them all out and reset the gate and tied it to it’s hinges.  And there’s me thinking only pigs could do that.

After around two weeks, the weather crashed and it became wet and cold.  So, we separated them back out so that they all had access to shelters.  Wallace and Wart were not that impressed at first and there was a bit of biffing.

But all is calm now, until April that is…