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The annual sheep shed muck-out

the shed – before –

Round about the beginning of May I started my annual “sheep shed muck-out”.   I needed to get it spick and span for shearing in June.  The sheep love their shed and spend a lot of time in it during the winter so it can get pretty mucky.  They would spend a lot of time in it during the summer too if they got half the chance.  Not fans of the hot sun, they seek out shady places, especially in the run-up to shearing when they’re still wearing their winter coats and everyone else is in tee-shirts.

As soon as the grass comes through at the end of April we shut off access to the shed and encourage the little darlings to break their “shed habit”.  They grumble for a bit and stand at the fence baa-ing, but after a few days they remember they have other shady places to lurk in such as their very own silvo-pasture.

With the sheep out of the way, I can roll my sleeves up and start mucking out.  I’m quite strict with myself and only do an hour a day to save my back.

making progress …

At first the job seems endless, but after a few days I can see how much progress I’ve made and it’s a great feeling.  The hens love it too, they help out, grubbing out little insects and having dust baths in the newly unearthed dusty layer beneath the clods of dung.

all ready for shearing!

This year it took me about three weeks to finish the shed.  I lost count of how many trailer loads of dung I lobbed onto the muck heap.  The best part was setting up the hurdles ready for shearing which I found hugely fun in a ‘re-arranging the furniture in a room’ kind of a way.  After many different hurdle arrangements which had to look right as well be practical, I eventually found a way to divide the shed into three areas.  Area 1:  multiple sheep waiting room, Area 2:  single sheep waiting room, Area 3:  shearing zone complete with board.

Now we just have to wait for shearing which is late this year because of the wet weather.  Its already July but we have the shearer booked in for Saturday so fingers crossed it stays dry.





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Elderly sheep on special diet – update

It’s been about six weeks since my last blog entry about the wonders of alfalfa and sugar-beet for elderly sheep.

This winter just gone, we’ve been keeping a special eye on three of our more elderly flock members; Sparkle and Scarlett and Shelby.  Sparkle and Scarlett are missing some front teeth, and Shelby has arthritis and can’t get around as easily as she used to.

winter at the hay bar

Winter can be tough, especially for older sheep who don’t have the reserves they once had.

sheep sheltering from snow storm
sheep sheltering from snow storm

We readily admit to spoiling our sheep a little bit, we give them access to their favourite shed to get out of the elements.  This is great for the sheep, but not so great for me as I have to muck it out every day.  But I digress, a happy sheep is a happy me.  As well as their shed, they also have ad-lib access to meadow hay and a cheeky sprinkling of ewe nuts every morning.  Despite this, as we came out of winter  this year Sparkle, Scarlett and Shelby were all looking a bit too thin for our liking.

Rocket is my middle name so I immediately researched nutritional supplements for elderly sheep with poor teeth and arthritis, preferably slow-release and non-molassed.  This is our first experience with keeping OAP sheep so it’s unchartered territory for us.

tucking into their buckets

While I found lots of information on nutritional supplements for elderly horses and ponies, I couldn’t find much at all about elderly sheep.  Several cups of tea later I at last found something which looked promising; pelleted meadow grass and pelleted alfalfa with sugar beet.

Sparkle on right looking tubbier

Fast forward a few weeks and the three ladies are doing marvellously on their special supplement.  We are so pleased, particularly with Sparkle as she had lost the most condition out of the three.  Now she looks almost back to her old rolly poly self.  We’re also very happy that the two ladies with missing incisors are still able to graze grass so this means the pelleted feed is still just a supplement rather than a main meal, at least for the moment.  Well done Sparkle, Scarlett and Shelby!







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Caring for our elderly sheep

A few years ago we made the decision to stop lambing.  Much as we loved having lambs skipping about each spring and doing zoomies around the paddock, we came to the realisation that it just wasn’t financially viable for us.  We do miss it from time to time though, lambing with all its highs and lows, it’s a profoundly magical time of year.  The miracle of witnessing life unfold, the heartbreak of having it slip through your fingers, it’s an experience you can never forget.

lambs up in the field
lambing days
Sparkle in her tubby days

Since we stopped breeding, the number of sheep we have has stayed pretty much the same.  The only thing that has changed is how old they are.  Some of our girls have reached the ripe old age of twelve which is good going considering the average lifespan of non-commercial sheep is between ten and twelve.  Our youngest are now five (which is old in commercial terms) and the rest are somewhere in between.

This winter we had three sheep on our radar, Sparkle, Scarlett and Shelby.  We were keeping an eye on them because they’d lost a bit of condition.  While it’s normal for sheep to come out of winter looking a bit slimmer than usual, these three were thinner than we liked, particularly Sparkle whose normal physique is erring on the tubby side of tubby.

Both Sparkle and Scarlett are missing some front teeth which would account for them losing a bit of weight.  Shelby still has her front teeth but has a touch of arthritis so she finds walking tricky sometimes which means she’s not grazing as much as she ought to be.

Sparkle now (on right)


special feed for our elderly sheep

Rather than wait for the spring grass to come through and see how they got along, I decided to fast track things a bit.  Actually, I was rather concerned about Sparkle as she only has one incisor left (thankfully she still has her molars), but even with lush spring grass coming through, she wouldn’t be able to get as good a nibble at it anymore.

So I did some research and found two products that looked just the ticket; Dengie’s Pure Grass pellets, and Dengie’s Alfa-Beet pellets.

Both the alfa-beet and the grass come in concentrated (pellet) form which you have to soak before use.  The advantage which comes with the soaking means that sheep with wobbly teeth should find it easier to eat.

making up the buckets

I couldn’t wait to get started.  Once I’d whizzed into town to buy what I needed, I hefted the sacks into the kitchen, got three buckets, some scales and a handful of carrots.  I carefully measured out 20g of the grass pellets and 20g of the alpha-beet into each bucket.  I deliberately went with a very small amount knowing sheep have delicate digestive systems.  My plan was to start small and build it up. I then added 10g of ewe-nuts into the mix and a handful of grated carrot.  Lastly, I added 200g water.   Happy with my concoctions I left the buckets to soak and got on with some overdue housework.  Three hours later, I grabbed my coat, the dogs and the buckets and set off in search of the sheep.

On locating the woolly gang, I called the three ladies into a pen and set my buckets down in front of them.  I couldn’t wait to enjoy that moment – the sound of sheep enthusiastically scoffing.  Sadly the moment never came, they sniffed the buckets with great suspicion, kicked them over for good measure and then looked at me with beseeching ‘feed me’ faces.

I tried hand feeding them but they weren’t having it.  Hmm I thought, what to do?

Shelby tucking in

I trudged back to the house and had a cup of tea.  I pondered things for a while and decided it would probably be best to contact Dengie’s for advice.  I sent them an email explaining my predicament and to my delight a reply came back the very next day.  They suggested making the mixture a teeny bit dryer, more ‘wet-crumbly’ than ‘wet-sloppy’.  They also suggested adding ewe-nuts which I’d already done, but this time I added a few more.  I experimented a bit and came up with what looked to be a good consistency.  20g of alfa-beet, 20g of grass pellets, 20g ewe nuts and 160g water.  Three hours later, off I went again with my buckets.  This time to my delight, they stuck their heads straight in and scoffed for all they were worth!

“please can I have some more?”

This is our first experience with caring for elderly sheep so we’ll be learning as we go along.  Fingers crossed with their nutrient-packed supplements all three will blossom and put on weight over the coming weeks.  For Sparkle who has only one front teeth left, the pellets will be a lifelong addition to her diet as she will struggle to get adequate grass.


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Breakfast for the sheep

As well as the ‘daily hay ceremony‘ which I wrote about a couple of months ago, I thought I would write a few words about another little ceremony which the sheep really enjoy; the daily ‘nut ceremony’.

Sheep go absolutely bonkers for their nuts.  I should add, these are not actual nuts, ‘sheep nuts’ are rolled pellets containing a variety of grains and legumes.

sheep heading towards the gate

Like the hay, we only do the ‘nut ceremony’ during the winter when the sheep appreciate a little extra nutrition.

First thing every morning I scoop a carefully measured amount into a bucket, then, bucket in one hand, dog leads in the other I call the the dogs and off we go.

first at the trough – Clippy the hen

Our sheep are really good at telling the time.  They come down to the paddock exactly half an hour before I make an appearance and stand in a group looking towards the house.

Then they watch me walking along the fence round the outside of the paddock before moving as one unit to the gate which stands between them and the troughs soon to be filled with ‘nuts’.

I used to fill the troughs while the sheep milled around me but this proved slightly hazardous and required my wits about me, not a great situation to be in before I’ve had my breakfast.  Sheep can be quite adept at rugby and thought nothing of tackling me to the ground if it meant they could stick their head in a bucket.

waiting at the gate
yum yum!

These days I put the troughs in a separate part of the paddock and close the gate before the sheep come down so they can’t get up to tricks.  This makes life much easier and is also very amusing to watch when I open the gate and the sheep bundle through closely followed by Elliot who likes to join in the scrum.




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Belinda Bibble-Bott and her Egg Yolk Peritonitis

the Orpingtons as chicks

Belinda Bibble-Bott (Belinda for short) is one of our big, friendly Orpington hens who came to us as eggs back in the spring of 2022.  We’ve seen Belinda and her siblings grow from tiny chicks the size of daisies into enormous hens almost twice the size and weight of our resident flock.

Last spring the Orpingtons started to lay their first eggs.  This was a cause for celebration for us!  The main reason we wanted to bring younger hens into the flock was because our resident ladies (bless their feathers, being on the elderly side) had all but stopped laying.

the chicks growing up

At first it took a while for the Orpingtons to work out what the nest boxes were for and quite often we would come across an egg lying in the grass.  They also went through a phase of only wanting to lay in one particular nest box.  This caused a few scuffles, kerfuffles and broken eggs.  But gradually the new girls got the idea, egg production went up and we were able to bake cakes and make omelettes again, hoorah!

But, as is often the way in life, after an up there is a down.  One morning in late April as I was scattering corn for the girls, I noticed Belinda’s walk looked ever so slightly off.  There was the merest hint of a waddle about her, barely noticeable and could have been easy to dismiss because hens waddle at the best of times.  But you learn to be a detective when you run a smallholding, monitoring the behaviour of animals on a daily basis, looking out for things that might be amiss.  I didn’t have a good feeling about Belinda and my gut was saying ‘Egg Yolk Peritonitis’ (internal laying).  I hoped I was wrong but I had a sinking feeling as I picked her up and checked her over.  However, she didn’t have the swelling that hens get with EYP and there was no heat which would have indicated infection, but something still felt off.

I had a think and decided to take her indoors and sit her in a bucket of warm water on the off chance that she was egg-bound.  Sometimes first time layers can lay very large eggs which can get stuck and cause discomfort.  I handled her carefully as if there was an egg stuck inside her, I didn’t want to break it as this would be fatal.  After sitting her ever so gently in a bucket of warm water for 15 mins, I gave her a blow dry and popped her in a darkened cardboard box with plenty of cosy bedding.  I had a cup of tea and half an hour or so went by when suddenly I heard a loud ‘post egg cluck’ coming from the cardboard box, Belinda had laid an egg!

My happiness was short lived however.  The following day Belinda’s walk was still off.  After some thought I decided to go to the vets and get some antibiotics to cover all bases.  If she did have EYP there was a chance it could be halted in its tracks if the infection was caught early enough.  However it was a slim chance and would only work if the internal laying was a one off.

Belinda sitting on a rock

Off to the vets I whizzed and came back armed with needles and antibiotic.  So as not to cause Belinda any discomfort we decided to treat her at night.  Hens have a funny way of giving you the eye when you administer injections so I hunted out the little ‘hen hood’ we keep for moments like this.  At dusk, we scooped her out of the hen house, placed the hood over her head and popped the needle in.

During that week we gave Belinda her course of antibiotics and kept our fingers crossed.  We closely monitored her laying, (a) to see if she was laying eggs on a daily basis which would be a good sign, and (b) to discard any of her eggs because they would contain traces of antibiotic.  It broke my heart to throw away her precious eggs but thankfully it would only be for a short period of time.

Sadly Belinda didn’t respond to the antibiotics and over the following weeks her abdomen started to show the tell-tale signs of EYP, it became red and swollen.  At this point we made the decision to step back and not give her more antibiotics or go down the hormonal implant route which some vets recommend.  Rather we would keep her comfortable and let her live out her life with the other hens without invasive medical procedures.

Belinda at the hair dresser’s

Belinda surprised us all, she lived through the summer and is still going strong.  She’s a spirited lady and despite her condition, is by far not the lowest hen in the pecking order.  Usually the smallest or weakest hens get bullied by the hens further up the pecking order, but not Belinda.

During the winter when the hens stopped laying, Belinda’s condition improved slightly but sadly didn’t clear up.  Her swelling went down but she still waddled and maintained her ‘penguin stance’.  This upright posture has an unfortunate side affect.  Orpingtons have extremely long, fluffy feathers and as we came into winter we noticed Belinda’s feathery ‘skirt’ was dragging on the ground and getting wet in all the puddles.  So to keep her comfortable and prevent her from catching a chill we decided to give her a wee hair cut.

just stepped out of the salon

We brought her into the kitchen and made her comfy on Adrian’s lap while I got to work with the scissors.  Belinda relaxed right into the salon experience.  So much so that as I worked on her tail feathers she couldn’t help herself and did some reciprocal grooming on Adrian’s arm.

As we come into spring and the hens come into lay again we’ll continue to keep an eye on Belinda, keep her feathers trim and do as much as we can to keep her comfortable.




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The daily hay ceremony


From the end of October through to the beginning of April (give or take), we move the little darlings onto hay.  During the winter, the grass pretty much stops growing and what grass there is isn’t very tasty or nutritious.  While many sheep are thrifty and do fine in the leaner winter months, ours are a lowland breed and appreciate their creature comforts.  We also have several elderly ladies in our flock who need a little extra tlc.

the much loved shelter

As well as providing the teddies with daily hay, over the years of keeping sheep we’ve come to realise what our woolly friends really appreciate is having somewhere to get out of the elements, whether that’s the scorching sun in the summer, or the driving rain in the winter.  So we give them access to the lambing shed which they love.  To be honest, they are rather too fond of it at times and can make a real mess if they set up camp for too long.  While we like them to have access to their shelter, we don’t want them to spend all day in there.  So we’ve found if we fill up their hay feeders (which are next to the shelter) in the evenings rather than the mornings, this encourages them to go up the hill and forage during the day and only come down to the paddock in the evenings for the daily hay ceremony.

Seline leading the flock down

The daily hay ceremony is basically me bringing the little darlings hay every evening.  Usually the gang are still up on the hill somewhere, but it’s not long before they make an appearance led by Seline the flock leader.  They have an uncanny knack of knowing what time to come down for their tea.

I really enjoy the hay ceremony, mostly because I love the smell of hay.  Good quality meadow hay can be hard to come by and our little darlings are particularly fond of soft hay without tough stalks.  During the first few years here on our smallholding we struggled to find good meadow hay.  Our first year here we made our own but didn’t have enough to last all winter and ended up scrabbling around.

Our second year here we decided to buy in hay.  Unfortunately that turned out to be a bad decision as it was the year of the ‘beast from the east’.  That winter went on and on and on … there was hardly any hay to be had and we ended up buying in posh, dainty bags of haylage from the local agricultural store.  Our winter feed budget took a big hit that year.

tea time

So our third winter here we couldn’t believe our luck when we discovered that our Highland Cattle friends from up the road, Jim and Fiona, (  had started supplying hay!  We feel very fortunate about this, it’s taken a big worry off our shoulders.

the hay-mobile

Every four weeks, Fiona comes by in her ‘hay-mobile’ with a delivery of hay.  Whilst tipping bales off the truck we have a good old catch up.  As smallholders on somewhat remote farms it’s good to chat to a likeminded soul and compare notes about this and that.  I always look forward to Fiona’s visits and I’m sure our sheep do as well!
















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Planting apple trees


Back in the summer we decided it would be nice to plant some more apple trees.  Over the last few years we’ve been gradually expanding our orchard.  There were already about ten apple trees here when we moved here six years ago.  Last winter we added some more, and this year we ordered another ten.  We’ll have about thirty apple trees eventually which is great because  Adrian and I love apples. and Adrian makes a very tasty cider!

At the beginning of November the new trees arrived through the post.  Being bare rooted we heeled them into the veggie patch as a temporary home.

marking out where the trees will go

Fast forward a few weeks and this week was the grand tree planting ceremony.  A wet week was forecast, perfect weather for planting!  First we marked out where the trees would go.  We carefully positioned ten bamboo canes, taking our time to make sure they were neatly spaced and looked just right.  Elliot helped out by following us round and repositioning several canes.  After a cup of tea we had to start all over again, this time with the dogs at a safe distance.

Next, Adrian got to work with the tree guards which entailed banging in 40 stobs with his fence post knocker-inner.  It was a hard slog getting them in and we now have a large collection of rocks of all shapes and sizes for dry stone wall repairs.

The following day Adrian dug ten large holes for each of the trees.  Now we have even more spare rocks for wall repairs.  Then it was over to me, I filled my wheelbarrow with several bags of compost, a tub of fertiliser and of course the apple trees.  Thankfully they were all alive and well, the roots looked healthy and there were plenty of worms nestled in the root-balls.

putting stobs in


digging holes

Three days later and all ten trees are in their new homes, hoorah!  All we have left to do is attach some lengths of stock fence and railings to the posts to keep them safe from the sheep.

As a side note, we have a Himalayan Cedar in a corner of the orchard which the sheep took a great liking too a couple of years ago.  (You can see it in the photo on the left).  They’d taken several inches of bark all the way round and we thought the poor tree was doomed.  In desperation we attached several bridge grafts all the way round and taped moss over the damaged trunk.  Two years later and the tree has not only survived but has put on growth and is looking healthy.  Even more surprising, none of the bridge grafts are alive so we are not sure how this is possible.  The only thing we can think of is that we decided to leave the ‘mossy bandage’ in place (originally we were going to remove it after a few months), perhaps this is helping transport sap up the trunk?

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Cud transfaunation for Witchy

trimming Witchy’s bottom wool

You can tell a lot about the health of an animal by what comes out the back end.  One of our woolly teddy bears, Witchy, has always produced dung more on the squishy side.  It sticks to the wool around her tail and is a magnet for flies.  During the summer we give her bottom plenty of haircuts to keep her feeling clean and fresh and prevent flystrike.

From what we’ve observed as smallholders, if young animals don’t get a good start in life, health problems will pop up down the line.  We’re certain that Witchy’s bottom problems are down to an imbalance of gut bacteria due to a period of stress she suffered as a lamb, (click here to read Witchy’s story).  We made a lot of mistakes when we started out ten years ago and unfortunately Witchy’s wobbly first couple of days was down to our inexperience as novice smallholders.


Fast forward to now and Witchy is a fully grown sheep and seven years young.  She’s the sweetest thing and we feel very lucky to have her in our flock.  She seems happy and content, but her digestive issues have always been a background worry.

Over the years we’ve tried her on probiotics and kaolin powder, but nothing has helped.  Witchy’s bottom has just carried on doing its thing and we’ve carried on trimming her and keeping her clean.

Now that she is getting older, we’ve noticed she doesn’t do as well in the winter.  Last year she lost condition and her lower eyelids were a bit pale suggesting a nutrient absorption issue.

This year, as winter approaches I thought I would try something different.  I had recently read about something called ‘cud transfaunation’, an old shepherding technique to help ruminants with digestive problems.  Just like us, sheep need a healthy gut microbiome in order to work properly.  Cud transfaunation basically means to take the cud and accompanying microbes from the mouth of a healthy sheep and pop it into the mouth of the sheep needing help.  (Obviously making sure it is swallowed).

Yaar and WItchy

I was pretty excited to do this I can tell you!  On Monday I brought Witchy into a pen along with Yaar and Yogi (the two doners).  My plan was to  swill the doners’ mouths out with warm water using a large syringe, capture the swill (and hopefully lots of microbes) in a bucket and then transfer it over to Witchy.  The reason I decided to have two doners was purely to increase my chances of capturing microbes.


From what I’ve read you can do either the ‘swill method’, or the ‘cud grabbing method’.  If you manage to grab a nice handful of cud there’s probably more chance of capturing lots of microbes however scooping out cud comes with risk of losing a  finger so I decided to go with plan A.  If plan A doesn’t work, then I’ll enlist the help of Adrian and try getting hold of some cud.  You put the cud in a bucket with a little warm water, break it up with a fork so it resembles sloppy soup and then give it to the sheep before it cools down.

The most important thing I had to remember was to make sure everything was sterile, and to keep the swilled out water at sheep temperature so the microbes didn’t die off before I got them into Witchy.

my equipment

I lined up my equipment on a nearby wall so I had everything within reach.  I had with me:  a thermos flask filled with sheep-temperature water (38.3 – 39.9’c) to do the mouth swilling, a sterile bucket to capture the swill and a large syringe to draw up the swill from the bucket and transfer into Witchy’s mouth.

I didn’t get much swill but hopefully enough.  It looked slightly green and had a bit of a slimy look to it.  I’m hoping it contained plenty of bacteria.  Giving it to Witchy was easy, I popped it into her mouth using a large syringe and she swallowed it straight away, phew!

swill on its way to Witchy’s mouth

The trickiest part was to make sure I kept Yaar and Yogi’s heads down as I swilled their mouths out to stop them from swallowing the warm water.  It was also quite hard keeping the bucket under their chins whilst I was doing this.  They were very keen to stick their noses in the bucket, they love buckets, especially green calf buckets.

Hopefully I captured enough microbes and they’re setting up home in Witchy’s gut and she’ll have an easier winter.  However the proof will be in the poop … I will keep you updated with how she goes.



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Shovelling sheep manure

before the big clean up

Every so often it’s time to do some dung shifting here on the smallholding.  Despite having a relatively small flock of 19, our woolly lawn mowers produce an impressive amount of manure.

sheep at hay feeders
eating hay during the winter

During the winter when the grass isn’t very tasty, the teddy bears spend a lot of time in the paddock where we have a couple of hay feeders set up.  Here is where the action happens, our woolly friends get busy converting hay into dung from November through to April.


The amount of dung around the feeders quickly builds up, so every autumn we roll back our sleeves and get to work removing the dung carpet.  This is hefty work and often involves getting on our hands and knees and peeling it up from the ground.  Embedded in the dung are layers of hay which hold things together to form a sort of cake.  It’s very satisfying work peeling back large clods.  Sometimes we get a big one that is too heavy to lift.  We heft the clods into the trailer and then tow it to the muck heap where we shovel it out.  Then back we go to the paddock for more.

taking the dung away
after the clean up

After a week or so of peeling, shovelling and dumping, our dung heap is vastly bigger and the ground around the hay feeders looks lovely again; back to its original state, a good deal lower and much less squelchy.

During the winter we’ll use this dung to mulch our veggie patch.  I dropped some off at our neighbours for their flowerbeds and Adrian left me a big present for the polytunnel.  All in all, a good week’s work!


a present from hubs




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Flystrike prevention

Yssi coming over

This summer’s been a bit funny weatherwise, after a hot and dry May and June (so dry that we ran out of water at one point), the heavens opened and it’s been dreich ever since.  One thing is certain though, rain or shine there are always plenty of flies buzzing around.

This part of Galloway is mostly grazed by livestock and there’s very little crop spraying going on.  As a result the insects are thriving and the swallows who come here to nest every summer have plenty to feed on.  So a healthy population of flies isn’t a bad thing.  However, having sheep, we do have to be on the lookout for flystrike.

Elliot helping me set up

Flystrike is a potentially fatal condition which can occur when a female blowfly (green bottle) decides to lay her eggs on a sheep.  The eggs result in maggots which on hatching, wriggle around and start to feed on the sheep. Death occurs within a few days unless the condition is spotted.  The blowfly is usually attracted to soiled areas around the bottom, but she’s not particularly fussy and often lays her eggs between the shoulder blades or in any convenient nook or cranny.

Most sheep are protected from blowfly attacks through the use of sprays which work as a deterrent.  Our little flock however is organic so this means we don’t spray them, instead we bring them in to check regularly and are always on the lookout for ‘the signs’.  ‘The signs’ meaning how the sheep behaves when she’s been struck by a blowfly.  These start off very subtle and can be easily missed, it’s usually a slight change in demeanour, a look in the eye, an odd sitting position.  It then progresses as the irritation builds and the sheep will try to scratch the affected area.  She’ll not usually be able to reach and this will cause her distress.  As the days pass she’ll show signs of depression, hang her head, stand in a corner, lie down and eventually give up.

Yssi haltered up

We’re continually on the lookout for the signs, and three of our little lot are particularly prone so they get more checks than usual.  Today the three musketeers were due their fortnightly check ups.

I set off after breakfast with my bucket containing: shears, maggot oil, cotton wool pads, Protego powder spray, nitrile gloves, halter and sheep nuts.  The dogs came with me as they like to hang around with the flock whilst clicking into guard mode.  George and Elliot are both Sheep Guardian dogs, George is a Hellenic Shepherd and Elliot is a Turkish Anatolian and they love nothing better than to mooch around with the flock whilst keeping a watchful eye out for bears and wolves, (the Scottish equivalent of).

I found the sheep half way up a hill so  I parked up and set up ‘camp’.  I dragged some hurdles over and built my treatment pen, I laid out my equipment on the back of the quadbike.  Then off I went to get my first sheep.

Something I’ve learned to do since having sheep is teach them their names and have them come over to me when called, individually.  This isn’t just a fancy party trick, it means I can do sheep work quickly and with minimum running around.  Unfortunately this convenient little trick is only possible when I’m on my own with the gang with no one else is present, especially not the vet.

damp wool below tail needing a trim

So I brought in Ynca, then Yssi, then Yogi.  All three have a funny condition on their bottoms where the wool stays damp in the area just below the tail.  This can cause little patches of bacteria to form under the wool which unless I trim regularly, can lead to small infections occurring.  This can then create puss, which would be a magnet to the blowfly so it’s important to keep them clean and trimmed.

Yogi inspecting my equipment bucket

Ynca, Yssi and Yogi are very tame, but they draw the line at having their bottoms trimmed so I halter them up and tether them so they can’t run around.  I then straddle them so I’m looking down at their bottoms, and off I go with my trimming shears.  Once I’ve trimmed the wool down to a ‘number 1’, I spray it with a powder spray which dries everything out and smells lovely too.  (Protego powder spray is totally brilliant!)

After and hour or so, I finished bottom trimming and was ready for a cup of tea, scones, clotted cream and strawberry jam.  The three girls went back to join their pals while I whizzed down the hill followed by the dogs.  Adrian was conveniently between meetings at work and had already put the kettle on ready for a welcome brew.

Yogi with trimmed bottom and powder spray