With the threat of Schmallenberg lifted, we have been able to enjoy this last week of lambing. There have been the usual ups and downs,
joys and tragedies, but these are inevitable with livestock and part of the richness of farming life.
Two of the ewes have been bad girls and for their sins are incarcerated in lambing stocks.
Both have been serial child abusers, one with her own lambs, which is most unusual, and the other, failing to accept a triplet that we wanted to put onto her when her own single lamb died. Occasionally when a ewe starts battering a lamb about it can be put down to a case of mistaken identify.
Perhaps two ewes have lambed next to each other in the night and wrongly attributed to the wrong ewes.
No mistake here though. John lambed this pair and then put them into a pen to complete the mothering up.
Within hours the ewe was batting the lambs away when they tried to come near her to feed. Now she is in the stocks and the lambs are feeding well. For the last day or two John has let her out to see if she has taken to the lambs, and immediately she bats them away again.
“I can stand it longer than she can,” John says. We have had this before and in time, the ewes accept their fate.
A success story has been a ewe with a stillborn lamb taking a triplet that was just not getting enough milk from it’s own dam. It’s bigger siblings constantly pushing the smaller lamb out.
John skinned the dead lamb and fitted the triplet out in a snugly fitting, custom made, lambskin coat.
The ewe, who had been allowed to lick the dead lamb for an hour or so, took to the imposter without question.
This particular ewe had been down a day or two previously with calcium deficiency, but whether that caused her lamb to be stillborn, we just do not know.
Out in the field, the mothered up lambs and ewes require supplements because the grass has just not started to grow. It is too cold.
Carrion crows have also been a nuisance. Not so much to the bigger lambs, but when ewes have lambed outside during the day, the crows need scaring off pretty rapidly otherwise they will go for the lamb’s eyes before the lambs and dam are brought back into the lambing shed.
The drier conditions are also giving hope to getting a crop of spring barley sown.
Although still sticky, a forty acre field John left ploughed out for barley is breaking down well and John is confident that he can have it drilled up by the end of the week.
With the bull looking fitter than over and apparently satisfying the various lustful demands of his harem, the peregrines scaring the pigeons off the rape and lambing going well, it might just be that rare occasion in the farming cycle when things are looking good.
Disaster is sure to follow soon.
Mrs Downs Diary