A neighbour recently asked if I get bored just waiting for sheep to give birth but it is not like that as there is a lot of work to be done. When we arrive, providing there are no ewes in labour, we assist the Grazing Officer with tail docking, castrating, ear tagging, numbering up, worming etc. and either moving the older ones out to the fields or, if the weather is inclement, into the nursery pen. Then if the weather is good the pregnant ewes are let out into the adjoining field; the whole barn has to have fresh bedding put down; the ewes in the mothering up pens are given hay and fresh water; the round hay racks are replenished and troughs refilled. Then all the animals are given some sheep nuts. This is interspersed with hourly checks for signs of labour and other jobs follow such as checking all the lambs in the field are ok, disinfecting any hurdles that have got dirty, washing out water buckets, getting in more hay and straw. In the afternoon more fresh bedding is put down (this is very important to prevent infections), more hay, more fresh water etc. At the height of lambing it can be a busy day and very tiring but I really enjoy tending to the sheep and their lambs at this vulnerable time in their lives and love watching them bond and hearing the variety of intimate little sounds they give to each other..it is very special:)
Some of the sheep are quite friendly to us humans, some not so friendly but all tend to keep a certain distance...except that is, when there are sheep nuts in the offing, when suddenly we become very attractive. I was out in the field with a bucket of nuts feeding the pregnant ewes and was soon being bundled by a whole flock of over enthusiastic sheep. Unfortunately, one Jacob caught its horn behind my right knee, while at the same time as another caught me behind my left knee...and down I went...lol. It felt like I was drowning in sheep as the sky closed in above me to be replaced by woolly, gobbling, creatures happily standing on me, over me and around me furiously eating the nuts which I had managed to spill. There were so many sheep it was hard to even sit up let alone stand up (plus I was laughing a lot)! I would think it looked very funny but luckily no one was watching and it was not an experience I wanted to repeat. However that is just what I did the very next day and I am sure it was the same two Jacobs that ambushed me:)))
I think the picture below may be of one of the culprits as feeding became a lot less risky after she had given birth. She took a long time producing her first lamb which didn't look too good to begin with but with a bit of work he took his first breath and soon had his head up looking at his new world:)
...15 mins. later he was standing up looking for sustenance...obviously takes after his mother...that will serve her right for knocking me over twice:))
...40 minutes later and the twin brother arrived.
...and an hour after that they were all happily settling in to their cosy mothering up pen getting to know each other.
Along with our lambing duties we have also been helping out with the cows on occasions. In the past I have had a bit of a problem with cows as they always seemed to chase after me or at least moooo a lot, so much so, that friends and family won't walk through a field of cows with me:) Now, at least with the ones at the farm, I actually quite enjoy working with them...however... that was until Wellington, the bull, was added!! He is a good natured chap but his huge size makes him very scary and it has again made me apprehensive of entering their barn.
Knowing that one of the cows would need treatment for an eye infection I decided I would not arrive too early for my lambing shift in the hope that one of the other volunteers would have already assisted the Grazing Officer with the task. However I was out of luck.
Over the years I have found that if someone thinks you can do something, then usually you can, even if you're convinced you can't and the sense of satisfacion afterwards is well worth the discomfort, so when the Grazing Officer told me to go and stand right by Wellington in the barn, to make sure the cow with the poorly eye didn't duck past the door we were trying to get her through, I duly did as I was told (I must admit to mentally muttering a few 'bad' words though). It all went ok and Wellington didn't seem particularly interested in what we were doing but I was very relieved when the cow and ourselves were outside with Wellington shut inside...it seems my jinks on cows is lessening although my daughter still says she won't go anywhere near them if I am around:))))))))
Having got the cow through the door, we needed to get her into the crush (sounds horrible but its just a small, strong enclosure that safely holds the cow still for treatment). We gently chivvied her along from behind and for a bit of extra encouragement the Grazing Officer patted her rump. I held my breath expecting the cow to kick out (I had once given a friendly pat to a horse on its blind side which made it jump so much that it kicked me painfully to the other side of the stable!!) but this lovely cow just plodded calmly into the crush where her eye was treated. I am pleased to say that after several treatments her eye is now beginning to look a lot better so hopefully the sight will be saved which is really good especially as it is Curly (mentioned in a previous post) who is one of the prettiest cows I have known and one of my favourites.