Sunday, 22 July 2012

Sunday Drama at Little Chump

I was just poised over the computer ready to do a post when the phone went.  Overnight a car had demolished a section of stock fencing at Little Chump, the field that holds the Downland Project's 76 ewes and lambs.  Our trainee, who was stock checking at the farm, kept the sheep in the field and luckily there was a group pulling ragwort in another part of the farm who were able to get over and help put the sheep in another field.  The car, a Mercedes, had apparently crashed at around 2.30 am!  It must have been a bad crash as it demolished a double line of fencing including several heavy straining posts but all that was left in the morning was debris and a number plate.  How the car had been removed we have no idea.  I am just pleased the sheep hadn't strayed through the large gap that was left.

We are half way through our time filling in for the absent grazing officer and assistant.  It has so far been made difficult by the weather but today the sun is shining and the forecast is for a dry week:))))

Last week we gave the boys (sheep that is) a health check, trimming their hooves, checking their teeth etc.  All were in very good condition except for our teaser (he does as his name suggests, teases the ewes with his good looks, personality and a few hormones to get them in the mood before the ram is put in)  Unfortunately he has been showing signs of bloat ever since we brought back to the farm for shearing. His stomach is very distended but strangely he is still eating, ruminating and going to the toilet as normal and didn't show any signs of discomfort when he was sheared.  The vet confirmed it looked like bloat from the photo but as there were no other symptoms just to monitor him. I am very worried about him as he has now been like it for over a week, however, today I think he looks just a little less fat, so fingers crossed he will soon be back to normal as he is rather an important chap.

We have had quite a few other problems especially with lameness but I think the wet weather has had a lot to do with it so hopefully, if things dry up, it will all improve.  We have also had a lamb with fly strike on its back, a ewe with an abscess on its neck and a lamb with what looked like Shelly hoof where the wall of its hooves were separating from the underlying tissue.  Unfortunately a stone had gone up one of the hooves and when removed it bled like mad.  These things all came to light on the same day after we had finished the boy's health checks so it was very late when we got home and I was filthy covered in sheep poo, puss, blood and maggots..for once I didn't feel like eating:)

I am finding it all quite stressful and spend half the nights awake worrying or looking things up on the computer.  Luckily my husband is his usual calm self and very tolerant of me especially when we are towing a trailer load of sheep where I become a very bossy back seat driver, even telling him (an ex-fireman who drove fire engines) when to change gear! I feel awful but can't seem to stop myself.  I am not usually like this and even when I was with the old grazing officer, who was driving quite fast down some narrow lanes because we were running out of daylight, I managed to keep my mouth closed, although, I did have my eyes closed too...perhaps I that is what I should try when my husband is driving:)

Suddenly I am finding that I am quite envious of the volunteers going off to do tasks like ragworting and when we cleared the barn of all the bedding from where the sheep had been housed prior to shearing (to keep them dry), it quite went to my head and I enjoyed every moment of it (I had had rather a lot of caffeine though, which might have helped:)

I always thought I had quite a wildlife friendly garden but since it has been so neglected this year it continues to surprise me with even more wildlife than usual.  Without the demarcation of the cut lawn several common lizards have found their way in to be discovered under discarded weed collecting bags left from last year, a Blackcap has been visiting the Hogweeds which have an abundance of mating cardinal beetles on them and some of my favourites... a Green Woodpecker has been a regular visitor, searching out bugs from the lawn..

A beautiful Comma butterfly has been visiting the Lavender..

And a good variety of dragonflies and damselflies have been visiting the ponds..

I really must make sure that I somehow retain this level of wildlife in the garden next year.


Orchids and Nature said...

Your blog is full of interesting topics and I enjoy following you and your volunteer work on the Downs, infact two of our friends John & Lindy Sewell live in Sutton South London, they know of you because John is also a volunteer warden on part of the South Downs but I don't know the location.

Helen said...

Sutton is very close to the farm where we do the lambing and shearing and where the car crashed into the fence of the lambs field. I wonder if your friends have ever visited on Open Farm Sunday:)