Sunday, 8 March 2015

Little Bo Peep and Education about Sheep!

As I walked down the track with the dogs yesterday I rounded the corner and noticed three sheep ahead.Having lived in the country for about ten years now I've become proud of my shepherding skills and my ability to identify which sheep belongs to which farmer.In this case it was the shaggy curly haired sheep that gave them away.It was Blossom, a rare breed sheep that lives with one of my neighbours and which could only really be described as a pet.

On further inspection I discovered that there were in fact , five sheep, closely followed by my neighbour, her husband, daughter and pet labradoodle. They were , explained my neighbour matter of factly, going for a walk as she had run out of hay and was taking the sheep along the track so they could graze on the grass verges.

As the dogs and I looked on, the motley crew ambled past, taking no more than a cursory glance at the dogs as they strained on their leads to get a better look. You see some very strange sights in the country!

It's been a funny sheep week generally.These sheep  followed my friend and I through a field last week and one even came for a pat! I think they must have thought we must have looked like  dinner ladies!

Then yesterday there was a knock on the door. Our neighbouring farmer sent a message to say that one of his ewes was lambing if
 we wanted to run down to the farm.We were lucky. It was late on a sunny afternoon rather than a cold wet night in the lambing shed!

The ewe (a mule) which is a cross between a texel and a fell sheep for hardiness (they require strong teeth to graze the sea washed turf on the estuary) was lying in the field.Her waters had broken and Paul told us that it was often quite quick although one sheep had take forty minutes the previous day. The field was full of sheep having triplets. The mule would strain and lift her head upwards, then would get up and wander around eating grass.

This went on for quite some time and after about half an hour she seemed to be starting to tire. After 45 minutes, we novices were quite concerned, she didn't look well at all but then neither would we if we were giving birth to three babies. Paul came out and said it was taking longer than it should and decided to intervene.He invited us to watch as he put his hand into the Ewe's uterus and pulled out one very yellow lamb.The second to come out was lodged in a difficult position and wasn't breathing so Paul shook it and cleaned the mucus from its nose with straw.It was very small and weak and didn't look fit and healthy like its brother.Paul said only time would tell.He would leave it in the field for half an hour then bring it into the barn under a heat light over night.The final lamb popped out fit and healthy and, within minutes ,mum was licking both healthy lambs and they were up on their feet feeding from her colostrum. 

The weaker lamb was still on its side and hadn't tried to stand.Sadly we learned the next day that it hadn't made it.Perhaps nature knew it would have struggled to survive. Nature can be cruel sometimes.

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