“This week has been sheepish.
Jura, our third Ryeland ewe, gave birth to a ewe lamb on Monday night. It’s our only ewe lamb, after the two tup lambs, so our plan is to retain her in our small flock. She has been named Lyra. She and mum seem to be doing fine and she’s very perky – more so than the boys, I think, but I may be biased.
I’ve been collecting poo samples from the sheep so that we can have worm egg counts done. We want to use the minimum of chemicals here, so rather than routinely worm, we have regular analysis done of the sheep’s poo to see what the worm burden is. If it gets too high, then we will worm. I also use a herbal wormer once a month. The land that they went on to in 2007 hadn’t had sheep on it for seven years and our ewes were wormed prior to us getting them, so the initial worm burden should have been low – the aim is to keep it that way.
We don’t have a lot of land and four ewes will be about our maximum. It also means we have to manage what grazing we have. It was stressing me a bit, but I now have a grazing plan that, if it works in practice, should allow each parcel of land to rest and recover for six months of the year.
I had to buy sheep tags for the first time this week. Our new lambs will need to be individually identified, with a tag in each ear. The legislative burden on farmers grows yearly.
Although we try to restrict chemical inputs, we have decided to routinely treat all our sheep against clostridial diseases, such as tetanus. So little Bud and Dickie got their first injection this week; a second will be administered in six weeks. It’s then an annual booster, if they are still around.
Next sheep tasks are applying the tags; registering the two lambs we are retaining and organizing shearing.
We’ve also been busy in the vegetable garden. All the beans that we started in the greenhouse – broad beans, runner beans and dwarf French beans – plus the peas, have been planted out. The cabbages and sweetcorn aren’t quite ready.
We have to net everything to prevent hen damage. We’ve constructed new covers with alkathene pipe supports that are much more robust that our previous efforts – but they are very blue. Our plan for winter is to construct a higher fence round the vegetable garden to exclude the hens during the growing season.”