As I write this post early this morning the first lambs, and a few pigs are on their way to the abattoir as we start to sell some of this year’s livestock ‘crops’.
We have taken the opportunity at the same time to wean the lambs – to take them away from their mothers – and give the ewes time to recover before the breeding season starts again for us in November. Next week we will sort through all the lambs again, send any more that are ready away to the abattoir, because like fresh seasonal plums lambs do not keep well once matured. The remaining 300+ will be given a dose of wormer and put onto fresh grazing and then weighed again in a fortnight..
The ewes will have 2 weeks to dry up their udders and then they will be carefully sorted through and any really old girls will be taken from the flock to spend a well earned retirement on some conservation grazing. Last year’s oldies will go away on their final journey soon but we have a customer looking for old bloodlines amongst our pedigree flock and he will come and pick some first.
The rest of the flock will be checked carefully for their condition: too fat or too thin [and their diet adjusted accordingly], their udders to see it is still in full working order [no good a ewe having 2 lambs and only one side of her udder working] and finally their mouths to see they still have a full set of working teeth [ no dentures here]. The whole flock will then be sorted and treated accordingly: extra grass, less grass or a red splash on the back of the head which is their one way ticket to join the ‘old girls’. A shepherd’s year starts in Autumn and once you understand the process I find the work has an enjoyable rythmn to it, well it would only be fair to say that I have worked with sheep for many, many years!!
The harvest is almost done, we are just waiting for the oats which were simply too green last week to cut. However we seem to have hit a sudden rainy patch so Jethro’s idea of going to the Great Dorset Steam Fair next weekend may not happen. It is absolute heaven to him to spend a day amongst the soot and the fumes watching others tinker with old machines. A few years ago he had the same idea as harvest seemed to be progressing well and guess what it rained then too. We only need 2 clear days when the oats are ready but I am not planning anything until it is all in the barn.