Well, this week the first of the cattle came in for the winter, and the very last of the rams went out with the ewes but not before one of our best rams died suddenly as he waited in the shed.
As an older member of the team the anticipation must have been too much, or at least that is the reason we prefer most to believe. His place out with a particular batch of ewes was immediately taken by another home bred ram, and finally the rush of shepherding work at this time of the year is over and Jethro can settle back into a quieter routine.
Next to come in will be the calves, born this year. Those that were born in the spring and are old enough will be separated from their mothers and housed, the youngest calves will come in to another shed but their mothers will come in too, and one of the bulls. The main herd of spring calving cows will remain outside on the drier chalk grassland.
Poor Ruby has slipped her calf, it was due to be born around the end of January, and was completely formed, a bull calf but without all his hair. The legs and the head were the same colour as Ruby, but the rest was still bald. It was a very sad sight when the vet pulled it out, and she was so very keen to mother this stillborn bundle of a calf.
It means no milking for us until she calves again, perhaps in the autumn next year. The vet says that around 1% of cattle sponatneously abort, there does not have to be a reason. I think in 5 years we have only had 3 slipped calves so we must be under the average but still it is hard particularly as Ruby is the family’s only cow whereas the rest belong to the farm business. It is not quite the same. Unusually for farmers we do admit that Ruby is a pet, she leads from a headcollar and ties up and is so quiet even visiting children can milk her. I daresay when she is recovered and after she runs with the main herd and the bull for the winter she will take a bit of gentling again.