I got here last night and set up the caravan in another hay shed. It was a lovely night. Brian (different Brian!) came over at 8 to show me where everything is. He also told me he needed the remaining fat hoggs to be brought in by 10am. I hadn't realised this before I'd left and had decided since Ffi is due any day, that I'd leave all the dogs with my friend and dog sitter, and just bring Ffi, Ghost and Remy. I usually use Ffi and Mist to do all contract work including gathering. So poor Ghost after a months hard labour we had to also bring in about 200 lambs on one farm and 200 on another. Coupled to the fact it was extremely hot, and the first shed I was putting them in is very badly positioned in that there are two open sheds next to it, and various other "sides" which need to be kepped. I decided to take Remy with me for the walk too. We got them into the farm yard no bother but the problems started at this shed. It occurred to me while we were struggling to get them in that we have never put them in this gate before as it's so akward, and that I usually have myself, two or three dogs and Brian at least to cover the exits. There are pigs in the other parts of the shed so there was no option but to get them in that gate. Ghost worked like a trojan as usual but we were getting beaten by the fact between him and Remy and I (Remy on a lead!) we couldn't cover all the sides. In the end much against what I felt was safe, I had to get Ffi out to help. I was worried she would over do it (she is very heavily in whelp now) or Ghost might run into her, or a hogg might. Thankfully she was careful and didn't run around too much. She was just enough help to get them in and I was very relieved to shut the gate! Ghost had a little break before I left for the other farm while Brian and the guy from the market drew out the fat. It was even hotter now as it was after 10. I sent Ghost to gather the next lot and he went out to the right. I never usually use him for big gathers and I was really pleased that despite him doing nothing but small outruns for a month, he went out brilliantly and gathered the field which would be about 100 acres at least. The guy from the market came out to help at the gate (hoggs will continually break and try to get away or just refuse to go through gates) and Ghost was just about dropping from exhaustion by this point. However being Ghost he just kept going and we got them in.
The sun has been shining most of the day with only a few heavy showers and hail storms. Things are much greener up here and I have to say I am very glad to back in Perthshire.
I am lambing over 500 North Country Cheviots here, however they are all ewes with one lamb, the twins are being lambed else where.
The metal gate on the right is where we were putting the hoggs into this morning. You can see how the shadow of the other shed falls over the entrance which makes it even more difficult as they are suspicious of it.
After lunch I moved a lot of ewes which have already lambed out of the lambing field. It was very hot and Ghost had had a hard day already, however in true Ghost fashion he just kept going. I'd rather have given him a bit of a break but things have been quiet today and you have to get on top of jobs like this when you have a chance.
Having a well deserved break.
This lamb was going round in circles and digging a bed on his mum's back like a little dog before he decided it was comfortable enough to lie down!
Yes I am Remy, the most superior sheep dog...
Poor Ghost is suffering from yesterdays work. I was quite worried about him last night as he was panting quite a lot and was very stiff. Today he is a lot better but still a bit stiff so I had to come home and pick up Poppy. He would of course still work and put his heart into everything, but I will make him have a rest until he is better.
Mist's pups are massive compared to when I saw them a few days ago. The lilac bitch and dog are opening their eyes, and the brown one is opening his a little bit.
I had a lucky lamb this morning, he had just been born seconds before I got there but was still "in the skin". The ewe was licking his back end, so he would have suffocated in a matter of seconds had I not been there. I cleared his nose and mouth and he was fine.
I lambed another ewe who was struggling to get a bigger lamb out. Everything was there so it was just a case of pulling the front legs out and then the head.
I moved a few more lambed ewes which were near the gate into the other field while I was out this morning and a few more before lunch. Hopefully if I get some moved each turn, I should catch up with the backlog of older lambs.
Today Norma, Jimmy and Beth came over to visit. Beth (CorrieDhu Spot x Mist) is just two years old and Norma has been training her to be a sheep dog for the last year. This is the first time Norma has trained a sheep dog and despite being in dogs all her life the first time for a long time she has owned a Border Collie.
It's a tricky job for a young dog as they firstly have to realise that despite the fact their owner has told them off for not bringing all the sheep previously, now they have to leave most of them behind and just bring some or one. Also the dog has to do the kepping, and lie down until told to move, while the person keeps the ewe moving on. Too much dog and not enough person, will make the ewe fight to protect her lamb and not want to move at all. As far as the ewe is concerned there is a slavering wolf behind her and she will not want to turn her back on it. So keeping the dog well back and keeping her going yourself will get her moving faster (although she will still go at her own pace!).
At the gate
Beth did extremely well for a first attempt and is coming back tomorrow to do some more.
As you can see from the photos, the weather has been glorious and according to the forecast we are in for more of that - excellent!
Things have been pretty quiet here so far. I have had to lamb a couple of ewes a day, but the ewes are very canny and so far have been very easy to catch. Brian has errected excellent large pens in the field. I just walk them up to one of the pens with Ghost, lamb her, and as long as she is licking the lamb and not trying to take off, I leave the gate open and she vacates the pen when she is ready, then it's empty with the gate at the right position for the next one. Coupled with the weather, things have been very nice for Ghost and I!
Ffi's pups seem to be thriving. At the moment I am planning to keep the merle bitch and the bitch with the white blaze who is black and white I think, the other bitch is a tri colour.. I have waited a long time for this litter and I am glad there is finally, a solid bitch (or two!) to keep.
Today I had a ewe with a lamb dead "in the skin". Extremely annoying. I had a gimmer with little milk who didn't want her lamb so I took that lamb and skinned the dead lamb so I could give it to the ewe.
Here he is with the skin on and his new mum pleased as punch with him. I will take the skin off later tonight and let her out the pen tomorrow.
This estate is full of wildlife, particularly hares and deer. This morning in the space of 40 seconds I saw 4 hares, 2 deer and a black rabbit.
Hiding in the grass
Too slow to get a good photo!
Norma came over again today and she and Beth helped me to shift more singles. We moved about 25 before it got too hot for the dogs. This afternoon I took Poppy out and shifted a few more. Brian brought me a bit of rubber for the back of the bike as the dog box is a bit small and slippery. Ghost being a seasoned bike rider is fine on it but Poppy keeps sliding off and hitting me in the back, which is pretty annoying! Other than that she likes the bike and is very laid back about being on it (probably why she slides around so much!).
Today Brian and the farm hands were putting out cattle to grass. They shifted 300 today, so we have new neighbours who were very excited to see the quad bike!
Yesterday was my birthday so between checking the ewes I was treated to a BBQ. The weather was perfect as usual (long may it continue!!).
I had to catch a couple of gimmers and lamb them. They are quite flighty so I penned them up over night. They are happy with their lambs today.
Today has been really hot and muggy. Having had a week of very few problems I am starting to get plenty now! I've had a few ewes with mastitis so had to lift their lambs. I got them twinned onto other ewes however. Last night I had a gimmer with balloon teats. I'd caught her, fed the lamb and milked her out earlier that day but the lamb still wasn't managing. I had to catch her last night and pen her so I can get the lamb feeding from her every time I go past. Then this morning I had a ewe with exactly the same problem. Got her into a pen to discover she was getting mastitis on one side. I fed the lamb from the good side and gave her a good dose of anti-biotic. As I caught it very early it might come right. I will keep milking the affected side right out for a few days.
Tonight I am moving a hundred singles into another field. The ewes are being sold with lamb at foot by the end of May and the first batch should go on Wednesday. Once they are shifted I'll start sorting another batch of 100 into that field. It's been a struggle moving many as it's so hot.
When I went home tonight I fed Mist's pups for the first time. For some reason the empty dish is a much saught after bed!!
Last night I had a ewe put her lamb bed out (Uterine Prolapse).
Thankfully it was pretty clean and hadn't been out long, so relatively easy to put back in. First I washed the prolapse in warm water with mild disinfectant in it.
Then I gently eased it back in. You have to be careful not to burst it. The best way is to use the palms of your hand and firm pressure to ease it in. I gave her a good shake to put everything in the right position and off she went.
At ten pm it was still in, and at 5 am it was still in. However by 8am she had pushed it back out.
I phoned Brian to see if he had a needle or a prolapse harness but he didn't so he called the vet to come out. I put the prolapse back in and took the ewe and her lamb into the steading. By the time I got back in with her, she had put it out again. I put it back in and fashioned a rope harness while she waited for the vet. There was no real reason for it keeping coming out. When the vet came she gave her an epidural in her spine to stop her pressing as well as a pain killer. The vet said she had got her bladder wrapped round it.
Today she is ok so she should go outside later.
Have not been able to update blog due to van disaster. Unfortunately my van is off the road until Wednesday at least, so no access to the internet!
I am nearly finished lambing now. 50 of the ewes have been sold with lamb at foot, another 100 including the gimmers are going on Monday and the remainder should go in the next 10 days or so.
Mist's pups are now very active and looking into their surroundings with interest. They will be weaned shortly.
Ffi's pups are just opening their eyes, once they are open I will take some new photos of them. The two smallest pups are really catching up with the rest now. I am going to keep the merle bitch "Nia" and the black and white bitch with the blaze "Rosie".
I think this is therefore the "The End" of the lambing blog for 08. Due to the interest and enthusiasm in the emails I've got about it. I might keep a work blog over the Summer too! Thanks for reading.