February 09

Lambing Blogs: April 08* April 08 Part 2* May 08

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January 09

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2 February The Nursery

Yesterday I judged the 7th Central Nursery of the season. Each Nursery League have their own trials, and the top dogs from the League go forward to the Nursery Final held in March. Nurseries are nearly always held on hoggs (year old sheep) and by this time of year you would expect to see stock hoggs not feeding hoggs since the feeders should mostly be away fat by now. This trial was held on very nice Greyface hoggs (Blue Face Leicester ram over a Blackface ewe) who were fairly obedient when the dog was correct however were quick to judge a weak or inexperienced dog. Nursery dogs in Scotland are different to in other countries as there is an age limit. The dog must not be 2 years of age before the 1st of April of the following season (Nurseries are held in the winter months, usually starting in October, and finishing with the Nursery Final in March). Other UK countries and individual leagues in other countries have different qualifications such as any age but must not have won a prize (even a prize for the worst dog on the field would discount a dog), must not have set foot on a trial field, and so on. The field for this particular nursery was a large stubble field. Not so large the dogs should get lost, although a few did, but big enough to make sure there was a good outrun to each hand and a good test of the dogs. It was an enjoyable day and I think I got the prize list right.

Currently we have a light dusting of snow - about 5 inches, with a lot more forecast tonight and tomorrow. May have problems tomorrow as I don't have a four wheel drive as it's with my collegue. Also having connection problems as I have satellite broadband and it doesn't like Scottish weather! Thankfully I have plenty of coal and food, including animal food of course, so even if I get snowed in for a few days we will survive!

4 February Moving sheep

Today we were shifting sheep around to get prepared for lambing time. We want the close at hand sites empty so the grass will come away, and the ewes in a good place to feed if/when necessary.

Today we were moving the Cheviot x Shetland ewes to a new home. They are in lamb to the Texel tup, and therefore are our most potentially valuable and most likely to have problems, flock.

I decided to use Lu to gather them as they are fairly well behaved. However then I found out they had a few friends with them - escapees from elsewhere on the farm and neurotic soay crosses at that! She got them gathered and I shed off the neurotic ones and left them for later. She doesn't know how to shed yet so did quite well really!

Ewes grazing in the distance.

Lu giving them plenty of room and missing nothing.

Got them to my feet.

Driving them away.

If she wasn't so black, and the shadow wasn't there, this would be a good pic!

Nearly there. She got them in the pen without any problems but she isn't quite ready to do it all herself while I take photos.

That done I went back with Ffi to get the neurotic soays...

Having loaded the escapees into the trailer we took them back to where they were meant to be.

Unfortunately a 2 minute job turned into a waste of half a day when the landrover got stuck and the trailer jackknifed so there was no way out (no I was not driving!).

Oh dear.

The people who own the field have a Landrover. Sadly it was otherwise engaged and sitting at the local train station waiting for it's commuter owner to come back to it. They have a tractor too, but sadly it isn't working. A few begging phone calls later a man with a tractor was located, but sadly, he was unable to come for several hours! Since I was driving the van and not the landrover, I went off to check on some other sheep while "operation free landy" took place. 3 hours later we met back up at the destination we should have been at hours before!

Trailer in position.

Mobile sheep gate in position to prevent the bottom deck taking off without the top deck.

Bottom deck thinking they are making their escape.

Top deck quite happy where they are.

But they conceed the grass may be greener and off they go.

These ewes have never been on this site before, and have come across an obstacle they neither like, nor have seen before!

The Shetland ewes usually take off at a hundred miles an hour and get to the reserve before I am a third of the way along the track, however the Cheviots are more sedate.

My demonstration that there is honestly a bridge and we aren't trying to drown them, does not impress.

Ffi is better at impressing on them the need to get their backsides over the bridge!

They all survive...

The Shetlands don't usually bother to stop at the gate either and just run past it, no matter how often they have been through it!

And their new home seems to please them. They will stay here until a few weeks before they lamb.

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