Saturday, 16 April 2011

Its not just us!

Its not just us. I heard a tale today that made me laugh out loud, but even better, confirmed that its not just us who make horrendous mistakes when it comes to livestock. OK, so I did take a rabbit to the vets with a ruptured penis and found that actually it was a lady rabbit giving birth, mistakes like that are hard to live down. The life an times of a newbie smallholder with its NASA like learning curve are fraught with difficulties, not least of which is that you are suddenly messing with the big boys, the local militia who have been farming for years, they can either be really helpful or totally dismissive of your efforts. Lucky for us the former is the case, but I have tested their patience, like the time I was found feeding porridge to Crispen our pedigree ram because he was losing weight, which I attributed to him having lost all his top teeth. I subsequently found that he had no top teeth from birth, all sheep lack top teeth, as do goats. So it warmed the cockles of my heart to hear his tale from The Oracle today.
We have just about finished lambing, there is an outside chance that Bonny is pregnant, but as she is weeks behind the rest she has been evicted from the stables and joined the gang in the garden. The whole gang has itself been evicted from the garden today after rowdy parties kept us awake and Hetty the cow got into real trouble for playing in the pond and frightening the tadpoles. I spent a merry hour or so trying to persuade the rowdy Ryelands into Goatanamo with its lush grass and maximum security fencing. At mission critical, the point where the whole flock and lambs were about to follow the magic bucket into the stockade a rogue Berner, Aunt Montana, thought she was helping by standing in the gateway. The result was that the Ryelands scattered like a box of malfunctioning fireworks and had to be coaxed, threatened and even dragged into their new dining area. As I hauled a struggling Ryeland up the steep slopes of Goatananmo I remembered the old country saying "you can take a horse to water but a Ryeland sheep has to be carried upside down to new pastures"or similar. Easter took particular exception to having to eat new fresh grass and legged it down the lane. When apprehended she then cantered into the Cauldron. When finally cornered in the yard she tried to hide in the back stable, realising her mistake she tried to leave me on the floor with hoof prints on my face, but made of sterner stuff than a demon sheep I wrestled her to her new accommodation to the applause of the rest of the flock.
Back to The Oracle. He asked if we had finished lambing as he had only one to go. I told him about Bonny and that we were sure we had finished. He looked thoughtful, the one he had left, well he wasn't going to make the same mistake as old Steve the Shepherd from the end of the valley. He had one left, and being a conscientious sort checked it every night for nearly two weeks and still she had not produced anything resembling lamb chops. Finally, as the flock were about to be turned out on the mountain, and thoroughly fed up with waiting he caught the sheep and turned her over to find out what the problem was. It was immediately apparent why she wasn't giving birth, to his horror he found that she she was a Wether, a castrated male, a very fat one, but none the less devoid of the ability to reproduce. So, clearly, its not just us that makes these mistakes.
The chainsaw is back and this time proved to be more than a one cut wonder. The tree trunk is still mostly in one large piece as even with the new improved chainsaw I still had trouble in dealing with it. Hitting a piece of metal hidden in the wood work was just the start and I decided to quit while sort of ahead and have another go once I move the thing to a more convenient place to cut it. At present its wedged in a fence, the chainsaw doesn't like barbed wire. How I move it will be a real test of ingenuity and self harming.
Tristan is growing every minute of every day, or so it seems. He had his six week check the other day and now weighs 12 and a half pounds, a real chunky monkey. Being the sad types we are we still celebrate and discuss every burp, fart and nappy content. Today we were treated to our first chuckle and this picture was taken just as it happened. He is a happy chap. So are we.

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