My sheep experience continues to increase, slowly, through observation. At least that's what I tell Mike, that I'm "observing sheep behaviour" when he catches me hanging over the fence mooning over the lambs. It's partly true. So far I have noticed:
1) Both the ewes are flexible about feeding each others' lambs - up to a point. The ewe loses her patience when a queue starts forming at her back end.
2) If something startles the lambs, they will start to suckle furiously as soon as the danger has passed. It seems to comfort all concerned.
3) The little ewe lamb is more reserved and clings to her mother while her rambunctious hooligan brothers are rough-housing. She's super cute though -
When you can see a ewe's spine and hip bones like this, it's time to start feeding the lambs on hard food and to move the ewes to richer pasture.
The trick to feeding the lambs is to build a creep feeder - essentially a box around the feed with bars spaced wide enough to let little lambs through and keep big ewes out. I haven't had time to build one yet but a solution presented itself as a result of my sheep observing habits: the lambs usually napped together inside a wire tree guard too low for the ewes to get under -
Empty plastic bag and guilty shepherd. Well, at least the ewes have something to eat. And what was I left with?
Another downside to using the quad bike. I might ask Santa for mud flaps
A dirty trailer that still needed cleaning.
I hope I'm painting a pitiful picture of woe and deprivation for you.
It's not all bad. I still have a lot of windfall apples to make into cakes and pies (which will NOT be left within the reach of counter surfing dogs). There are leeks, cabbages, carrots, and beets in the garden, and the chickens are still laying.
In fact you can see a clutch of Barbara's eggs at the base of our apple tree. She is not making the adjustment from summer to autumn. Barbara has been doggedly sitting on those eggs every day for the past week, and every night I lift her off the nest and put her in the hen house. Every morning she goes back to "incubating" the eggs. She's like the King Cnut of chickens, pushing back the tide of autumn with her determination to bring off another brood of chicks.
I'm also losing the battle against the tide of autumn leaves, but I don't really mind. And my activities give the cows on the other side of the hedge something to look at -
Cows are surprisingly good company, if lacking in conversation. And they don't steal my baked goods.
I wish I could say we were slowing down and taking it easy with winter coming. But pheasant season continues, and doe / hind season has started. There's space in the freezer that wants filling before the deer lose condition. Alan the horse will be back in work this week, and the flock all need worming and foot trims by next Sunday. And I need to build a creep feeder and field shelter before the wind starts coming in from the north.
We're not prepared, we're not organised, and we're rarely efficient, but we are consummate adjusters.