I posted recently about Barbara, our missing (presumed dead) silkie hen. She hasn't been home in over a week. Because of all the fox activity and her propensity to go broody in fox-accessible places, I assumed she had simply been a late-night vulpine snack. But, I hadn't found any feathers which was unusual - considering she was a white chicken - as any traces of her would stand out.
This week we found Barbara. She went broody just behind the house, tucked up in a bale of straw. The same bale of straw which the lambs used as a day bed. The lambs must have piled on top of her to have a nap, and either crushed or suffocated her while she sat on her nest.
Poor Barbara - you can just see her head
I suppose chicken smothered in Lamb could be a recipe. Chicken smothered by lamb is only a recipe for disaster. Barbara went to the Big Sleep because of some small sheep.
Wanted for crimes against poultry
My murderous lambs have now graduated from their bijou back garden pen to the acre-sized paddock at the bottom of the driveway. They have been weaned at the same time, and they are objecting about it loudly and at all hours of the day and night. Between a kennelful of dogs, crowing cockerels and now protesting lambs, we are officially the worst neighbours ever. I will try and atone with gifts - a joint of lamb or venison for each household (eggs and jam for the vegetarians), and ten Hail Marys for good measure.
The paddock was vacant after a trip with the boys to the abattoir, or "Summer Camp" as I've renamed it. I loaded them into the trailer easily and we were on the road by 6.30am. I'm only the driver now, Mike unloads and gets them settled in. I don't get out of the truck. There were no tears this time, but that could have just been the Valium I took before we set off, as extra insurance. Don't tell Mike, he thinks I'm a stouthearted farmer now.
Actually, the carcases look really good this time. Not so much excess fat, but still well-covered, and each killed out at 33kgs -
Now I just have to find time to butcher one hundred kilos of lamb by Saturday.
Eunice didn't go the Summer Camp with her brothers. She's rejoined the Ewe's co-operative on the laying field, turning grass into new lambs and sheep shit. Eunice is only producing the latter this year, as she won't see the ram until next spring. But there was a problem with the poop: scours. The ram lambs were fine but three of the ewes, including Eunice, had very messy bottoms.
Being newly stouthearted and immune to poop, I collected samples for the vets then scrubbed their wool clean to prevent flies laying their eggs on the dirty wool. I've spared you (and my pride) photos of the undertaking.
The vet sent the sample to their labs and the worm count was horrifying. My worming program hasn't been working. The lab made a special call to the vets rather than wait for the results to arrive by post, that's how bad it is. The sheep - or more specifically, their worms - are resistant to the wormers I used. I had to crate each sheep and give her an injection. Fly maggots are trying to eat them from the outside, and worms are trying to devour them from the inside. And I'm trying to save them so at some point I can devour their offspring.
In comparison, being squashed in straw doesn't seem like such a bad way to go.