Thursday, 14 April 2016

More Dancing & Pheasant Chick Prep

A few ewes lambed over the weekend:
- Ewe 21 had a large ram lamb
- Friendly Ewe had twin ewe lambs,
- Ewe 7 popped out a set of twin ewes
- Ewe 132S has a ewe and a ram lamb.

Last night I checked my sheep after my night shift at the pub, and eventually found Ewe 2841 in the rushes by the dew pond with twin ewe lambs at foot. I did a little dance, still wearing my apron and (not waterproof) work shoes. Lambing went so well over the weekend that I'm running out of dance moves.

There are only five ewes left to lamb, and one of those ewes keeps wandering away from the flock, restless and looking for a suitable birthing spot. She's not a big girl so I expect to help with the delivery, hopefully before dark.

Last year I kept all my birthing records on my phone. The problem wasn't the smart phone, it was the dumb shepherdess who always forgets to carry it. When I do remember, it's only long enough to lose it. This year I went low-tech and bought a 50p notebook and put it with a pen inside a plastic envelope (my attempt to keep it dryish in a wet climate) and left it wedged in the front pocket of the Land Rover. It works great. It's always on hand and I don't have to worry about cleaning off the blood and sheep juices - though that does cause the pages to stick together.

Grossness aside, my birthing records are bang up-to-date, which is more than I can say for housework, farm accounts, or ironing.

Yeah, like I iron anything.

For a change of topic, let's look at the pheasant chicks: The boss decided to move his shooting a week forward, so Mike has to move his hatching earlier to match. He's setting his first batch tomorrow.

Good hatching requires good hygiene. The guys use an industrial steam cleaner to heat-treat the inside of the incubation and hatching rooms including floors and ceilings. Mike applies a virucide (Virkon) and fumigates the area. He also treats every machine thoroughly, all 8 of them -

The machines are tested by a specialist, and set to go. Ian steam cleans hundreds of plastic trays and inserts that hold the eggs upright in the incubators, or the chicks together inside the hatchers -

It takes a few days' work and must be thorough. Pheasants are weedy creatures, less robust than chicken chicks, and prevention is better (and less expensive) than cure.

I help with the daily washing of the eggs, but I was excused from the pheasant deep clean as I'm busy in the garden. I finished some major pruning work -

The P. laurocerasus on the left used to be the same size as the one on the right.
 I burned the C. selloana in front - an approved pruning method for the plant.

These thugs were taking over the garden. I'm still losing my fight with the bamboos. 

I even got a chance to dig over the small veggie patch -

With a lot of "help" from the free ranging poultry. 

The guys kept bonfires going, a job guys love to do. We cleaned up a forgotten corner of the garden, once used for dumping refuse in the "good ole days", and it opened up all you can see in the photo below -

I said "More room for sheep!" Mike replied that "Sheep are stupid and heavy." Maybe just a few wildflowers then.

Speaking of sheep, I can see from my window that my restless ewe seems to have settled on a spot. I'd better go and check on her. Here's hoping we can both do a little dance to celebrate!

Current tally: 14 surviving ewes, and 26 lambs. 5 ewes still to lamb.

UPDATE: Make that 15 surviving ewes, 28 lambs and 4 more to lamb. Ewe 36 just had twins - a ewe and ram.


Janice Bendixen said...

Jen, we keep a bonfire going most days when the WX allows us to be out doing chores. Many things are just better burned rather than kept near. I have myriad birdcall but no robins yet.

Pam said...

I always like to change the subject when I think about ironing...

Hazel said...

Pam- me too...

Is Ewe 36 the one you thought might need help?

Janice Bendixen said...

Go sheepses! Go sheepses!!! Happy dances never run out

Jennifer Montero said...

Hazel - Ewe 36 was one of two I've been worried about pre-lambing as she is older and quite thin in herself. And she was the one I saw yesterday and knew she would need a bit of help. So you're right on both counts!