His breeders named him Aladdin, but I've shortened it to a Welsh name: Aled. He's been shown before and is halter trained, plus he has a calm nature. He came home in the back of my pickup and, though we got some strange looks on the highway, he was pretty chill for the hour and a half ride home. He's young and will fill out over the next year, but he's got good conformation. I'm really pleased with him.
Although it's best to quarantine any new sheep before introducing them to your flock, Aled has a health certificate. Even then, as Aled is a ram, I can't just drop him off in the field with my other rams. Boys fight. And rams fight with their reinforced skulls, repeatedly, until someone gets a concussion. So the accepted method of introducing new rams is to pen them together in a small area so they are too close to get a good run up and butt heads.
Pumpkin is trying to stay out of the way - you can just see his back
I made a pen in a section of the lambing barn next to the ewes using cattle hurdles (extra tall and extra strong) and lots of baler twine for reinforcement. It's working fine, though I had to break up a few fights with my shepherd's crook and a stern word. I'm not sure they care about my disapproving words too much.
The rams will stay penned in for a few days until they smell like each other and can get along. I'm taking this opportunity while they're indoors to shear the rams. Ed, the neighbour's shepherd, is going to come tonight and do it for me. My rams are just too big for me to manhandle well enough to shear them properly. My ram-handling skills are limited to wooing them with pats and buckets of grain. I'll set up my shearing machine for Ed, then tomorrow after work I can do the few ewes in the barn that are still waiting to lamb.
I have my own shearing machine, though I'm a terrible shearer. It gets me out of sticky spots, like when a ewe gets maggots in her fleece. I had to treat Grumpy's ewe lamb for maggots this morning. The maggots around her back end were inside her. I had to physically remove them. From inside her. No I'm not taking pictures of that. I then scrubbed her in my kitchen sink with baby shampoo, trimmed her tail, put some anti-fly medicine on her. She proceeded to pee all over my feet (I was wearing crocs). I had pee and maggots on my feet.
I wonder why I keep sheep sometimes.
I will get on YouTube later to remind me the steps for shearing sheep properly. I don't know what I would do without YouTube. This week alone I used it to put a new pull cord on one mower, and replace a blade on another mower. I have very little machinery knowledge. Like almost none. I learn as I go along.
When we got our new (old) tractor, I had to write the list of steps on a note on my phone so I could remember how to start it and what different levers and gears did. Last year we bought a mower to go on the back of the tractor for mowing overgrown fields and paddocks. I taught myself to use it, added more notes to my phone reminder, and paid off the tractor mower by the end of the summer just by hiring myself out to cut people's horse paddock and small fields.
Cutting the pheasant field for Mike last summer. Yes of course I made him pay me!
This week we've made another machinery investment. -
It's a telehandler. Basically it has forks or a bucket on the front so one can lift and move heavy things, bales of hay, pallets of stuff, etc. It's great for saving time and saving wear on an ageing body. Again, it's a slightly older model (in our price range) but sound. I had to drive it home from the farm where it was delivered. I sort of learned to drive it on the way and was grateful no other car was coming down the narrow lanes before I got it home.
It's jointed in the middle - sort of like driving a snake!
I will take a course on using the machine safely. When it comes to dangerous machines, I try and balance "having a go" with being informed. And I'll always ask a local farmer for help when I get stuck.
I bought a small zero-turn ride on mower over winter because it was such a good deal. I can have it paid off too by just mowing a few lawns and orchards in the area this summer.
We are trying to accumulate a few basic machines to help with our farming while we are both employed. The telehandler means I can move all my sheep equipment by myself, purchase big bales of hay and straw at significantly cheaper rates than small bales, and buy my sheep feed in ton bags. Mike will use it for pheasant rearing too. I think it's a good investment.
I promise it's not all work here. In the evenings I let the dogs free range in the orchard. Last night I gave them the bones to chew from the deer i butchered, while I enjoyed a glass of wine. I never underestimate a bit of Dutch courage to get me though things either!