Monday, 13 August 2007

Weaning lambs

Tonight will be a noisy night. Bleating will carry over the barns and penetrate through dreams. Several times I will be half out of the bed in Pavlovian response before I remember that today the lambs were weaned and their calls are unlikely to be due to being caught in fencing, fox attack or rustling. The ewes have been put into a field with a minimum amount of grazing to dry up their milk, and their lambs are on rich pasture in the orchard to fatten. They will share the orchard with the geese whose diet is also grass, and I must remember each morning to shut the goose hut door once the birds are out, or the lambs will bounce up the ramp and bash around inside the hut, causing damage with their sharp little feet and growing girths.
A decade ago, new to sheep, I was devastated to come home to find two unknown but happy Jack Russells, one still a pup, blood dripping from their jaws, yapping in hysterical excitement in the garden. I shut them up in the porch and went into the field to find three ewes down, their cheeks torn out, their tails ripped, their lambs unharmed. The vet came and humanely destroyed the ewes. I said to him, naively, that their lambs hadn't yet been weaned. "They have now" was his blunt but right response.

5 comments:

mutterings and meanderings said...

Good god. What happened to the terriers?

Mopsa said...

The owners were prosecuted; their dogs had been worrying several flocks. The dogs were ordered to be moved to an urban environment. Not convinced that was the sensible solution for a pair of killers - a sheep with lambs is a lot larger and more aggressive than a young child.

mutterings and meanderings said...

You're permitted to shoot dogs that are worrying your sheep?

Mopsa said...

Yes, M&M, but at that time there wasn't immediate access to a gun. If it happened again, I think the outcome would be rather different.

Winchester whisperer said...

"An urban environment" - who on earth makes these decisions? Mind you, they could probably be successful fox hunters in towns these days. You're quite right, of course, they should have been shot.