Thursday, 31 January 2008

Sharp sight and blurred vision

This morning, leaning into the wind, I called the llama to come and get his feed. Normally he waits for me by the gate but he was sheltering behind the high hedge and although he turned to look at me, wouldn't come. What with the howling weather, I was keeping my head down and my fleecy beanie had slipped partially over my eyes, and not being madly attentive to what was happening around me I was hoping to deliver a quick feed and achieve a swift getaway.
And then a scrawny and not particularly lithe dog fox lolloped across the field, heading away from the llama and the sheep and towards the pig paddock and the ducks. I skidded after him as a frightener, and although he kept away, his less than chubby state makes me think he'll be back.
Later, walking Fenn through the wood we disturbed a red deer stag with soft, velvety antlers, about a foot or so in length, about half their potential size. The stag bounced towards me and then veered off, easily reaching safety whilst Fenn panted by my side in excitement.
Coming out of the wood I noticed that one of the Torwen ewes was in the wrong field. She was quite happy, chomping on the rushes and new shoots of grass. If she had been one of the normal flock she would have been in a state of panic, separated from the others, running back and forth alongside the gate or pushing at the hedge to get back with the rest. But one of the Torwens, although otherwise healthy, is blind, and she seems happy enough although she spends some of her time away from the rest of the flock, usually eating close to the hedgelines out of the wind. As the ewe was so quiet and clearly not bothered it was obviously her. She must have dropped through the small gap in the hedge from the field above as she wandered along; the others wouldn't attempt this jump unless there was no grazing or hay in their field.
She was unhurt, and easily encouraged up to the gate and put back with the others. She might find her way back out tomorrow of course, but the sheep can't be moved elsewhere at the moment as the newly laid or coppiced hedges in their main fields need to be kept untouched by animal until the banks are earthed up and fences erected, all of which will happen in the next few weeks prior to lambing.
Careful watch will need to be taken with this ewe during lambing; she will be brought in early and checked regularly. If she fails to mother her lambs she will need to be culled. Otherwise, all that seems to be required is watching out for her particularly diligently to ensure she doesn't put herself in danger and that she gets plenty to eat.

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