Sunday, February 24, 2013

code writer needed in country

A dramatic weekend! On Saturday one of the larger ewes had difficulty dropping her lambs, which is most unusual for Clun Forest ewes. The birth process had started (no, I shall not describe the mildly gruesome details) and then stopped. We waited a couple of hours to see if she would manage by herself – Alex swore he had seen a muzzle – and then called the vet. Eventually the vet arrived and demanded a bucket of warm water and a bucket of cold. He proceeded to deliver the ewe ('push, my girl, push') – of two very large twins, one female, one male. Even the vet admired them. It took very little time for them to stagger to their feet and to seek the maternal udder.

Then on Sunday one of the youngest and smallest ewes produced a foursome. At least we think they were all hers because, although another ewe was calling, she did not follow the lambs to the nursery pens. All bar one of the lambs were vigorous if fairly small. One died but the ewe seemed to manage the other three quite serenely. Monday is full moon. We expect more.

Meanwhile spring is trying to arrive. The first wood violets are showing small flowers, the daisies have not yet raised their heads. The japonica is beginning to flower and the camelia – which is most unsuited to our soil – is laden with buds. In the fields the first leaves of the wild orchids are beginning to spread and some of the daffodils have buds that show colour. Unfortunately, snow is still lurking and temperatures are hovering around the +/- 1 mark and the duck pond did not unfreeze.

I wonder how my carp amor are doing. They are supposed to be able to survive in the muddy bottoms of ponds – but since the pond is so very murky, I shall never know whether or not they have survived the winter. Except perhaps, if the pond weed, their staple diet, returns. Fortunately, the wild ducks who may have decided to live with us, have taken up residence mostly on the Black Pond in the Woods. We feed them from time to time with grains taken from the sheep.

Now that we have so many lambs, another problem raises its head. It would be nice to be able to identify the lamb with its mother without having to put one of those absurdly large electronic tags in its ears. Cluns have very small ears and one does not want to be constantly putting in and taking out identity tags. This leaves only the option of drawing on them with the coloured, rain proof (nearly) grease pens. We need a code writer.

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