Sunday, March 31, 2013

A big welcome to the fourth 'A'

Last week's great excitement was the liberation of the sheep, plus their lambs, from confinement in the sheep barn. A riotous occasion that showed how truly stupid sheep/lambs can be. You would think humans could just open the doors to the grass rich green fields and the ewes would pour out, followed by their offspring. Wrong.

Many of the ewes do rush out, followed by some of the lambs – not necessarily related one to the other. A few ewes rush around in circles looking for their lambs whilst a large number of lambs hide in nooks and crannies, resisting all encouragement to go outside. The main management tool, up till now, to get this exercise sorted in as short a time as possible, has been the wooden barrier, skillfully manipulated by A ¹ = Arnold. The wretched thing (barrier, not Arnold) weighs a small ton and is not very effective.

Given that A's 2 and 3 (Alexandre and Audrey) were temporarily absent, I was permitted, requested, bullied into helping, though I am only a D. I knew the theory but was hardly dressed for the job, in stockings, skirt, ear-rings and a new, clean pullover. The final six lambs were fished out of their hiding place by me on my knees in the shitty straw, reaching under a manger, catching a leg, hauling them out and passing them to Arnold. He then tipped them over the gate from which they could go to their bawling mothers – mothers who were bawling with their mouths full of fresh grass. This took 45 minutes

Arnold and I both dreaded the reverse action that evening, when all had to be brought back in from a much larger space, with many, many more hiding places. This requires walking round the field, rattling the grain pan and walking back towards the barn. Then going down to the fields again a couple of hours later to see who was outside the barn, bawling to be let in, usually the smallest lamb.

But this time a new, four legged sheep management tool was brought into play by Alexandre. He wanted to see how the young Haska, (the 'H' is silent) his dog, would behave when the sheep were in the fields. Haska has the same colouring – black and tan - as Bianca, Clea's dog, pre-dominantly Beauceron, a short-haired French sheepdog breed, whose favourite activity was rounding up the sheep into a square and then waiting for further instructions. The sheep apparently could not tell one from the other, obediently formed a line, lambs alongside, and trotted into the barn. The reverse action the following morning took ten minutes. A 4 welcome to the La Chaise management team!.


Forgot to mention last week that it was St Astier's 1,000th birthday – of church and town. Many celebrations in both, with expositions of medieval life and early pictures of the town.

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