Thursday, August 22, 2013

Plastic Tiffanys down the farm.

The three A's have had a hard time of it at La Chaise these last few days – and so have the lambs. It was ear-tag time which is no fun for lambs or people. We always leave it to the very last possible moment for Clun lambs, being skittish, are likely to tear them out of their ears, especially when they stick heads through the fencing.

The tags are difficult to place for there is only a narrow space between two large veins and the implement used for piercing is clumsy, not very easy to handle. All the tags, and the piercer, have to be thoroughly disinfected as the numbering goes on. The lambs do not co-operate. Cluns notoriously suffer from la bougeotte as any shearer will tell you.

Arnold gets a lamb firmly wedged between his knees, holds its head whilst Alexandre, having loaded the – how to call it, piercer? - with its coloured tags, quickly punches them in place, two in each ear.

Of course, following la loi de l'emmerdement maximum which is French for sod's law, the tags themselves are not simple. Inside the left ear, the shepherd has to place the electronic button and its matching flag on the outside. The right ear carries two flag tags in different colours. All carry the flock number as well as an individual numero de travail
which the flock owner uses to record – whatever. 

Pretty Me? Pity Me - I died

The afternoon team was Audrey and Alexandre and it seemed to me that the lambs were more tranquil. Perhaps it was because she did not loom over them in the way that the taller Arnold does. Her face was closer to the lamb's face, there was eye contact. Either that, or they were all somewhat dopey from having eaten too much hay and luzerne.

The tags have to be ordered long before one has any idea how many lambs there will be. Last year, annoyed and reckless, I ordered 50 – we had 44 lambs. I always have difficulty with this order, and the accompanying sheet of instructions. There are things one does not want to know.

The last of this winter's lambs leave on Friday...we shall just keep a few of the smallest for – dare I say it – our own eventual consumption.The great sadness this year is that we lost one of the lambs very shortly after the ear-tagging, blood poisoning said the vet without saying how it could have originated. Unnecessary, really.

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