The trick to tipping a Leicester, tupping time and a bird war looms...
Bob has a sore foot. Willowford’s Leicester tup is hobbling a bit and needs his foot looking at. I’ve heard tell that if you buy a Leicester tup you should also buy a big black bag, but Bob despite numerous little niggles is a fairly robust fellow. And he is beloved of all other sheep on the farm, when he was last sick the other two tups just moped about looking sorry for themselves, the king is ill, oh woe! I’m not very good at tipping sheep yet, I can sort out the lambs and an obliging ewe but with a tup? I’ve no chance. Bob is pretty big and won’t be turned over unless he wants to. He is a quite obliging for Liam after some soothing words and a good scratch behind the ears, but will only put up with so much poking before he gets fed up and rights himself. There doesn’t seem to be anything major wrong with him and some paste is applied in hopes of sorting him out. It’s nearly time for him to get to work.
The two ladies and their calves at Orton Moss have done a very good job of eating off the grass and there is hardly anything left at all. We have to move them off and they go to Aglionby happily, there is plenty for them to munch there.
There are quite a lot of euphemisms when it comes to this time of year on the farm. This week at Houghton the tups, Jimmy and James, went out with the ewes. Houghton is somewhat lower land than Willowford so start their tupping earlier and therefore lambing earlier. I’m going to get a double whammy in the spring, first the 50 odd at Houghton the 100 odd at Willowford. The boys have to have a paint called raddle put on their breast bone so that we can see how many and which ewes have been ‘covered’. Then in 17 days (a sheep’s cycle length) we change the colour to see if any ladies are going back for more, as it were. This way we make sure everyone gets ‘served’, we have an idea of when lambing will start and if we will have two waves or one. When there are children visiting the farm it gets vaguer as we talk of mummies and daddies or husbands and wives. I have to be careful what I say. Needless to say the tups and ewes are unconcerned by all this and get busy with the business at hand. Hopefully new Jimmy will prove himself, old James will lead the way I’m sure. It’s the start of a new season on the farm, oh and lambing at Houghton should start on the 14th March.
I think I see a bird war coming. The geese are getting a scoop or two of barley on a morning now and have decided it’s up there with crab-apples on the must have list. They know who brings it and that it’s in one of the big bins in the yard, a no go zone for birds. Whenever anyone comes through the gate they come charging over to see if its treat time, quite a sight when they are flapping and squawking. They have also realised the hens get a scoop at lunch time. The geese are considerably bigger than the hens and are not afraid of throwing their weight around. Cue goose stampede, hen chaos and me frantically trying to shoo them. The hens don’t stand a chance; they may have to have their scoop in the run where the geese can’t get at them. I’ve also discovered the quad bike horn is pretty effective at shutting the geese up when they are having a good squawk/squabble over something, at least temporarily. They stopped fighting over crab-apples and all stared at me; you’re not the only one who can be noisy!