Tag Archives: lambs

Animals underfoot and a deepening misanthropy

The days begin to run together…the feeding of the animals in the morning, the digging out of nettles and docks. The sheep are grazing in the big field now, I have had to go and get them all the way up here (those little dots at the top near the centre):

Farm 3.8

This is the field where my caravan sits, which isn’t quite so secure, so the bottle fed lambs have started following me around when they see me, and I don’t disappear for too long. That’s pretty sweet of them — at least of the two older and fatter ones, Mimi and Mishka. They at least pretend they like getting scratched and a bit of a fuss made of them.

Sometimes they lead:

 Farm 3.8

Sometimes they follow — here they are trying to follow me into the polytunnel. Molly the dog is often hanging around as well, as you can see. I think the lambs make her just a bit jealous.

Farm 3.9

The other two make it clear you are only a provider of food. They also get stuck everywhere, because they’re not clever enough to figure out the concept of gates and other such barriers. They don’t quite get that sometimes they can see you but can’t get to you without coming around the end of whatever stands in between.

I have no pictures of them.

I do have a picture of the Hunchback of New House Farm and Esmeralda — geese move in gangs of vicious hissing creatures, and these two are no different yet I rather love them as the pair of outcasts that they are, I have been running into them everywhere as well:

Farm 3.8

I got plenty of weeding done yesterday and today, some in the lost garden up top, some in one of the polytunnels today while it was raining. I think I may save up pictures to do a time sequence. I am now wearing rubber dish-washing gloves under my gardening gloves, and it is saving my wrists and my hands.

I also sorted out rubbish from recycling from the two large groups of weekend campers who I hate with a deep hatred as they did not sort out their own recycling and one group also drank an insane amount and the other group had a baby — from the amount of nappies there must have been about four — and it was not fun and all the lambs were in everything as well as Sandy the calf. She trod on my foot, and that hurt. She also added an occasional layer of calf slime to the general dirt on my person. She, too, seems only interested in whether I have food, so I have been forced to fix all of my affections on mimi and mishka, and all of my dreams on a bath.

There is Lilly the kid as well, she is always lovely and affectionate. Even Arthur now is nicer, when not butting me because I am being slow with the corn. His horns are still wicked though.

It rains now, how it rains. It sounds lovely and very loud against the caravan. I have no idea when dinner will be, and I left my rain coat is in the farm house, so I shall end this post on a quandry.

Farming days 5 and 6 (and 7)

There’s a trick to catching a lamb, striking fast, grabbing it by the back leg and scooping it up. Day 5 we herded up the sheep that were here in the orchard because there were some problems that needed monitoring, this little handful was no problem on Monday, though I was tired after:

Farm 1.6

But yesterday, yesterday we started herding the year-old ewes to bring back here to be shorn tomorrow. They didn’t really want to be caught and it all went pear shaped but we vanquished in the end. I can see how important a good sheep dog is, sadly Todd the dog is afraid of sheep so it was the two of us trying to herd.

I didn’t know then that this was starting off easy.

Farm 1.6

Farm 1.6

This is them before being penned in proper tight, so we could give them deworming medicine and their vaccine…I had to spray a spot on their heads for each so we knew who had been done. I am really bad at tagging sheep turns out. They are covered with an array of strange marks and sigils and the occasional appropriate thumb-sized mark.

So we moved them…and I was tired. But the real work would be moving the ewes and lambs into the field these ladies had lately been occupying.

Herding those guys? Jesus. Lambs skipping and jumping and breaking away everywhere. We had one complete fiasco of an attempt, and then tried again and were victorious.

Farm 1.5

So in I waded into this morass of sheep and fished out about 65 of the lambs, one by smelly shit-covered kicking and very heavy one. My facebook update after lying around comatose last night:

65 lambs today. I caught 65 fat and hell of heavy lambs along with other assorted herding and moving sheep in a double decker trailer tasks and I may possibly have been this tired but I have never been this smelly in my whole entire life. Also, sheep are just as stupid as you always thought they were. I am still enjoying farming.

Which I am.  But it is exhausting. I wasn’t strong enough to manage technique, so I grabbed the back leg and then sort of threw my arms around the thing and hauled it up, and then held it for its shot and then as it continued to kick, we fought to get it into the top deck of the sheep trailer.

I don’t even know how we managed them all, and while loading the last trailer load of sheep, in an effort to keep the ewes in the trailer, a tendon was torn (not mine) and so I&T ended up at the hospital but all is okay today. I walked the dog and cleaned out the very disgusting trailer once again. It’s almost as bad as housework.

I can’t really feel my arms.

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Writing Countryside. Also Farming. Day 1

Days are really long in the countryside, especially when you’re not quite used to this work. They leave your muscles aching at the end of them. It is not yet 8 o’clock and I am thinking about going to bed. I have 3 almost-but-not-quite-yet blisters, I do hope they stay that way.

But it is just my first day.

I missed lambing, which made me sad because I do love lambs. Now they are all four weeks old and still hell of cute but a little skittish. Look at them though:

Farm 1

These guys were hanging out next to me while I was mucking out the lambing shed through almost the whole of the morning. I think they hoped I might feed them, or they were just hanging out next to the hay.

Farm 1

I had heard of this mucking out malarky. It is good for instant gratification. Good for your back muscles. Good for bringing out unknown abilities with a pitchfork.

Farm 1

You feel it afterwards though. It was sunny for a while, grey for a while. Then it rained. I was in the lambing shed

Farm 1

It hailed. I moved on to weeding a bank of willows, wild garlic, daffodils and bluebells. The hail was large as you can see.

Farm 1

It snowed a little later on, because hail isn’t slushy, right? But I was eating a delicious sandwich.

Back to work I discovered gloves don’t fully protect you against nettles and those bastards are totally going to win the long-term weeding war given their root systems. Dock is as hard to get out, worms love clay soil, and there are actually tiny centipedes here. Two kinds of ants living secretly underground. Weeding on steep slopes is also no joke. But look at this beauty

Farm 1

I didn’t mind when it snowed later, I was definitely ready for tea.

Farm 1

Farm 1

The sun came out, the snow still fell. This place is beautiful though, especially this view down to the old mill.

Farm 1

A good first day. But hail and snow in April? Hello crazy weather days…

Chewton Mendip and the Mendips

Not a terrible band, no, a lovely village on the edge of the beautiful Mendip hills. We got off the bus with a walk printed off the internet in hand, and off we went.

Actually, no, first we stopped at Lynda’s Loaf for pies and hot cross buns…and, well, we also got some eccles cakes. Because it was amazing, smelled like baking bread because that’s where they bake the bread, and everything looked delicious. And it was.

So off we went. This is the last ever walk we print off the internet. The instructions were bad, we walked through fascinating landscapes with no information and lost ourselves there several times.

We did learn that ‘combe’ mostly means ‘bog valley’. Still, it’s beautiful.  If we’d have had the OS map, we might have found the barrow, the cave known as the Attborough Swallet, known where the lead mine workings were, the lime kiln exactly. Next time.

We should also have looked up the church, unexpectedly beautiful and rich

Chewton Mendip Walk

Chewton Mendip Walk

Norman arch!

Chewton Mendip Walk

Being Good Friday we didn’t go in, but I regret it terribly now as wikipedia quotes Wade and Wade in their 1929 book “Somerset”:

The chancel contains the only extant specimen in Somerset of a frid stool, a rough seat let into the sill of the N. window of the sacrarium for the accommodation of anyone claiming sanctuary.

The countryside was beautiful today though, and we stumbled across these Dr Seussian clumpings of grass that made me happy indeed:

Chewton Mendip Walk

Chewton Mendip Walk

Chewton Mendip Walk

Waiting for the goddamn OS map to arrive to find out what they might be. Mine workings we think. Perhaps.

Then open space. Sky. Joy.

Chewton Mendip Walk

Chewton Mendip Walk

We got lost here. But I suppose it resulted in one of my favourite photographs, though I do want to kick that person who wrote this walk in the head.

Ill humour could not survive these guys though:

Chewton Mendip Walk

ZOMG LAMBS!

Chewton Mendip Walk

I fucking love lambs. And sheep too lazy to stand up.

Chewton Mendip Walk

And all of these sheep actually, even the grown ones. It makes a difference when you can’t actually see their vacant yellow eyes staring blankly at you, just the crazy hair that makes them look like a cross between the impossibly fluffy sheep and the victorious sheepdog from some of my favourite Wile E. Coyote cartoons:

Chewton Mendip Walk

It was all downhill from there.

Chewton Mendip Walk

Literally and figuratively. Despite this:

Chewton Mendip Walk

There was only one dog on puppy lane, and he was no puppy, though bless him.

Chewton Mendip Walk

And it being a holiday, the pub closed early. So no pints for us to toast achey limbs and sore feet. Because this is the first walk in a long while. But yay spring.

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