Storm Gareth be damned, I am preparing for a tempest of my own. We are about a fortnight off lambing. The ewes have been given their boluses (to ensure correct absorption of much-needed minerals and trace elements), inoculated, wormed and scanned. I am bringing them in now every night for a high protein feed and for me to cast a Shepherd’s eye over them from a general health point of view. And they love it. All I have to do is go into the field and rustle an empty feedbag. The moment they hear that sound, its heads up, a collective “grubs up” bleat and they all shamble off down the bridle path towards the barn.
Feeding has to be a controlled affair – they weigh around 80kgs and can easily bowl me over in their enthusiasm to get to the feeding trough. I divide them into 2 groups: those ewes carrying twins and triplets on one side and those carrying singles on the other. The first group get slightly more food, just to give those multiple lambs and their mums the extra nutrition they all need. The ewes carrying singles get slightly less. Why? The worst lambing scenario is that enormous lamb that the poor ewe cannot push out and if you over feed at this late stage of pregnancy, you risk that single growing too much too fast. Learn that lesson the hard way years ago!
So its 9 ewes on short rations, 12 ewes with twins and our 2 ladies with triplets getting the lion’s share. I am watching closely a ewe called Orchid – a mighty large lady but the scanner picked up that one of her twins is dead in the womb. I check her every day ensuring she is well in herself and showing no signs of a fever which may suggest sepsis. So far so good but I will need to lamb her with extra care.
I am also watching closely a little ewe called Bunch. She is a dear creature but surprised me last year by producing her lamb 2 days early, at 3am and the lamb was upside down and backwards. I called the lamb Buttercup and she has grown up with what I can only describe as ovine attitude.
So come hell or high water, gales or hurricanes, in the next fortnight, I will be in the barn with my ewes and ready to help them through whatever nature chucks at us. That’s the farming way.