This morning those lambs remaining from last year’s crop were loaded and left. They were by and large those who had perhaps not shone in the past. Still when the weather got cold they were considered a bit delicate and whilst the rest stayed outside these were whisked inside and pampered a bit. Having sheep inside brings its own problems.
Wearing a thick woolly jacket they have problems with temperature regulation, they can get too hot, sweaty and can go down with pneumonia and all sorts of other problems. Then because they’re on bedding, their feet get soft and overgrown and they go lame. So it’s a relief for everybody when they can go back outside as nature (cruel mistress that she is) intended.
We had one who did suffer from its feet. When it came inside we trimmed them because they were a bit overgrown. It seems to have a genetic predisposition to rapid horn growth because I had to trim the feet whilst it was inside and when we put them outside again; I trimmed them for a third time. But it kept hobbling around like an old woman with bunions.
So obviously we kept up the treatment. I would go in with both quad and Sal and I’d catch it. This involved Sal dancing in front of it. The lamb, (about thirty something kilos so we’ve long past the cute stage.) would be far too busy keeping an eye on Sal to worry about me and I’d catch it, turn it onto its back and spray its feet with the magical green spray which clears out various infections.
I did this twice and whilst it got rid of the infections, it didn’t seem to improve things much. So next time I caught it I put it in the back of the trailer and fetched it home. I then stood it with its feet in a bucket of Zinc sulphate solution. So Sal stared at the sheep, the sheep stared at Sal, and I held the sheep in place for twenty minutes and read a little of ‘Three men in a boat,’ by Jerome K Jerome. (Highly recommended if you’ve never read it.)
I then turned the sheep back out with its mates. When I looked at our patient next day it seemed to be much improved. So the following day Sal and I caught it again and gave it another couple of chapters of Jerome K Jerome.
Since then it’s been walking well; so that’s one I can mark down as a success.
But bringing sheep inside always does seem to lead to problems. Ideally lambing ewes stay in for as short a period as possible. Being inside doesn’t do sheep any good.
In another life in another world I had to help somebody who was having trouble with their local trading standards department. Apparently the previous winter they’d had a blizzard and lost ten or a dozen Fell sheep to the weather. Given there were a couple of thousand sheep in the flock my first thought was that they’d done pretty well, and deserved congratulating on the high calibre of their shepherding.
But their local trading standards department seemed to think that it was cruelty because they hadn’t brought the sheep in for winter. So I suggested they got their vet and breed society to write polite letters to trading standards explaining why you don’t house sheep over winter. Indeed if you did, you’d be damned lucky only to lose ten or a dozen.
The letters were obviously written and sent because I got another phone call from the farmer. Apparently trading standards had given up on that approach, instead they were insisting that once it started snowing the farmer should have gone up onto the mountain and brought the sheep down until the snow stopped.
At that point I phoned a few people and discovered that on the day trading standards had demanded a farmer and his children (his only staff) go out onto the mountains to fetch in the sheep, they’d closed their own office as they felt it was too dangerous for their staff to travel to work at sea level! I suggested the farmer point this out, and he heard no more about it.
If you made it up, nobody would believe you.