Shaun’s unexpected sheep situation

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I made a note to myself this last week, which if I’m honest I’ve thought about making many times before. The note read: If ever I get the chance to play hide and seek with a wood pigeon, make sure he doesn’t hide anywhere near me!

I appreciate that it’s a bit random, to say the least, but recently I’ve noticed just how noisy they are around the farm. It’s not because they sing a lot or coo very much at all, but if by chance you walk past a tree they are roosting in, day or night, then they just can’t help themselves.

Unlike other birds who would just sit tight and mind their own business, as you pass them by, the woodies go into some sort of feathered frenzy and start flapping uncontrollably until they struggle their way through the branches and fly away. So many times, I’ve just stopped and stared, whilst thinking to myself, “Just why all that unnecessary effort and racket, ruining my peace and quiet, it’s not called for at all”.

We are now only a couple of weeks away from being out in the country for four years. Over that time we have learned so much about so many different things, including our sheep. Recently though, out of the blue, another lesson has been learned, which we didn’t expect. Rightly or wrongly, this year we decided to give the ewes a rest from lambing duties, just to give them a break.

Anyway, for some weeks I had been concerned that I had somehow made a mistake whilst castrating last year’s ram lambs and so as a result some of my ewes were now unexpectedly in lamb. In the past I may not have had the best track record in the castration stakes and it wasn’t helped that I’d often be out with the sheep and would notice that these ewes seemed to be getting a little chubby around their middles.

For the life of me I couldn’t understand what was going on. It was the middle of winter, they weren’t being overfed, so they must be in lamb! That was until I spoke to Martin, the coal man. Not only is he a coal man, but he’s also a proper farmer too… a sheep farmer no less.

He explained exactly what was going on with the sheep. We have only ever seen our sheep in lamb at this time of year and during the winter months they would normally be giving all the goodness from their food to their unborn lambs, whilst eating for two. Of course, this has changed this year as they aren’t in lamb and so as a result all that extra grub has been heading straight for their own waistline. It all sounds sense to me, so hopefully the mystery is solved.

I know that I shouldn’t be willing the days away, but I can’t wait for the spring to arrive. It’s such an exciting time of year with the birth of so many new lives going on around us and already we are seeing signs. The snowdrops are starting to appear in both the borders and wooded areas, there are magnolia trees already well in bud and as I walk around the farm there’s an abundance of bulbs beginning to burst their way through the cold winter earth.

I can obviously see such a lot of beauty in nature through the winter months, but I like to see colours too around the place, and maybe a little less mud would be good too!