Managing the flock

The work doesn't stop once the lambs are born and moved out to the fields. They need two vaccinations to protect them from a range of unpleasant diseases, the flock needs shearing, and before you know it, it is time to be making preparations for tupping again. Alongside the planned stuff there will always be a few surprises and emergencies to keep us on our toes!

The boys spent much of the summer in the Quarry, grazing the huge expanse and exploring the rocky crags and gullies. We sheared the whole flock ourselves and attended the Hebridean Sheep Society summer symposium for the first time, picking up tips and making new friends.

New skills were learned too - like making felt-backed rugs from our fleeces.

Gimmer shearlings

Fleeces airing on the fence

Stock sales

Throughout summer and autumn there was a lot of interest in our stock. All the gimmer shearlings, aside from one we retained in the flock, and all the gimmer lambs were sold to new keepers.

Shearling tups went off to join new flocks across Lancashire and Yorkshire and one of the tup lambs joined a small flock just down the lane when their tup unexpectedly succumbed to pneumonia late in the year.

The remaining shearling tups went off and provided a dozen half hogget boxes to our meat customers - selling out within hours.

Tupping tragedy

After last year's unplanned start to tupping we were being extra careful to ensure the ewes were well separated from the tups. Then we found that the vet couldn't get Chronogest sponges! Luckily, they could supply us with CIDRs instead and these turned out to be far easier to use - both on insertion and removal.

Then one morning, just a few days prior to his scheduled meeting with the ewes, we found Big Boy down in the field, still being charged and butted by Viking. The vet thought it most likely to be a neck injury from fighting but sadly treatment made no difference and he couldn't walk. There was obviously some spinal damage as he was very unsteady when stood up and dragged his back legs when trying to walk round the pen we'd moved him to in the polytunnel. There was nothing further we could do and we had no choice but to avoid further suffering.

Big Boy had been such a great tup for us, largely good natured, a 100% record at getting ewes pregnant, and siring big, strong tups. His genetics live on in our and a number of other flocks though.

Now it was all down to Viking! This year he seemed up to the task and marked every ewe over the course of the week.

Felted fleece rug

Winter sunset

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