Tuesday, 31 December 2013

New Year's Resolution BLOG!

Well, I am back, for how long?  New Year's Resolution was to start the blog again.  I am sure that a lot has happened since October 2011 but that would take too long to rewrite history.  We are still settled and enjoying our life up here in Caithness.  The flock has grown and changed a little.  There are now 46 Jacob ewes, 15 Cheviot gimmers and 5 new Suffolk ewe lambs.  We now have three pedigree Jacob tups.   28 Jacob ewe lambs and 2 tup lambs and crosses are also going through the winter, either as replacements or for sale.  The tups are out and munching hay.  Lambing is due to start 21st march.  This us the first year that we haven't sponged the ewes so it will be interesting.

Our plan is to have a really sheepy 2014 so I will try and keep the blog up to date and....take mire photos!

I am currently waiting for the equipment that will enable me to do my own Fecal Egg Counts.  The USB, digital microscope is set in ready and waiting.  Next blog on this topic?

Saturday, 22 October 2011

Tupping goes on and on and on and........

Back again and as @CaithnessCraft keeps telling me on Twitter, with far too long between posts.  So first, an update on tupping.  this year we are using Tom (Cavers Ram out of Cavers Centurion) for the last time (he is still looking magnificent despite the limb induced by jumpong over my far too low fences (another year with no barb or wire above the Rylock!!).  My what a long sentence.  we are also using our new tup lamb 'Hope Caleb' out of the Harries' Hope flock.  if I tell you we are on the 5th Raddle colour you will get the idea!!  the plan to lamb in january (24th) is on. However, in the ever changing plan of; 'when will it end?' it looks like Easter is the answer ( or at least, the latest one!)!

It looks as if there are about 4/5 jacobs left to tup (out of the ~28)  I am losing count a little as there were 3 jacobs that were to be culled, but have had a reprieve!! 

We have sold our first ewe lambs, 2 to @woolbothy.  that leaves us with 9 that should be added to the flock as replacements / grow the flock towards 50 ewes.

We have 1 tup lamb to register that will most likely be sold at the sales next year.

This weekend is a landmark one for us as we are off to the sale on monday.  Rather than buying (we will see!) I am selling!: all of this year's cross lambs; the jacob tup lambs that haven't made the grade; and most importantly our non jacob ewes. 

the plan was to be left with only the jacobs,  but unfortunately; Tom's jumping means that there are ~8 cross ewes that  are staying another year!!

The weather looks good for all of the jobs that need to be done in preparation; dagging and tagging!  All that is left to do is to move a................paused to go and put 3 lambs back in the field......back.....nd rebuild the race on some grass rather than mud!!

The other ongoing task is to work out how to performance record the flock myself... gathering data, but it seems the thing to do is interpret and use it!! 

playing more and more with twitter no as @baabaa.

be back soon (what are the chances..)

Thursday, 18 August 2011


Well I should start with an update as it has been such a long time!!  lambing went well.  well for the jacobs anyway.  Nearly all of our crosses, mules etc had to be assisted, I had pretty much every malpresentation.  Still all went well.  The jacobs were much easier the key really being there as they lambed a little too easy so had to make sure a few of the twins were out of their waterbags.

Last year there were only 2 ewe lambs! so delighted this year that half of the 22 lambs were female.  The jacobs were kept indoors for an exttra fortnight before being put out to give them a head start although of course rthe spring was very forgiving. 

So the plan for next lambing has been to btring lambing as far left as possible.  So with the lambs weaned 6 weeks ago we have decided to sell 2 ewe lambs locally to friends and the other girls will be staying in the flock.  We have 2 tup lambs that we will run on the others are going to the mart as store at the end of the month.

Having attended the jacob sales at worcester and st boswells needing only to pick up our new tup lamb 'Hope Caleb' and perhaps another tup,  I ended up with an additional 6 gimmers and an april born tup lamb.

This evening we sponged the first half of the ewes the rest will be done on sunday, so lambing date set for 24th january!! here we go again.

Really nice to see old & new friends at the shows, it is a shame to live so far from the action the rest of the year.  just go to try and stay away from the rest of the sales!!

Ahh well lack of posting, purged, back to big brother opening night.

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Scanning results

One of the problems of having an 8 month pregnant wife is that she has to stay away from the sheep and can't chase after them in the usual manner.  this afternoon we had to get the sheep indoors to get scanned.  We managed to get most in but I had to man handle the last 5 across the courtyard.  Just getting them in as the guys arrived scanner in tow.

Remember we sponged the ewes and the tups were only in for a week so we were expecting some to be barren.

the results were:

11 Singles
18 Twins
6 Triplets
12 Barren

Probably more barren than we would have hoped for but it looks as if one of the jacob shearlings wasn't working (all 3 of his were not in lamb).

Not sure what the breakdown is between the 3 flocks; (Jacob; cheviot & allsorts) as I was too busy pushing them towards the scanner!  So will run them through the race at the weekend and check and seperate them ready for the different feeding regimes.

Of course I need to decide what to do with those not in lamb but I suspect most will stay in the flock.

Sunday, 16 January 2011

Caithness Craft Collective

Having just listened to myself being 'interviewed' by our friend Louise for her caithness craft collective blog I thought I better write something!!

Well, a lot of weather has happened since my last post.  Along with the rest of the country we have had to cope with weeks on end of stubborn snow.  It took its toll on the flock as well. We have lost 3 sheep!

First was a two horn tup that we bred 3 years ago and look after for friends who have owned it for the last two years.  I have learned over the last few years that by the time you have spotted something  is obviously wrong the cause will be fairly advanced.  The tup really was just hanging back from the others and not coming readily to the trough.  the day before he died I was checking him as I was concerned and he had enough energy to keep out of reach other than whe nhe charged me and the torch!!  our friends had an autopsy conducted and a virus on the lung had gone to the heart.

The next was the thinnest of our ewes.  we had been feeding the four thinnest ewes daily but after a month or so she just gave up.

Lastly one of our lambs. We didn't sell all of our lambs sept - oct which means we still have 20 or so left.  The lamb we lost probably died with a mineral deficiency.  Again with the snow not clearing although the lambs had access to hay and water  it became obvious that one in particular was struggling with a number having very dirty back ends.  We immediately brought them indoors with the lamb in question too weak to walk needing to be carried in.   They were all fed hay and creep but after 2 days the lamb that gave us concern gave up.  Very sad and disappointing.  The lambs were kept in for another two days and with the weather breaking we put the lambs and the three 'thin' ewes in the paddock with newly sown grass and of course hay.  They are all getting extra rations and having decided to sell tem as 'store' in early february sale at Quoybrae I got them all in this weekend and checked them over.  nothing world breaking but they are all alot healthier; and the 'thin' ewes are all body score 3.5; some sort of success.  Have spoken to our local scanning contractor so just waiting for a date for the scanning now.

Next update likely to be following scanning date.  Lambing due to start on 25th March.  not long now!

Monday, 8 November 2010

Cheviot superstar in the making?

As part of the plan to keep lambing to a short period having put the tups in on the 31st October with the majority of the action happening on the 1st and 2nd of November, this weekend was the opportunity to take at least some of the tups out.

For the Jacobs our main tup 'Tom' had completed his task with his 7; 1 of the 2 of his offspring, Sarah's favourite had also covered his 4 (our old favourites) leaving only the 4 that had lossed or retained sponges.  each of the other 2 tups then, each had 2 ewes left.  Sunday evening (7/11/10) sees them with only 1 left each.  The white allsorts still have their 2 texels in with them but I am pleased to say that our on loan pedigree cheviot tup who succesfully completed his tasks very early on in the week was brought in to the race and loaded without incident.  I feel priveliged to have been able to use a tup from such a prolific and regarded flock, but with Tina's tups selling for over £1000 a time, it is with some relief that we send him back in one piece.  Hopefully all 6 ewes have taken!!

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Red is the colour,

If you sponge your ewes then lambing can condensed into a short period of time.

That  is how the explanation goes.  Well there is nothing quite as descriptive as the sight of raddle marks on the backside of the ewes.  As of this tuesday evening all 6 Cheviots are now marked.  Of the 21 jacobs, 17 are marked.  of the 4 left; 2 had lost their sponges so expected in the next 2 weeks, 1 we think had a partially retained sponge.  the remaining ewe will hopefully be tupped overnight tonight.

I took the ewe that we thought might have retained some of the sponge (very tight when withdrawing and at the time was reasonably convinced that not all came out)  to the vet.  The vet did her best to find anything but it was all a bit tight in there so nothing definative.  It may be that there is none in there but if there is we will just have to wait until the hormones wear off.  So chances are she won't get in lamb this year which is a shame.  Still the important thing is that she will probably not have any ill affects.

stats suggest 85% take in the first cycle.  As this year we are planning a very short lambing it is likely that we will have to wait until January when the ewes are scanned to get the news.