All Change

Ahhh, the day we all dread –

when the clocks go forward by an hour (how civilized that it’s done on a Sunday, at least).  Here at the Ffarm it wasn’t only the clocks that changed: we decided it was time for a bit of relocation, relocation…. as the field in which the main flock of sheep has been resident is looking distinctly tired.  So we transferred feed troughs, water troughs, hay troughs; then moved the rams, hoggets & the three remaining pregnant ewes into ‘Caravan Corner’ – a small grassy triangle over which the two massive, gnarled ancient beech trees tower; their gargantuan silvered branches overhanging the drive in imposing display, regardless of the season; roots twisting through the old stone wall beneath as if the trees are breaking free to ponderously walk the land in the silence of the night…… 

The little pocket of land itself (it doesn’t really warrant being called a field, nor even a paddock as it’s a bit of a “no-mans’ land” despite the wonderful, tranquil views) hasn’t had any livestock on it since we’ve been here.  Although grass growth is sparse beneath the trees themselves, up by the caravan there’s plenty of fodder – albeit if only for a few days.  And of course we’ll supplement the little flock’s diet with coarse mix. 

Next we checked over the recently-lambed ewes, who have been housed until their young are strong enough to go out safely.  We were kept busy, docking lambs’ tails & castrating Cranberry. I also treated him for a possible entropion in his right eye as there’s clearly a problem with it; although I’m not convinced it is actually entropion as the lashes of his lower lid don’t appear to be brushing the eyeball, the cause of this unpleasant & painful condition.  But the eye is weeping; & I couldn’t find any other obvious cause of discomfort to the little creature. 

Then Headcase, Jelly, Althaea, Acer & their lambs, were transferred from their pens & out to the freedom & fresh spring shoots of new grass in the paddock behind the house; soon to be joined by Alchemilla, Acacia & their older lambs – although Corncockle, a cheeky ram lamb, was determined he wasn’t going to join in & took quite a lot of catching!

Soon they were all safely in their new field, & in spite of today’s stolen hour time unfolded into one of those tranquil shepherding ‘sheep may safely graze’ moments; a delight to see the lambs gambolling together as the warm afternoon sunshine spilled golden light over the valley, whilst the daffodils danced & the blossom buds bounced fat on the branches of the apple & plum trees in the orchard beyond, the lambs’ bleats puctuated by the sweet, honeyed nectar of multitudinous chorus of wild birdsong. 

Silli, our little silver, one-eyed Maine Coon cat, even caught an early lizard, who was basking on the warm stones of the old wall beneath the beech trees.  He successfully shed his tail to escape her dangerous play – & will live to bask another day, when the warm spring sunshine returns to cheer us.

And as the sun went down behind the hills, dark in the distance; peace descended over the little Ffarm, as by firelight we sat in comfortable quietness to celebrate Earth Hour – when all the lights & electrical equipment are extinguished, to help our precious planet to breathe again.  And, perhaps, the time for those trees to walk…..?

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About LittleFfarm Dairy

The LittleFfarm Dairy Team: Jo - Goat farmer & Gelatiere Artigianale, plus General Dogsbody; Tony - Airline Pilot & part-time Herd Manager, Product Taster, Accounts Secretary, Handyman etc!
This entry was posted in Diary, Life, Livestock, Locality, March 2008, Nature, Sheep, Smallholding. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to All Change

  1. Richard says:

    Even if the grazing is a bit sparse in Caravan Corner, there is nothing better for a patch of slightly neglected pasture than a bunch of sheep for a few days – as you know, their incessent grazing, sharp cleats and droppings are the best lawn mower, scarifier and fertiliser combo going.
    Our half-persian cat brought back its first shrew of the season yesterday – but no lizards as yet!
    Hope your last 3 ewes lamb shortly, are they due soon? – one less job on the list each day.

  2. LittleFfarm Dairy says:

    Hi Richard –

    yes, the sheep are doing a great job – Caravan Corner is looking neater & tidier already! That said, I’d still have preferred to run a couple of head of cattle over it first or better still an Exmoor pony or two, who are excellent at clearing scrubby ground; as putting sheep straight into relatively long grass can cause all manner of ovine foot problems, as we’ve found to our cost in the past. But then beggars can’t be choosers….!

    Another thing we’re finding is that as we manage the land organically we need to carefully plan grazing rotations to ensure the fields are properly cross-grazed & fertilized; apart from different species clearing each others’ parasites it does get to a point when sheep s**t just isn’t sufficient. The land is leached of essential trace elements & nutrients, to the cost of hay crop & livestock alike (a few neighbours’ sheep have suffered repeated prolapses recently, which they put down to lack of trace elements; so summat to be aware of. So far we’ve been OK though – fingers crossed).

    Whilst I was in the military I spent a fair bit of time out in Cyprus, at RAF Akrotiri. Nearby there was a place called the Monastery of the Cats; as a local Saint had brought cats to the island to scourge a terrible plague of snakes.

    Regardless of whether the legend is true, cats are certainly very effective snake hunters. A few of my friends out there can testify to this as they’ve had first-hand experience; with those scary ‘on the chair’ moments when their beloved feline has appeared with an adder for them to ‘play’ with!

    So I’m sure you’re glad it was only a shrew after all (better a mouse though as shrews are such good invertebrate hoovers, roll on another Slug Summer…?) – meanwhile I’m dreading the day Silli ‘graduates’ to hunting in the snake pit wildlife habitat we’ve created at the edge of the wood….!

    The worst thing though has to be that early-morning, revolting squidge-between-the-toes feeling as you find you’ve inadvertently stepped on a little packet of discarded mousey entrails, left on the stairs….lovely.

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