Tuesday, February 28, 2012
The sheep are back on the croft now, as lambing approaches. It is good to have them close by, and to see them out the window. We have five now - we were given three by kind and generous neighbours, looking to reduce their stock numbers, to add to our original two. They are mostly blackface or blackface/cheviot crosses, and the new girls are fairly experienced mothers. (The ram is a cheviot, so the lambs will not have horns.) As our two were first timers, we were glad that there would be some role models for them.
We decided to have them scanned - really so that we knew what we were dealing with. It is our first lambing season too, so we wanted to know if we had any multiples to be looking out for.
Scanning is a community affair, although not everyone participates in this. Those who are, take their expectant sheep to the appointed place - in this case, the barn of one of the crofters in the village.
And here they are - the anticipating ladies. Reminds me a bit of the ante-natal clinics I used to attend when I was expecting my older children in the 80s and 90s!
While we waited for the scanning man to arrive, we headed indoors for a cup of tea and some amazing home baking. Of course he arrived in the middle of it all, but I am afraid I lingered in the kitchen, blethering, and eating scones, so there are no photos of the event, only the packing up afterwards. Apparently though, he sat on a machine rather like a motor scooter, and the sheep were passed into the gap in front of him, and were quickly scanned and pronounced "Single - Empty - Twin".
Everyone discussed their outcomes - one had a lot of empty sheep, but this was balanced out by the number of twins - another was very concerned that an older ewe was carrying twins. We were happy with our results though - 4 singles, 1 empty, and now we can look forward to mid-April when the lambs will be born.
And then, back home - only Maddie Beag carries the blue mark of barrenness. Not totally unexpected - she was still very frisky, and small too. In fact, it is debatable whether she should have gone to the ram at all this year, but we couldn't have kept her separate from the others on her own. She can try again next year.
So now we just wait. I have been to a lambing course, I know what to do in an emergency, and, oh my - what a lot can go wrong! Fortunately the sheep don't know all that, so hopefully they will just do their thing when the time comes, and all I will know about it is seeing those tiny white woolly bundles jumping around.