Sunday morning came, the day of the sale. Ironically I managed to pen 7 out of 8 of the ladies in the morning. I used the goats as a distraction and they were so hungry that even the leader sheep, normally on the lookout, just went for it and was tucking in with heads down as I made my move and closed the pen. Heart racing, I got in with them and had a good look close up. I touched them for the first time! The fleeces were caked with weeds but they had no dags (poo on bums) and they looked really healthy and actually like they had grown a lot which is weird because they haven’t had that much to eat!
The buyer came with two of his under 25 volunteers. He has such a big open heart, it seems to soften everyone around him. I forgave him lateness, being short with the money and not having a decent 4 x 4 to collect the sheep from the paddock! He seems to suck people in with his enthusiasm, desperate need and vision for the zoo he is creating.
We ended up putting collars and leads on the sheep and walking them to the horsebox at the gate! They did not come calmly but at least there was no chance of them running away. I suggested carrying them but we tried it and they were heavy! He tried carrying them on their backs with two people one holding the front legs and one the back legs but it was too hard and insecure. He said they were obviously not used to being handled and were the wildest he had seen.
There were two Nubian wether goats(castrated billies so they have a friendly temperament) in the horsebox waiting to greet them and make them feel safe. I felt happy about the whole thing. The weight already felt like it was lifting from my shoulders and I knew they would be happy roaming free with a pack of other sheep and some alpacas in west Hertfordshire.
He came up to the see the yurt after we’d loaded them and on the way asked if there was any chance the ewes could be pregnant because it seemed like one was lactating! Well I told him the story of their escape into our neighbour’s field on the first night they came and how they’d managed to get through stock proof fence to join their flock of Texels at tupping time. But we only joked about it, thinking it very unlikely that anything happened.
Well, it turns out all of them were pregnant! I got a call late that night and a vet had examined them saying they were all very healthy but also with lamb and you could actually feel he lambs inside them. It’s very unusual to have a Shetland /Texel cross. It’s like a Great Dane and a Chihuahua mating. It is possible and people do it to get bigger lambs for slaughter.
He was really glad because he wanted to grow the flock anyway, he just needs to keep an eye on them more than he would have done.
So in two months’ time we would have had lambs in the pasture. I am sad to miss that opportunity but not sad to miss the stress of being a first timer, up during the night with both kids and adding ewe rounds to it, plus going to work as a supply teacher during the day! There will be a better time for us.