Praise be to shepherds and their sheepdogs 29th December

I don’t normally write this late but I am on a high from the unexpectedly wonderful events of the day! My last post was a bit of a downer so it’s only fair to report the ups. I’m writing by candle light which is extremely impractical. Our usb headtorches are all dead, the car batteries which powers our 12v system are all dead and the solar panels are in the part of the field which only gets about an hour out of the shade at this time of year (if that). I refuse to use the generator to power our electrical devices. Its noisy, smelly and polluting. I am grateful we have had it to power drills and my hairdryer sometimes and I’m hoping to use it for le blender when things get easier but they are motorised tools which the 12v system couldn’t charge anyway.

So I went off to my new friend’s flat to do some work today. She is away seeing friends in Australia for a while and kindly offered us the use of her flat and we pay for the extra in the bills. I was hoping to finish the website, create the planning scheme for the market garden and try to source a trailer to move the sheep. When I walked past today, they just seemed to be dejectedly staring into space. I was all out of ideas.

So I got in touch with my horsey friend to pick her brains about using a trailer. She confirmed that the ground is just too muddy but she put me in touch with a local sheep farmer who said he’d help us out.

This blessed man drove over to us with his sheepdog, son and Hilux pick up. They just got on with it like the experienced professionals they are, laying the electric fence down in the current paddock and having the dog herd them into the new paddock. It was actually a bit less smooth than that. Four of the sheep did their best to evade the new paddock and went sprinting off up towards the gate but it was ok the dog overtook them and brought them back. Once they were all in we closed the gates and turned the fence on and the sheep immediately settled down and started munching away on the grass. Oh Happy days!! They only have to stay there now but touch wood I think they are too scared of the electric fence now to want to risk a shock getting out. They’ve got just under an acre there and afterwards we can just make a paddock adjacent which is straightforward.

Our saviour refuse tea but said he’s come another time and invited us up to his farm in the spring to watch the lambing and castration.

I watched them as the sun went down and thought about how your animals have the capacity to put you in heaven or hell.

The farmer said you have to be three things to be a sheep farmer; mad, hard and tough.

I think we definitely qualify for the first and last but I know I’m not the middle one and I’m not sure I ever want to be. So why are we keeping sheep? I needed them to manage the pasture, I wanted to experiment with rotational grazing, the goats weren’t interested in eating the grass and I’ve always wanted to spin and dye my own wool.  I do like the taste of lamb and think I could fatten some up for slaughter when the time comes but I think I’m tending more towards finding the right breed of milking sheep and having a mixed goat and sheep microdairy making speciality cheeses. Pecorino, chevre etc.

When I got back Jon said a strong gust of wind had blown the outer yurt roof cover up and it had flapped over the window in the centre. He’s fixed it now. I took the goats for a walk and when I got back, another chicken had been taken from the electric fence paddock. I’d left it off and a slight gap in the gate stupidly. It was sundown and the foxes must have come again so that 3 left now out of 13. You can’t be lax for a minute now. At least he took the chicken away for his dinner and didn’t just kill for the fun of it. Saoirse thinks that they have just wondered off to another farm.

I will sign off for now feeling so grateful for good friends and good Samaritans and a bit more hopeful of our future farming prospects..

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *