Tag Archives: Sheep

Yeah, You And Whose Army?

Fizz has been having a few problems with the livestock today, I’ll tell you about that in a minute. The day starts with feeding the animals.

It’s probably best not to mention what Fizz had for breakfast, that might have been what started her off.

BreakfastEven before Fizz gets fed and before it gets light, the early bird gets the worm.

European RobinThe Robin tried to land on my arm last night but it was getting dark and I didn’t see her coming, so suddenly there was a lot of fluttering as she tried to perch on my arm and taken by surprise, I moved my head quickly and I think that I said, “Hello” and I scared her off. This morning we were friends again.

There have been a couple of notable birds on the feeder this week. Long-tailed Tits have been here for the last few days. They don’t visit very often so it is nice to see them.

Long tailed titThey arrive in small flocks and feed together. I have counted eight of them on the peanut feeder at the same time and you can hardly see the feeder for feathers. A very beautiful little bird.

Long tailed titThere was also a Woodpecker on the feeder today. I haven’t seen a woodpecker since the little ones fledged last summer so I am hoping that she will start visiting regularly again.

Goldfinches are back in their charms. They disappeared late in the summer when the thistle seed appeared but they will stay here now.

Then it was time to feed the Sheep. They have really taken to this idea of being fed and when they see me they come running, it doesn’t matter if I have got food or not, I might just be taking the Dog for a walk.

This is a rubbish, short video but you will get the picture.

I cut the video so short because the camera was shaking, I wasn’t scared, just common sense really.

SheepThey are eating pellets, well it says “Sheep Food” on the sack that I get them from.

They are all enjoying their food except for that white one at the front, that one is always focused on me. I think that this must be the Bull Sheep (if there is such a thing). It is the one that I observed in my last post and it is always in front and always the first to approach me.

Bull SheepAs Fizz would say, “Remember this face.”

The BullIt says she is number 00127 on the green tag but I just call her “The Bull.”

So I went back and fed the birds some more and played with Fizz in the garden. Then I was cold so I went and got some breakfast and coffee.

Then it was time to walk the Dog.

Remember that I said it doesn’t matter if I have got food or not, they come running when they see me.

That ArmyOh! That army. Col! They’ve got an army.

You can stop that.

Bull SheepThe Bull is interested in my Dog as well as me.

Well, I rescued Fizz from the Sheep and we had a nice walk and a game of ball, on the way to the woods to check the trail camera.

Fizz

FizzNow I would like to have some kind of reference to nature in my blog posts. There is not going to be a wildflower bit at the end of this post because I have been having major problems with my new operating system. It is fixed now but it took me all day yesterday and I am behind.

One little nature observation though…

Wild ArumWild Arum, Arum maculatum is coming into leaf everywhere. We won’t see the spathe until April, it spends a long time as a leaf but it is still nice to see another little sign of spring.

Wild Arum

Wild ArumThings are not going well up in the woods. The camera has been out for four nights and all we have seen are Foxes.

This is a very nice Fox but I have watched 150 videos of Foxes and I wouldn’t mind seeing something else.

That was just one video that I more or less picked at random. It has a nice atmospheric sound track.

As we walked back to the farm we could see them all waiting for us.

The GuantletIt was time to run the gauntlet once again.

SheepThere were familiar faces in the crowd.

Face in the crowdI think that I better lock the door tonight when I go to bed 🙂

If I should go all wan and pale…

This is a post about my relationship with sheep and how they have changed my life.

I have recently adopted a vegetarian lifestyle but it is not because I don’t want to eat sheep. They are delicious and I could chew on this baby until the cows came home, it is not that.

Blue Texel

(I couldn’t actually eat this one. This is a ewe being raised for breeding. The farmer buys them for £50 lets them mow the grass for a year and then sells  them for £100. That is what happens on this farm and then they are used to breed lambs for the next five or six years)

I would have no problem eating this sheep because over the last year I have observed the quality of life that these animals experience and it is good.

Their lives are not long but the time that they have is a good time and if we are going to eat meat at all then this is the way to do it.

Lambs are born and they have a close bond with their mother. They grow up and spend their lives with their mother. They form bonds with the other lambs and play together in the meadows. They have a close social bond with all of the other sheep in their flock. If you put two flocks in the same field they each stay with their own, so they must recognise each other and have some relationship. They have acres of space and they are cared for.

It is watching this that has brought home to me that all animals should at least have this much and they don’t.

Blue TexelsMy vegetarian stance is a stand against intensive farming. I have not become a faddy eater, If I come round to your house I will eat whatever is put in front of me  (hopefully that will be roast lamb) but I don’t want to buy it or have animals mistreated on my behalf when I can manage quite well without it.

It just became too difficult to sort out where my meat had actually come from so I decided that the simplest thing was to give it up completely.

So what does it mean…. “going vegetarian?”

On the face of it, it looks pretty grim.

Veggie BurgersI am a good cook. For many years I did all  of the family cooking. Preparing food for others is a way of showing love and I take to it readily. These days I live alone and most of the time I can’t be bothered to spend a lot of time in the kitchen when it is just for me.

I tend to make myself a pot of stew or casserole and that will do me for two days with a nice roast chicken that quickly becomes a pasta or rice dish. It doesn’t take much time.

One of my favourite dishes until recently was pork belly, beans, peppers and chilli (hot chilli) and I would serve it with a big dollop of cottage cheese straight from the fridge. The contrast of the cold cheese and the burning chilli was delicious but I don’t do that any more.

I have had some good success making sausage casseroles with vegetarian sausages. They are proving delicious and spicy. I really couldn’t tell that there wasn’t meat in them.

Last night, for my supper I had baked sweet potatoes with goats cheese and salad. That was a strange combination of flavours a bit like salty chocolate that didn’t quite hit the spot for me.

I haven’t tried these next two yet.

In case you are new to vegetarianism I will tell you what I have found out.

TofuA Tofu is a small South African antelope that vegetarians are allowed to eat. It doesn’t look bad but I haven’t got it out of the box yet.

Sea SlugA Quorn is a Sea Slug without feelings. I can’t say that I fancy this one but I am ready to give it a try.

There is probably a lot more to vegetarian cooking than this but I have to start with what I know.

Anyway I am doing it for them. Every animal that ends up on our plates should have something of a life first.

Blue Texel

Blue Texel

Blue Texel

Blue TexelIsn’t that right Fluffy? 🙂

If I should go all wan and pale it might be because winter is coming and I may lose my tan.

The Private Life of Sheep

Sheep can sometimes be a little bit annoying and so I have decided to move the Badger Cam.

Just like any other animal they quickly learned where to find the food (but you eat grass!) When I picked the camera up today I had sixty sheep videos before dark and another forty  in the morning. Amazingly I also had forty Fox/Badger videos from the night. Watching these sheep eating my bait for two hours before nightfall it is hard to believe that there was anything left for the wild animals.

I have condensed my one hundred videos into three short clips. You don’t have to watch them but you will understand sheep better if you do.

Little Darlings. This next one is getting over familiar with my camera.

They do give the impression that they might be smarter than badgers, perhaps they are just more curious, less cautious.

So I am going to leave those Badgers alone for a bit and go and look at something else. Fizz and I went out for a walk yesterday and we found an amazing nest,

Starting from the beginning, it was an overcast day and we decided to go and look at  the main sett. We haven’t been up there for some time because the path became seriously overgrown in the summer and it was unpleasant to try and beat a path up there, It has died back a bit now.

This is what it looks like today, it is still quite difficult to pass in places. There are parts where I have to carry Fizz because she can’t get over the thistles and brambles.

Jungle TrackIt is not the growth that is the real problem, it is the insects that swarm and buzz around us. After a time of swatting when they are really close and getting them out of my hair and off the inside of my glasses it begins to feel like a war zone.

Jungle TrackSo forging through brush that we haven’t seen for a while the first thing that we noticed were large areas that had been flattened.

Resting place

Resting placeBig animals have been resting here or hiding out. Wild Boar or Deer perhaps. I don’t suppose that any people have been up this track for quite a while. This isn’t a pleasant country stroll, you would have to have a reason to walk this path. Perfect for wild animals.

We checked out the Badger sett and everything seemed fine here, plenty of signs of activity.

Badger Sett

Badger Sett

Badger SettThen about fifty yards beyond the Badger sett we came across this nest.

Mystery Nest

Mystery NestWhat sort of an animal makes a nest like this?

A Mountain Gorilla maybe or an Emu? We don’t get a lot of them around here. I really don’t know and so if anybody does then please tell me.

Mystery NestMy stick is about three and a half feet long, I just put it there to get an idea of scale. I could not see any fur, feather or eggshell or anything like that but I didn’t want to mess around and leave scent there in case it is still in use.

Mystery NestSome effort has gone into making this nest. The straw has been brought here from nearby farmland, there is no material like this naturally here.

The nest is out in the open and offers zero protection from Fox or Badger of which there are a lot around here, so it is not for raising young.

Mystery NestSo guess where the camera is. It is watching the nest plus also watching the track to see what might walk past.

Mystery NestI think that this is a day nest of a Wild Boar. They do make nests to lie up in, especially at this time of year but I have never seen them do anything like this.

Here is another of life’s little mysteries.


We know that it is a Fox it’s all the other animals that we can’t identify. This video was from early evening, the clock was not set on the camera just ignore that. The picture is so bright because it is still daylight and the infra red has kicked in.

Finally a last look at my own wild animals. There still was food for them after all that sheepishness.

Pretty Little Things (1 of 3)

Have you got those sheep photos for me yet?

It is not that easy. He has very specific requirements.

Number One: No natural behaviour (Number ones or number twos)

SheepIt is not easy to get fifteen sheep posed together with none of them doing something that they shouldn’t. Plus there are five lambs mixed in with this flock and he doesn’t want any of them in the pictures.

No lying down. (this is a lovely group shot)

SheepNo heads down, they must have their heads up and be looking at me. (This is a beautiful sheep, I would date this sheep)

SheepAbove all they mustn’t look sheepish. (Fine that should be no problem at all)

SheepHeroic Sheep that can sell themselves.

Sheep

Sheep

Sheep

Sheep

Sheep

SheepLovely  Whatever I do they still look like sheep to me. (This is proving a very difficult assignment.

Here are some sheep behaving very naturally. Wandering down a busy A road in the forest.

Sheep

Sheep

Sheep

Sheep

SheepThere is an ancient law that says that people who live within the forest have the right to graze their sheep on common land and that means that they just open the door and let them out to go wherever they like.

These were wandering down a busy road about an hour ago when I went out to get my local paper. I have no idea how they get them back again.

It is nice to have sheep wandering about though it does help to slow the pace of things.

Lambs Tails (Part one)

From my kitchen window I look out on a lovely pastoral scene. The sheep have been brought down to the orchard to allow the grass to grow in the fields above. That land will be let in the summer for grazing. My landlord is a retired farmer now and he just keeps small flocks of sheep to keep the grass down.

1This was a dairy farm until the TB outbreak of 2002. After that my landlord gave up and retired.

Obviously there are conflicts with having Badgers on the land and a history of bovine TB and it is better if the Badgers keep a low profile but the 2002 outbreak had nothing to do with Badgers.

In 2001 there was a major foot and mouth outbreak in the UK. Movement of animals was stopped and hundreds of thousands of animals were destroyed. When the panic was over the government relaxed testing of imported animals to allow British farmers to restock. They stopped testing imports for bTB, Hundreds of thousands of untested animals were brought into the country and the following year there was a TB outbreak. No Badgers were involved but mud sticks.

This isn’t going to be another post about Badgers though, this is going to be a post about Lambs tails. My next post on this blog is going to be about the flowers and catkins of the Hazel tree and before I write that I thought it was important to establish my credentials. so Lambs tails.

It all started on March the 6th.

2

In a small flock of twelve black faced cross breeds we knew that three of them were carrying lambs. They were brought down to the orchard and cared for and soon we had newborn lambs.

3

4The three ewes produced five lambs and they were a lively and noisy bunch.

5

6

7

8Everything was good in the world and it felt like springtime.

On the fourteenth I was going down to pick up Fizz for a walk when my landlord stopped me and asked for my help with something.

9Unexpectedly a fourth ewe had a lamb and it was a weakling. Half the size that it should have been, it couldn’t stand and it couldn’t feed.

10I held the lamb upright in my arms while he forced a tube down it’s throat and we fed it. When  I gave it back to it’s mother it was able to stand for a while.

11But the farmer wasn’t going to sugar coat things for me. The lamb didn’t stand a chance. That is just the way it happens some times and there was nothing that we could do about it. The sun was shining and it was a beautiful day, we decided that it was best to let it die quietly in the sun with it’s mother, it wasn’t in pain.

We went out to see it that evening, it was lying on the grass on it’s own.

12It had got out of the orchard and so the farmer asked me to pick it up and put it back in the orchard with it’s mum and he would clear it up in the morning.

When I picked the little animal up it’s body was stiff and rigid and I knew that I was carrying a dead animal.

That evening the lamb’s mother made a heck of a noise. They normally go quiet when it gets dark but I could hear her bleating for hours. I thought that she was keening for her loss but she wasn’t.

She would not give up. She was calling her lamb, forcing it to get up and come to her and she kept it up, she kept the lamb moving.

The next morning I took Fizz off to the forest. I didn’t bother looking for the lamb, I had no doubt at all that it couldn’t have survived and I just told myself that everything must happen for a reason, I just couldn’t see what that reason was.

When we got back that evening they  were there, the pair of them and the lamb was feeding. I couldn’t believe it, I rang the farmer and told him but he wouldn’t believe me.

“I am taking it’s bloomin’ photograph! It’s alive,” I said.

13I had to go and get him and he had to touch it before he would believe it.

Even then he would only give little lamb a few days at most but the lamb survived.

14I like to think that I had a hand in that animals’s survival, that first feed must have been crucial but really it owes it’s life to it’s mother and her absolute determination that it should live and her refusal to quit.

Two months on and it is a healthy little lamb, still only half the size of the other lambs but it chases around the field with them.

A good mum.

16So now you understand that I know a little bit about Lambs Tails and I feel qualified to write my next post.