Jonathan: It’s now late autumn and the wind is a just a big bully, standing in our way and pushing us hither and thither whichever we we turn. And for good measure it will bring with it a blustry shower to soak us through. I’ve not got much done outside since I got home Sunday night. There’s been enough to do indoors for now: sorting through accumulated post, making arrangements for taking sheep to abattoir, collecting some lambs I’ve bought …
Early in my week at home in Uist recently I was supposed to be taking the five Hebridean wedders/wethers to the abbatoir near Lochmaddy. The day before Denise and I agreed that the young ram lamb would have to go too, as we had no means to manage him properly. I got everything ready the day before to transport them early in the morning.
Morning came and Denise and I went over to the croft to drive the sheep into the fold and extract the sheep we’d be taking off. The sheep had other ideas! It became apparent that during my six weeks away a fault had developed with the electric fencing and not only was the dividing electric fencing not active, even when I reactivated it the sheep were completely unafraid and ducked and dived through the gaps! Even with Iain Ruaraidh’s help (a near neighbour in Bun a Mhuillin) we hadn’t a chance. We had no choice but to cancel.
Later in the week, thinking about re-scheduling the trip to the abbatoir to November, I realized we urgently needed to get the young ram out, or otherwise he’d start to take an interest in any female, his sisters or aunts or mother or whatever! In the end I asked my neighbour Seonaidh MacInnes, who not only is very experienced with livestock but also has sheep dogs, and asked his advice. No problem, he said, he could get the ram out. But rather than take him to the abbatoir, why not put him on a small island between Eriskay and Stack: he was going to take some sheep down to Stack and could drop him off on the way. He’d have to stay there until the spring (that’s the ram, not Seonaidh!) but the grazing was good, and though the weather might be wild it would at least toughen him up: Hebrideans are supposed to be a hardy primitive breed!
So, let’s hope that goes smoothly! But I’ve still yet to organize the wedders off to the abbatoir, and a tup for the ewes, all in November.
Jonathan: Further report from home. Denise arrived at croft this morning to find ewe back with the rest – just her lamb still on the wrong side. Opposite of what I’d have expected, since gaps tend to favour the small and lithe, not the big and rotund. Best not to dwell on that, not a good time for base assumptions to be challenged. Anyway, Denise turned off the electrics, opened up all the ‘gates’ in the dividing electric fence – and the little one trotted meekly back to its Mum. And to think this is my breeding stock – in a few years time I could have dozens of sheep all with the same genetic propensity to wriggle under or somersault over electric fences.