Denise: With the usual Saturday ‘turnaround’ work done, I had a quick look at J’s fleeces, and I have to say I’m pretty impressed. it was lovely to be outside on a lovely sunny afternoon with all the fleeces spread out on the lawn. All of the fleeces are a good size, clean and with very little waste, but about five or six are so good that it would be a waste to send them away for mill-spinning; they are especially fine and soft and long-stapled, and certainly good enough for spinning by hand. So that’s them sorted into two piles for now: one third for our own hand-spinning (with most of the higher sales prices retained by us!); two-thirds to go away for mill-spinning. Well done J!
Jonathan: The unusually warm weather in April caused the natural shedding of a sheep’s fleece to be triggered several weeks early, and as a result some of our sheep have been looking increasingly scraggy. Yesterday evening, with the help of our neighbour Seonaidh and his dogs Bess and Jack, all our 16 Hebridean sheep were rounded up – the tiresome threesome included for once! – and by 7pm they were all secure in the fank. Then we set to work shearing – with hand shears: what a cussed, wriggly lot those Hebrideans are! I may have been slow compared to Seonaidh, but the finished fleeces looked good enough – almost all of in one piece, cut close to the body, and following the natural break line. But I’m not so sure the sheep were so impressed, with quite a few nicks to their skin to nurse (I sprayed anti-bacterial solution on to the wounds, of course). By the time the light was starting to fade at 1030pm we’d dosed them with the milky looking ‘drench’ that keeps fluke worms at bay, and I’d loaded all the fleeces up into the car to take home. At 7:30am this morning I was back to finish the job – the sheep having spent the night securely in the fold. I checked over their feet: for the first time I was seeing some early indications of footrot, so treated for that; and I dosed them all with SpotOn – against ticks, lice and blowfly. And then I gave them all an individual kiss and a cuddle, told them how much I loved them … no actually I just untied the fold gate and they shot out with great leaps and jumps!
Jonathan: The snow has continued on and off all day – we now have more than 150mm and the roads uncleared. No deliveries, so I have now today run out of feed for the sheep and they can’t get to the grass for the snow. I’ve made a make-shift hay-rack and loaded it with straw, and though there’s precious little nutrition in that it’s at least better than the rough grasses these Hebrideans usually make do with. I had intended during this week to move the sheep to the next field, but engineering work has had to take priority. I need to fix the the electric fencing first, but that won’t be possible in heavy snow; and anyway the sheep won’t get to the grass there either. Milder weather would be a god-send, but right now what I need most is some bags of Sheep Nuts!