One of the very few advantages of this truly gruesome wet and cold weather is that, having brought our sheep back inside there is an opportunity to give some of them an MOT. This includes our rams.
Currently I have 11 working adult rams.All of them are quiet characters, but independent you might say! It took 2 grown men to hold each of them yesterday while I gave them a pedicure and, (my least favourite job on the farm!) dagged out their bums. After being outside on lush grass for 3 weeks they were running in muck and if I don’t clean them out now it sets hard as concrete round their fleece as it grows and causes endless problems.
“Hold still you b…!” was a typical soothing phrase I used on a few occasions. “I don’t think he likes you interfering with his nether regions!” one of my helpers piped up. Extreme understatement as there is absolutely NO doubt the rams felt their dignity was seriously compromised – and in front of their mates as well! Not good for ram-bo street cred!
I shall treat them with a preventative for fly strike as soon as there is any prospect of dry weather for a few days and then hopefully I can turn them out and let them enjoy summer without the need to disturb them again.
Turnover crates are used by some farmers to do this work (do exactly what the name says – sheep walks in, press a lever and the sheep is turned upsidedown) and while they seem incredibly attractive to those of us with aching backs, they don’t work well with horned sheep apparently so until I can afford to import the Australian versions which are designed for Merinos, I shall rely on my 2 men folk for help!
Later in the day I worked quite hard on the other end of the wool chain – in connection with my role in The Campaign For Wool I was sourcing a commercial knitting company for someone and talking to 2 people with ideas for promoting wool. I regard myself as very privileged to have both ends of this incredible chain in my hands at times. Both are precious and delicate – one end because you are dealing with living, sentient creatures, and the other, because often you are dealing with people’s dreams and ambitions. “Handle with care” is my motto for both ends although sometimes that can involve being quite tough!