Saturday, 25 July 2009

Shearing ewes and a clutch of chicks

The shearers came on Wednesday to do the 'milk clip'. Our regular shearer is from Connel outside Oban, and he arrived, just after breakfast, along with his daughter (who rolls and packs the fleeces) and a female shearer from Somerset in England.

Every year they stay (camp) in a bothy up a glen for the time they are on the island. They bring a specially adapted shearing trailer that has a race for driving the woolly sheep up to the 2 shearing stances. Most of a shearer's day is spent bent almost double wrestling with frightened animals and carefully but speedily removing their wool - hard hard work. They earn every penny they take home. They sheared over 300 ewes and were finished by late afternoon.

The flock had been sorted out the day before and the ewes kept indoors in case of rain over night the night before. You cannot shear a wet ewe without giving yourself alot of extra work trying to dry fleeces properly before packing into the giant woolbags.

A noisy reunion that evening in the fields around the cow shed, where the shearing takes place, once the shearing was over - as the lambs and ewes 'mother up' before going back to the hill. Each bleating their individual call to help them find their mother/lamb - x 300!

The hoggs had been sheared in June (and as a consequence of being shorn they turned into gimmers), but there is another story...

At this time of year our hens lay a varying number of eggs as some of them are rearing their chicks and others well they are just having a rest from egglaying. We give any surplus eggs to our guests in the Treshnish and Haunn Cottages.

One young hen (a year old cross from the leghorn cockerel that came from Tobermory Childrens Farm and a black rock hen who had come from the Isle of Skye) had completely disappeared and we had to assume the worst - that a mink had got her. But when strimming the long grass in our garden the other day Somerset found her sitting on a clutch of eggs.

2 days ago she appeared proudly with a family of 12 chicks to re-join the hen community who free-range the farm yard - and sometimes visit the holiday cottages gardens. All day she roamed around the yard proudly clucking and scratching and moving them on until we managed to steer them all into a coop and run for imcreased safety. She had nurtured those eggs for 21 days - through all weathers and against all odds.
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