Sunday, 25 July 2010

Rolling fleeces picking blackcurrants

A huge fleece held up by Farmer in the doorway to the cattle shed.

The shearers finished off the last few ewes on Friday, so that is a big part of the summer sheep work done. The lambs were given a treatment against fly strike and they are all now reunited and back to the hill. Some years the shearers have come with someone prepared to roll the fleeces as they are dropped from the shearing trailer by the shearers. This year, at short notice, they were left in a heap, on a tarpaulin (to keep them clean) to be rolled at a later date. A job to add to Farmer's list.

The rolling trailer.

But this morning Farmer decided he needed to get it over and done with - so he reversed the tractor and trailer into the cattle shed, and used the trailer as a rolling table. With the wind up radio blaring and sheep dogs at his feet, he began to roll. Some time later he was joined by a willing young assistant who picked up the loose fleeces off the floor and handed them over to Farmer to roll, until the pile was gone. Each bundle was then stuffed into a huge wool bag, and sewn up with a huge needle.

Fleece number 301 - the last one of the day.

The shorn sheep are let back into the field where their lambs are noisely bleating and mothering up commences. Several hours later, when the field quietens down, you know the mothering up is mostly done and that it is safe to open the hill park gate and left the hill sheep drift slowly out on the hill again. Open that gate too soon, and they will mis-mother which you don't want.

Meanwhile a race is on in the garden to pick the heavily laden blackcurrant and gooseberry bushes before the cheeky blackbirds and sparrows get them all. The berries are perfectly ripe and very sweet. And for the first time in our life with this garden we have a rabbit or two - I think they are living under the old caravan, which incidentally is very good for starting seeds off in, in a cold spring - no slugs or snails, and lots of gathered sun warmth.

Time does not stand still on a farm, and living on an island means you have to think ahead, so even though it is only days since Fly died, we had to start looking for a replacement, as being the only sheepdog on the farm was too unfair a responsibility for Cap. At the end of the gathering for shearing he was totally whacked. Adverts in the Scottish Farmer have never been successful for us, as it arrives here late on a Friday, and by the time you have rung up about a dog, it has just been driven out of their yard.

So the obvious place to look is the internet, and that is what we did. In fact, we went back to the person we bought Fly from in the first place. A very long day trip took us there and back, it was one of those totally clear sunny bright days when the landscape shines in the strong positive light of sun, blue sky and white puffy clouds. Scotland looking absolutely Sunday best. Even waiting for the ferry at 6.15am was a joy. We had several bitches to choose from, and came home on the last boat with a lovely natured one called Jan. So a new chapter begins.

And here are the pet lambs, rushing in for their evening handful of nuts.

We have been seeing good numbers of basking sharks in the bay, sightings we never tire of.
eXTReMe Tracker