There has lately been a lot of practical farming being done. Kevin 1 and Kevin 2 (my husband and a friend of his), have been fencing a bit around the fields. It is a hated and heavy chore, definitely not made any easier by the amount of rock around the place (read Stony Gardening and you will understand). You can be assured that any time you try to push down a stake, you will hit a rock.
Another task, coming into the summer, is the sheep’s yearly hairdressing appointment, the shearing. As Kevin’s back has at him and he’s been walking around like an old man for weeks, we were very lucky to have the other Kevin’s help. I wasn’t looking forward to handling and turning the heavy ewes on my own.
I almost missed the shearing and the very taciturn shearer was in the middle of it when I got back from town with the kids. The sheep had been all penned in the shed, Kevin 2 grabbed one at the time as and handled it over to be sheared in rapid succession with an electrical shearer.
Grabbing the sheep was probably the most difficult task, once the shearer had it on its back the sheep went limp and let him get on with his job. Quick, quick, quick and done in no time. Next!
It is a real pity that the wool is pretty much worthless; a “waste product” the shearer said. I will bring it up to a mill and what I get will probably just about cover the cost of the shearing, which is fine I guess. I will probably keep one fleece, as I have a friend that has offered me how to spin with a hand spindle. It will hardly be a project for an Aran sweater, but it would be fun to try it out. Felting is probably an easier project, but I just love learning anything.
The sheep we have are of meat or milk stock, and their fleece is primarily used for carpets or maybe house insulation. They are by no mean bred for their wool. As I understand it the finer sheep for good wool not only have a fine fleece, but also have a longer hair which facilitates the spinning.
Once they were sheared the sheep looked relieved and happy. To the rest of us they looked very skinny and bare, but in the weather we have had lately, it is really the best for them. The lambs, which were not sheared, look huge in comparison. In fairness, they are pretty big lambs, which will be a good return for us.
A few days after it was time to deworm them. I noticed, and was quite disgusted, red slug-like worms in the faeces of one of the ewes. A clear indication of parasites in their bowels. So again, they were penned and an oral dose was given to each of them. Kevin pushed it down their throats with a large syringe, giving each of them a few seconds of discomfort.
Apart from these few chores, plus keeping a check on them every so often, there is little less that needs to be done with the sheep these days. I check them every few days, to make sure to note any worms, maggots, foot rot, or other discomforts they may have. They are thriving in the fresh grass and feel a lot more comfortable in the strange summer heat we are having.
It is just as well they require less attention, as my focus has been on other new animals here at Casa Ceoil. You might have seen a sneak peek on our Facebook or Instagram pages, a fluffy yellow duckling. That story though is for another blog post.