Getting sheep in tip-top condition pre-tupping

Getting sheep in tip-top condition pre-tupping

The very wet weekend, and more rain in the first part of the week meant all the pastures at once became greener, and the warmish weather during the day in the week has played its part in continuing this growth. We have had to move both cattle and sheep, while bearing in mind the need to have two fields available for tupping in late November.

The Demeter inspection went well

I am happy to report that we felt our Demeter inspection went well and smoothly. The sun shone which meant the stock and pastures all looked at their best when Chris took Andy on a farm tour. The talk afterwards through our paperwork was focussed and thorough, and Anne and I felt able to respond to all the follow up questions asked.

I have mentioned the paperwork involved all too often, so perhaps I should briefly say what it is that is involved. As regards livestock, I provide a summary of events during the year concerning, separately, the sheep and cattle. This covers medical treatments, together with numbers born and sold, followed by a description of highs and lows.

Invoices confirming purchases and sales, details of field use and, animal movements around the farm during the year are all examined, as are details of our BD spraying programme, and storage of these preparations.

Some of the paperwork is specific to a Demeter inspection though the Animal Health Plan which also covers health practice and is updated yearly, is needed for all inspections.

Finally, the use of the word ‘paperwork’ needs to be understood to include data held on one of our three distinct software programmes. And, above all else, there has to be a complete ‘paper trail’ behind every report.

Much more fun, in some ways, than you might imagine!

Pre-tupping sheep care

The first three days of the week were much taken up with the sheep. All the lambs were weighed and those that averaged over 38kg were separated from the lighter lambs. As intended, all lambs except for those expected to go off the farm in the next couple of weeks, were drenched following on from the data on worm count provided by our vet. As you would expect nearly all allopathic medicines have a withdrawal time allocated to them. To meet organic standards, we are required to double or treble these set periods in order to ensure no ‘nasties’ get into the human food chain. The periods vary from six to ninety-three days.

The ewes went through a foot bath to meet issues of lameness, and eighteen were split off as unfit for breeding and put in a field with the lighter lambs. With tupping getting ever closer, the rams are getting some hard feed, and the decision will soon have to be made as to which two fields are used for that time.

Dates set for TB retest

Next week two cows will be sold. Otherwise there is little to report. Bacchus is carrying a mild shoulder strain, but it does not seem to be reducing his breeding activity. Without going into too much detail, cattle mating is a strenuous and potentially injurious process for both parties – the meeting of animals of their weight and lack of agility is an ungainly activity.

Dates have been set for the ’60’ day retest for TB, and the suckler herd will likely go into their overwinter quarters after that. One side of the barn has been disinfected as per government requirements, but the other has not yet since it houses the inconclusive reactor. We have now had formal notice that the reactors after post mortem analysis had no visible signs of the disease.

Field activities

Plans to spray this past week had to be put on hold since the ground was too soft for most of the week, and the end of the week was occupied by the inspection and then recovery! New dates have however been set and spraying 501 is scheduled for next Tuesday.

Tim managed to harrow field three, and next week the compost heap in field 9, much loved by lambs and young cattle playing ‘I’m the King of the castle’ will be used to spread in that field. As with medicines there has to be a period of time before animals can be put on ‘mucked’ fields.

Jack’s help is enormously useful

Jack remains cheerful and ‘a very useful engine’ adding each week to his list of skills! The fact that he is more than competent with driving the tractor is enormously useful. His weekends are usually spent off site and involve cycling some distance.

Authors I admire

With the Demeter inspection having been hanging over my head this last week, I turned to recent titles by authors I admire. David Ashton whose writing in lowland Scots requires full attention, and John Harvey and his polished English. Both are well known in other spheres, John Harvey with his poetry and love of jazz, and David Ashton as a writer for radio and television. Inevitably both are authors of crime stories – the genre where today you find the best writing.

As one who has largely been impervious to peer pressure and hence fashion, it is only realistic to accept that few facets of our life are not influenced by fashion. This is as true for music as for clothing. Bach fell almost totally from sight until Mendelssohn revived interest in his music, and hence Bach’s elevation to the pantheon of great composers.

Hummel who in his time was considered as great a composer of Beethoven, Mozart and Haydn and then largely forgotten, is now regarded as perhaps the greatest of the pre-Romantics. Indeed, it was the arrival of the ‘romantics’ such as Schubert, Schumann and Chopin which appears to be the reason for his work being forgotten. Though I had two or three of his works on CD, including his Septet – the one and only piece kept in the repertoire – I was very happy to buy the collection issued by Brilliant Classics – no doubt experts can find fault with the performances, but I am enjoying the contents!

Language of philosophers

Having for a variety of reasons found myself re-visiting a number of 19th century philosophers and reading for the first time three modern ones (one English, one Norwegian and one German), I am reminded of my reservations about the ‘subject’ at the end of my degree course. In most philosophers’ writings, much time is either spent attacking somebody else’s ideas, or interpreting them at length, and a common feature of so many philosophers is their devotion to using language that is virtually impenetrable, if not mystical. Perhaps this is because other ‘sciences’ have now grown, such as psychology, neurology and sociology. For Plato and Socrates, the link to politics was perhaps more crucial than speculation, and questioning about the meaning of life but behind every philosophers’ position, politics still linger…

“Rabbit’s clever,” said Pooh thoughtfully.
“Yes,” said Piglet, “Rabbit’s clever.”
“And he has Brain.”
“Yes,” said Piglet, “Rabbit has Brain.”
There was a long silence.
“I suppose,” said Pooh, “that that’s why he never understands anything.”

Thinking about morals, ethics and meaning has to be one of the most important gifts we can give to young people before they have got too fixed in their thinking, but when approaching the ideas of philosophers, it is crucial to put their writings into context, both historical and personal.

Assuming you hardly need to be re-introduced to John Keats ‘Ode to autumn’ I have chosen a couple of less well-known American ‘takes’ on the subject, one modern and one a century older:

Ode To Autumn By Madeleine Begun Kane

‘The most colorful season of all

Is autumn, which many call fall.

It’s the time when leaves die

In a feast for the eye,

And fat turkeys await their last call’ 

November Night by Adelaide Crapsey 

With faint dry sound,
Like steps of passing ghosts,
The leaves, frost-crisp’d, break from the trees
And fall.

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