Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Water water everywhere! I don't think there is a field in the county that doesn't have standing water laying across part of it. All the animals are fine apart from perhaps wishing it would stop raining, like the rest of us. I have heard reports that in some local areas over 6 inches of rain has been recorded over the last 48 hours.
The Highlands at Prestwick are perhaps the most vulnerable but they are happily grazing away on the higher ground that runs along one side of the fields. Even in dry weather they seem to spend a lot of their time wading up to the tummies in water, just like they do in parts of Scotland really.

Monday, 29 March 2010

Had a tour around all the stock today in the rain, fortunately, unlike us, it doesn't particularly bother them although I am sure they prefer dry sunny days as well! The picture is of some Soay sheep grazing on a Northumbrian water site that Mark kindly took for us. As you can see he is smart enough to go when the sun is shining!

You'll be pleased to hear that Jess is now fully recovered from her op and is now happily terrorising the Labradors again. Every now and the you here a yelp where she has been over enthusiastic and nipped their ears. She is starting to show some 'eye' for the sheep and so it won't be long before she can start training. I think maybe I'll let her update you as to how she is getting on.........I'm sure it will be different to what I think!

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Been out having a look at some heather cutting and checking on the Exmoor ponies on one of our larger sites today. These lovely little ponies are an important part of our grazing programme. They thrive on the larger and 'wilder' areas that require a low level of grazing. They live a semi-wild herds roaming around grazing down the rougher grasses and browsing on the unwanted scrub keeping it in check. They have very thick coats that keep them warm in the winter and are quite happy digging down through the snow to find grazing in bad weather. They are inquisitive little creatures and always come across to see what I am doing when I am there.

As well as the sheep we use cattle and ponies to graze some of the reserves. This picture is of one of the Highland cattle. It was taken on a frosty morning last week. Now who is going to blink first?
Being non selective grazers the cattle add a different dimension to the grazing. They work really well on some of the tougher old grass opening up the sward to let other less vigorous species germinate.

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Wow hyper active collie or what, Jess has been on lead exercise only since her op and boy is she getting frustrated watching the labradors running around. Only a couple more days before she can join in though and I suspect she will get her own back. Her favourite game is chasing them and then pulling their ears........ouch!
It won't be long now until she will be big enough to start some basic sheepodog training which will keep her occupied.....and me! No doubt there will be some highs and lows but I am probably looking forward to the challenge as much as she is, not sure if the sheep will respond with the same enthusiasm!

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

You will be pleased to hear that all went well with the op and Jess is now home safe and well. Lead exercise only for a week..............don't think that will be appreciated! She has to go back for a check up next week and then hopefully its back to normal.

I dropped in to check prestwick carr on the way home, very pretty as it was getting dark a pack of 50 curlews were flying around one of the wetter areas, made all the more picturesque by the highlands standing next to the with a newborn calf.


Some of you may not have met her yet but this is Jess our collie pup who once she has grown up will be working with the sheep on the project.
She is now 5 months old and will begin her training in another couple of months, she has grown a little since this picture was taken.
It is a traumatic day for her today as I have left her at the vets to get speyed. Not an easy decision but as she is not a registered dog and and speying before the first season significantly reduces the change of mammary cancer in later life I felt it is for the best.
She turned on her usual charm for the vet nurses at Croft vets and I am sure she will be well looked after, my only concern is will I get her back or will they be trying to sneak her home with them! She did look rather sad as I left sitting in her cage when I left. All being well I will pick her up later this afternoon / evening.

Saturday, 13 March 2010

The flock is growing again. I went and bought another 10 hoggs (young sheep) yesterday. They are a mixture of Hebrideans and Llanwenog x Hebrideans. It keeps the numbers up to just over 100, replacing the ones we have sold and which some of you have perhaps tasted! I am off to check on them now, it is often the first day or two on a new site that they get up to mischief.

Thursday, 11 March 2010

Volunteers from St Georges have been helping round up the Shetland sheep before dosing them and moving them onto new pasture. They have been feeding the sheep regularly so that they should be easier to roundup, a good theory if it didn't quite go as planned in practice. Did it lads?! However we got there in the end.
Moving the sheep now will give them time to settle into their new home before they lamb in April, when hopefully the weather will be a bit warmer and the grass will have started to grow.

Saturday, 6 March 2010

seem to be having a run of lame sheep at the moment.............not unusual really........but it seems to happen in phases, everything is fine one day and the next several of them are showing signs of being lame. It will be really useful once Jess is trained and can help catch them up with me that will save a load of time. She a bit young yet but another few months and I will be able to start training her. Oh I should explain Jess is a Border collie pup that will be working with me on the project! I'll put some pictures on and tell you more about her later.

Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Busy day today sorting some of the sheep out ready to go out on different grazing sites. I delivered some Manx loaghtan lambs to Tyne riverside country park where they will be grazing the Wildflower meadow on the Battlefield site for a few weeks. When the weather is warm enough for the flowers to start growing they will be moved off until later in the year when every thing has finished flowering and set seed.
Having the sheep here allows the Friends of Tyne Riverside group to learn more about grazing livestock and the management of the meadow for conservation.