Posted by: kathandroger | June 27, 2015

Silly Swallows and the shorn sheep.

I understand that there are less and less swallows visiting the UK. Happily the opposite seems true here, and we have had several pairs in the outhouses on the farm. The first brood has already flown from my workshop, and others are starting their flying lessons. For the first time a pair have nested in the equipment store, getting in above the doors, a tiny gap that I thought was impossible for them. The problem was that I could not see any signs of a nest, until an enlarging pile of bird poo on the floor gave the game away. Unlike the more conventional stuck on nests in the other barns, this couple have built on a precipice of the crumbling mud and straw ceiling.IMG_3114The problem is that bits of the ceiling have been falling down for years, and with the increasing weight of the occupants we are worried that it will all come to a disastrous end. I don’t want to interfere with supports in case the parents desert the brood, so we will have to keep fingers crossed.

Rosemary the sheep has finally been caught and shorn! The errant ewe made the mistake of burying her head in a tray of bread morsels, and with one bound I trapped her and the other sheep in the purpose made enclosure. The others found their way out, but no way was this female going to escape me. I managed to grab one hind leg, and then the other, but she is such a big fat girl that turning her over took all my pathetic strength. At last she was on her back, legs in the air and soon trussed up with bits of rope around her feet. Now shearing could begin, but having escaped last year, her fleece was not tidy to say the least. All her daggy bits (wool covered with months and months of excrement)  had to be removed with scissors first. The first assistant shearer normally performs this task, but she was doing much more important jobs such as cleaning the gites, so the lone shepherd performed this heroic task single handedly. She was then ready for the electric shears. This tool is efficient, noisy, fast, and extremely dangerous for the skin of the animals. The skill of the shepherd is minimal and relatively unpractised, so there were a few skin nicks before the huge fleece finally left its owner. We have had problems in the past with fly strike and maggots in skin wounds, but now have some lovely aluminium spray from the vet, which costs a fortune but does a good job by covering any injury with a pretty protective metallic coat. So she was not only relieved of her two year old fleece, she was beautified as well. A sparkling tribute to the shearers craft, except that the experts don’t nick the sheep and take a couple of minutes per animal. Rosemary’s hair appointment took about an hour! She didn’t even look grateful, but I must admit to a feeling of pride at having outwitted a dumb animal!IMG_3118


  1. That metallic spray could come in handy for those blokes who prefer to shave the old fashioned way!
    I might get some for Nick (no pun intended!)

    • Jean, it was a pleasure to meet Nick at the Irish night on Saturday. Sorry to have missed you, and look forward to seeing him again, perhaps with a silver beard!

  2. Shouldn’t the title be “Silly Swallows and shorn the sheep”….?
    Sorry, I think it’s the heat….

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