Baled out!

We finally make hay but not in the sunshine…

What a difficult month it has been with regard to haymaking!  We started out with high hopes for August, thinking it would be filled with long sunny days.  How wrong can you be?

There wasn’t a day went by at the beginning of the month when it didn’t rain.  Sometimes not a lot, but just enough to dampen our plans.

As the month wore on, we were getting desparate and in the end settled for baling on an overcast day, so the hay wasn’t as dry as we had hoped, but not sopping wet.

We couldn’t risk storing it in the barn so stacked it outside and covered it with tarpaulins, which is not that easy in the strong winds.  Each morning it had to be uncovered so the sun and air could get to it.  Every so often we were caught out by showers, some so heavy we were soaked through trying to get the tarps back on!

Thank goodness it’s all done now and we have winter fodder for the hungry beasts.  The goats have sampled it and declared it edible so we should be OK with the sheep.

The dogs are delighted too as they have their field back and see where they’re going when they chase the swallows.  The babies have fledged the nest so there is plenty to keep them occupied.

We are also busy sorting the ewes ready to receive the tup and preparing the lambs for the mart.  This years lambs are our best ever and we are expecting top prices.  Let’s hope the buyers agree!

Rain stops hay!

We are rained off

It’s always a stressful time when haymaking comes around.  We are glued to the weather forecast, looking frantically for that small window of sunshine when we will be able to cut the grass.

This year has been appalling, every single day, except one, the heavens have opened and the field has been drenched.

For the last few weeks we have all been weaving our way through the long grass on our morning walks.  We can’t play with the Pullers as they would quickly be lost.  In fact, we have lost the dogs on more than one occasion.

The shame of it is, that this year the grass looks fantastic and would make lovely hay, if only we had the opportunity.

Even with a day of sunshine, it’s not going to dry the ground enough to drive the tractor over.

We are trying to hold our nerve and wait until August to see if the weather improves but if it doesn’t we may have to ask our neighbour to make large round bales of haylage.  These will be wrapped in black plastic, therefore not needing to be dried.  We are really hoping we don’t have to go down this route as the large bales are difficult to handle and have a short shelf life once opened.

However, it would be better to have haylage that no winter food at all for our beasts!

Muzzled!

We are worried when Jack falls ill

Jack has always been a bit of a chewer and a scavenger.  He likes to pick things up and before you can tell him to “leave it”, it will disappear down his throat.  Back in August last year, he swallowed a piece of rubber ball and had to have surgery to remove it from his gut.  Not long after that he was poorly again and we rushed him straight to the vet for an x-ray.

We realised that we couldn’t keep this up so decided that the only way to prevent him “snacking” on his walks, was to put a muzzle on him.

He wasn’t keen at first but he quickly got used to it, and after a while he developed a technique that turned it into a useful scoop to get things into his mouth – like snow or sheep poo!  He was also very adept at using it as a weapon on the other two, Daisy and Archie.  We called it his “warhead”!

After several months without incident we thought we would try him without it, as we really didn’t enjoy making him wear it, even if ultimately for his own good.

A couple of weeks of freedom later and he had severe diarrhoea.

We starved him for 24 hours then fed him cooked chicken and rice for a couple of days, but it made no difference and we were off to see the vet.

His temperature was on the high side of normal so the vet gave him something to get his gut working, a wormer, and suggested we carried on with the bland diet.

Over the weekend he didn’t improve at all so we took him back on Monday morning where he got a steroid injection and had blood tests.  We also had to provide a faecal sample.

Still no improvement, we were heading towards another x-ray but decided to wait for the test results.  In the meantime he had a course of steroid tablets to make him more comfortable and we were cooking him fish, chicken and rice every day.

All the test results were negative, we couldn’t find the cause of his ailment, so the vet put it down to colitis.

Just as we were at the end of our tether, he finally began to improve and is now back to his normal self, but with the muzzle reinstated!

 

The Keystone kids

The kids prove to be very agile

When the sun finally fought its way out from behind the clouds and the rain stopped, we took the dogwalk out into the field for the dogs to do some training.

Daisy was the star, showing the other two how it should be done, before they all raced off for a well deserved game.

For a bit of fun we put it in the field where the kids were enjoying some fresh air with their mothers and it was an instant hit!  We couldn’t keep them off it.

You can see their antics in the video below.

Jack seems distracted…

Jack seems distracted in a clicker training session

During an impromptu clicker training session with Jack in the field, teaching him to go around a pole in the ground, we noticed that he seemed to be a little bit distracted and kept wandering off unexpectedly.

Whilst it is true that he does have quite a short attention span, we were near a livestock pen at the time and at first we assumed that he was more interested in the livestock than us. In fact, the real reason was completely different.

This is what happens:

Please excuse the poor sound quality.

Jack likes working for treats but he really responds to praise and attention too, so we try to use a combination of both to keep him interested.

We noticed that he would only wander off after we verbally praised him and gave him a rub. At some point in the past, we have inadvertantly taught him that the praise and belly rub marks the end of the session. Rather than being distracted, he is simply heading home because he thinks it’s all over.

We may need to fade that behaviour if we intend work with him for more than 30 seconds at a time…

If you enjoyed this video, why not subscribe to our YouTube channel?

Daisy and Archie with the Puller

Daisy and Archie play with the Puller exercise toy

Here we have Daisy and Archie playing with the Puller Exercise Toy for Dogs.

The Puller has been designed with exercise and stimulation in mind, and just 3 simple exercises – running, jumping, and pulling – over 20 minutes will provide a workout for all of your dog’s muscle groups, and is the equivalent of 5km of intensive running. Perfect if you like to keep your dogs in tip top condition.

This video shows the Standard size, which should be suitable for most dogs, but Mini and Maxi sizes are also available.

Today though, we are taking advantage of another feature of the Puller – it is great fun to use!

Daisy and Archie certainly love them!

Kidding about

We relax into kidding

After the stress, lack of sleep and vets visits that accompanied this year’s lambing, we were pleasantly surprised by the lack of fuss over kidding.

Firstly, we knew the exact date that the goats had visited the billy so the due date wasn’t guess work, and secondly they usually get on with it on their own.

Even so, we were taken somewhat by surprise when Lulu kidded 3 days early.  She wasn’t interested in her food in the morning so we knew something was up.  By 11.00am she was laying down pushing and making a hell of a racket (sheep rarely make much noise at all).  Not long after that, she popped out two kids, one of each and was soon cleaning them up.  She had plenty of milk and was happy to let them feed.

A few days later, Betsy started, again a day or two earlier than planned but she followed a very similar pattern, giving birth to another boy and girl and requiring no assistance from us.

When the kids were just a few days old we took them to the vets for disbudding so they won’t be sporting horns like their mothers.  All four recovered quickly from their ordeal and are growing rapidly into cheeky little minxes that you have to keep your eyes on as they are constantly on the lookout for trouble!

Our other goat, Lily, also visited the billy but some time after the first two, so she missed out on being scanned.  If she is pregnant, she will be due in early June so we are looking forward to that and after the recent successful experiences, very relaxed about it.

Daisy tries a Slow Feeding Bowl

We change Daisy’s bowl to a Slow Feeder

Daisy is a very fast eater, and tends to bolt her food down at an alarming rate, so although her mealtimes are usually without incident, we decided to change her to a ‘slow bowl’ to help reduce the risk of health related problems. Bloat, for example.

Although there are a number of circumstances that might lead to bloat, many of which may not be fully understood, this is a fairly easy change to make.  We also modified our routine a little some time ago to allow more time between feeding and exercise.

There are several slow bowls available, but we decided on the Trixie Labyrinth Feeder.

See how she got on…

Geraldine

We say farewell to an old friend

Back in 2005 we went out to collect a second hand chest freezer and came home with 3 sheep and 2 pigs!

One of those sheep was Geraldine, a real character.  Having never owned sheep before, she taught us a lot and gave us our first ever lambs.  It wasn’t long before we were hooked on the woolly beasts and built up our own little flock.

She had been hand-reared so she was pretty tame and would go anywhere in pursuit of a bucket, so if we wanted to move them about, we would use her to lead the way.  The others, would always follow.

She got into so many scrapes, like the time we found her stuck in a drainage ditch.  She squashed out of a small gap in the fence, in search of greener pastures.  We hauled her out and soaking wet, she laid on the ground.  The only way we could move her was in the bucket of a tractor.  Unfortunately, on the way back to the shed, the tractor got stuck in mud, so we had to abandon it and wheel her in a barrow!

With careful nursing, she recovered.

Another time, we went out one morning and found her flat on her back with her legs in the air.  We thought she was dead, but no, not Geraldine.  Once again the wheel barrow came out and we tucked her up in a warm pen and nursed her back from the brink.  She had twin lamb disease.

Then there was the huge abcess that came up on her face.  She received plenty of tlc until she recovered.

At the end of last year, we decided not to breed from her again, so she didn’t go in with the tup.  We thought she had earned her retirement.

Sadly, a couple of weeks ago, despite more careful nursing, we lost her.  It was very upsetting as we had all been through so much together.

She has left behind many of her offspring, we have daughters, granddaughters and great granddaughters.  Some of them have her sassy attitude but none have as much character as her.  She was definitely a one-off.

We miss her dearly but she managed to instill in us an enduring love of sheep.

Goodbye Geraldine.

 

Director Daisy and the Dog Videocam

Daisy films an afternoon walk

The Eyenimal Dog Videocam is a small cylindrical video camera that fits onto your dog’s collar or harness, and records activities from their point of view. We tried one out with Daisy, one of our GSDs.

Once fully charged using the USB cable supplied, the camera was fitted to her collar using the bracket. This holds the camera in place but alows you to rotate it to get the best angle – a very useful feature.  The collar was tightened a little to stop it from sliding around her neck, and off we went.

Daisy’s fur could best be described at ‘medium’ in length, but it is quite thick at her neck and we found at first that it could obscure the front of the camera.

We tried various things to overcome this, the most successful of which was to use a short piece of 22mm foam pipe lagging.

It has been shaped slightly inside to keep the view clear and has a soft feel, so it doesn’t cause any discomfort but is snug enough to stay in place on the barrel of the camera. Short or close coated dogs obviously wouldn’t have this problem.

The next step was to position the camera so that it pointed where we wanted it to – forwards, and with the top of the camera actually at the top (otherwise you would end up recording upside down!).

Because we walk our dogs in the fields we use for our sheep, Daisy has a tendency to move around with her nose low to the ground, which in turn causes her to angle her neck, so it took a couple of attempts before we got the right position. The adjustment on the bracket makes this quite easy to do, and after about the third or fourth walk (checking the footage on a pc in between), we were fairly happy with it. We seemed to develop a feel for it eventually, so even if it is jogged out of place, it can be returned quickly.

Not all of the video gave us picturesque views of course, and there are definitely many sections of ‘blades of grass’ and so on, but overall the quality of the video is good and we found it immensly entertaining to watch her and our other dogs in action. We can also see how it might be quite useful in a training situation, and hope to try out the idea in future.

It isn’t just for dogs either. This camera is supplied with a cap that can accomodate the holding bracket, so you can record with it too!

We have only tried the continuous recording mode, but you can also select motion detect or stationary detect modes.

Here are some of Daisy’s highlights: