Friday, 20 April 2012

We say good-bye to the sheep.

The 150 Swaledale sheep which have over-wintered on our relatively low land (700 feet ASL) have gone back 'home'.   There was a lull in the bad weather on Tuesday morning, which gave them a chance to dry out.  Transporting wet sheep is a no-no as they become much too heavy and also, in close proximity to one another they begin to sweat, which is not good for their long-term health.

They were collected during the afternoon and taken back on to the 'tops' - up on the Buttertubs Pass, where the ground is steep and the hills are over a thousand feet high.   In other words where these hefted sheep long to be.

Since then it has rained more or less none stop here, so I am sure it has been much worse up there in the fells.   But they don't seem to mind.   They were certainly getting very restless here, jumping on walls (and fetching them down), pushing through fences, trying to get out.

But of course the real reason the farmer wanted shut of them was that the grass needs to grow before the over-summering cattle come.   Our neighbour has many of our fields for summer grazing for his Holstein dairy herd and our neighbour on the other side puts some of his beef heifers into some of our other fields.

The Holstein heifers who have over-wintered in our loose housing were set to go out into the fields tomorrow.   They are certainly getting restless and sniffing in the air as they begin to smell that gorgeous grass.   But it has been so very wet here for the past few days and it looks like they may be in for a day or two longer.  I am sure they are sick of silage and want some of the real stuff inside them.

I am going to town now - my regular Friday morning routine.   We were due to go out tomorrow night with friends - for dinner with mutual friends.   Sadly they have both got flu, so instead our friends are coming here for a meal in the evening.   We are going to have traditional roast beef and Yorkshire pudding - so my first job this morning is to look in various butchers for a piece of rare breed beef - hopefully Highland, as we like that the best.

For once it is not raining, but the sky is a bit threatening.   Roll on the sunshine.


Elisabeth said...

The image of those wet sheep is one I find mesmerising. I had not considered the degree to which their wool would hold in all that water especially if hunkered en masse.

A great post, Pat. I hope the rain stops soon for you. For us it is yet to begin.

Heather said...

Hope that cows and farmers - not to mention farmers' wives - soon get the conditions they long for. Enjoy your dinner with friends. I'm sure it will be delicious whatever you buy, but it is hard to beat a favourite cut of meat.

Dave King said...

A lovely post as usual I really treasure the insights you bring. Have a great meal and happy time tomorrow.

Bovey Belle said...

It's been so dry here (for Wales anyway) that Next Door had his dairy cattle out at the beginning of March - when we had that "peck of March dust" which is said to be worth a King's ransom. I can imagine how much your cattle want to get out and how pleased the sheep must be to be back on the bit around Buttertubs Pass which is THEIRS.

We have sunshine, so I have just taken a walk along the river to enjoy it and now intend to sit near to my husband in the yard, where he is working on restoring a little rocking chair.

Enjoy your Friday.

Mo and Steve said...

What a lovely Sheep Tale :)
It is also good to hear the Buttertubs mentioned; I have fond memories of that area from childhood visits.

John Gray said...

you should be having lamb!

Dartford Warbler said...

It is lovely to see hefted animals living contentedly in their "ancestral homes". I always wonder at the way the older animals teach their young about the best places for grazing and water.

It is pouring with rain here as well!

Pondside said...

Dinner sounds delicious!
I hope that things dry out soon so that all the animals can be out and dining in style - grass style.

Titus said...

We had hail today, in the middle of the most incredibly heavy downpour! I do hope that one missed you.
Get well soon to the friends, and I envy your dinner - roast beef and Yorkshire probably one of my very favourite meals. Lots of horseradish!

Here's hoping for a dry spell.

Totalfeckineejit said...

I want to go to Buttertubs Pass and I'm bringing a loaf of bread and a pot of jam with me!

H said...

When I think about it, it's obvious that a wet sheep would weigh significantly more than a dry sheep, but, never having had to transport sheep, it had never crossed my mind before. I also didn't know that they would sweat so much in just the length of Wensleydale. I'm much more informed than I was before breakfast :)

I'd love to be up on the Buttertubs just now!

The Weaver of Grass said...

Thank you for visiting.