A little bit sheepish

It’s that time of year again,  when a sheep farmer’s mind turns to planning ahead.

counting sheep

These days I rent my land to a local farmer.

Since April  there’s  been a large number of sheep grazing up here, however, despite my attempt at counting, I’m still unsure how many there are!

“You know you should go to sleep when the sheep you’re counting start to hit the fence!” ~unknown

Each morning the farm manager spreads a dried food supplement on the ground, checks the sheep for injuries and drives around the perimeter of the fields, checking for strays and gaps in fencing.

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Feeding Time

Last week the Tups arrived, two of them, two fine, strong, healthy rams.  The presence of tups will gradually bring the ewes into season, making them receptive to mating.

Each tup wears a dye pack strapped to his body and when he mounts one of the ladies he leaves behind the colour of his dye. The dye colour along with the details of the tup will be recorded with the tag number of the ewe. Farmers are required to keep strict records of their sheep and normally sheep farmers keep several tups so that inbreeding can be avoided.

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Tupping has begun, and is clearly shown here by the first few lucky ladies.


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One of the tups wearing his bright blue strapping.

I’m uncertain what colour dye the blue strapped tup is carrying, and although it’s clear he’s been rubbing up against those yellow rumps,  I think it’s pretty obvious which one has been doing all the work around here.

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I often wonder how the selection process is decided. Does the ewe choose her own mate? Does she choose the oldest tup, as in the most experienced, on the other hand, could it be the younger tup, does he have a chance as he makes the first tentative advances, or does she not mind and will simply accept either, ‘first come first served’? No pun intended!

The farmer decides and arranges the tupping season on when he wants the ewes to lamb, and now we know that next year the lambing season will begin towards the end of March.

  • Tup – an uncastrated sheep, a ram.
  • Ewe – a female sheep that has had her first lamb
  • Gimmer – a female sheep in her second year but before she has her first lamb
  • Hogg/hogget – either sex until about eighteen months old
  • Lamb – a sheep in its first year
  • Mutton – meat from an older sheep, and becoming popular again because of its flavour – my advice always slow cook.

© nansfarm.net 2017   In response to the WP daily-prompt  ‘Tentative’

13 thoughts on “A little bit sheepish

  1. Loved your comprehensive sheep farming story. My Auntie Phil(Splinter), married a sheep farmer. Their farm was down near Freshwater Creek, along Blackgate Road, and I thoroughly my stays out on “The Farm”.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. gc

    There was nothing sheepish about your wonderful article Susan.

    From now on when I can’t sleep I will try counting lamb chops hopping over a fence pursued by a spoonful of mint jelly.

    Love the creative way you present your articles in a fun and informative fashion.

    From now on I can truly state that I only have eyes for ewe. xxx 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. emn

    I have no livestock experience, so your post was quite informative and fun. (I enjoyed the pun!) Clearly, animals have a leg up on humans when it comes to such things. No shame or embarrassment on their part. Just colorful rumps and males in brassieres dotting the landscape. Again, evidence of your vibrant life on Nan’s Farm. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. No shame at all and they are totally ignored by the rest of the flock. A third tup has arrived, more competition. Tupping will continue for a number of weeks until all the ladies have coloured rumps. So far only yellow ones. Thank you Ethel.

      Like

  4. Pingback: Let Sleeping Vets lie – Not here though | Nan's Farm-Inside Out

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