The past week or so has been very busy and emotional for us at LambWatch HQ. It didn't start too well. On the last day of October we noticed Bridget, our lovely and charismatic North Ronaldsay, was not feeling herself. Having called out the vet, and given her some TLC, she sadly died on 1st of November with copper toxicity, something to which, sadly, this lovely breed is particularly susceptible. Although her life was short on this earth (only 2 and a half years), we believe she had a happy one, and we will always remember our lovely Bridget (I liked to call her Bidjit) as the chatty, friendly, and inquisitive little sheep that she was. Rest in peace.

Boulsworth Bridget Boulsworth Bridget Boulsworth Bridget Boulsworth Bridget

But in Bridget's passing we can take comfort in reminding ourselves of nature's balancing forces and that autumn is the season when all of nature slows and closes down to rest. This is an important stage in the circle of life and just as leaves fall from the trees to become compost which enriches the soil ready for the green shoots next year, we, too, prepare and make plans for new life in the shepherd's calendar. And so this brings us onto the second part of this update!

We have spent the last week or so preparing both the ewes and the tups (rams) for breeding! We are pleased to say we have managed to squeeze in four breeding groups and we hope to see the arrival of news lambs from the 1st April 2018, though there may be one or two early birds! Our naughty North Ronaldsay tups are not deterred by a wall, and, on a few occasions, managed to get into our ewes uninvited! We quickly managed to get them out, but time will tell if they had any luck! You may recall that it was Wispa, our naughty North Ronaldsay tup, that tupped a Sheltand last year through the fence!

As of 5th November we now have four official breeding groups: two Boreray groups, one Sheltand group and one North Ronaldsay group. They are as follows:

Boreray Group 1:
Jacob with Flame, Jasmine, Georgie, Gaynor, Fulvia, Flavia and 11 commercial sheep

Boreray Group 2:
Boris with Flora, Fern, Freya and Fiona

North Ronaldsay Group:
Wispa with Lyssa, Thora, Topaz and Flo

Shetland Group:
Lance with Peggy, Myrtle, Meg, Mel, Patch, Winnie, Heather and Daisy

The eagle eyed amongst you may be thinking "What is Flo doing with the Ronnies?!" Well spotted! Flo is a Boreray! We put Flo in with the Ronnies because she is now mature enough for breeding, but is too closely related to our Boreray tups, Boris and Jacob. She needs to be put into lamb or she will become too fat and she may suffer as a result. We didn't get around to finding her a Boreray boyfriend this year, so she is in with Wispa and the Ronnies. We are hoping that feisty Flo will teach naughty Wispa some manners! So if all goes to plan, we will have our first, and this time intentional, Ronny Boreray cross!

Here are some photos of three groups. I haven't been able to get some of Jacob's group because they are all too dispersed! But fortunately, Jacob's group is the one which is being featured on our webcam so you can see for yourself!

Boris's Group (Boreray): Boreray breeding group at Marlfield Farm

Wispa's Group (North Ronaldsay): Boreray breeding group at Marlfield Farm

Lance's Group (Shetland): Boreray breeding group at Marlfield Farm

As well as these breeding groups we have a group of ewe (female) lambs from 2017 all together and a group of castrate and ram lambs. The ewe lambs are separate from all others as are the ram and castrates. We have also managed to ensure "fresh air" between all groups so as to avoid any unintentional crosses with "floozies at the fences"!

Thank you for reading our update and here's hoping for a peaceful tupping season and lots of lovely and healthy little lambs in April!