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The Circle of Life

It's been a very busy and emotional week at LambWatch HQ as we run up to the first day of the shepherd's calendar: tupping time!

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!


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Well at least you have had time to sort out who you want breeding with whom this year.It will be great to see lots of lambs bounding round the fields next year. Good Luck in all you do.

Dan, this is a wonderful update! So interesting to find out what's going on, who's with whom, and when to expect lambing. Thanks for posting it all. Still sad about little Bridget, but life goes on. And is that frost on the grass in the one photo? Thanks for the update.

Notice how Bridget's face changes colour in the summer months.

Yep the second frost of the autumn in 2017. More to come this week. Magical wandering around in the morning after a frost like that. Very ethereal

This is lovely Dan - very informative in a 'chatty' way - thank you!

Blasted cold even if it does look lovely.Just been out in a taxi and the temp in the taxi was 10c so cold enough for me to rush back home.

Thanks for the update Dan .very interesting 😊

The tups have now been in with the ewes for just over a month, so they've had two "rounds" of opportunities to cover the ewes. We will be leaving them in with the ewes until after Christmas, just to make sure!