I am having a daily fight with broody hens....clogging up the nest boxes, breaking eggs and generally being a bit too 'mumsy' in general.
Lambing is over....or is it?
Some of you may remember my talking about my oldest ewe,Longface, who had 4 lambs two years back and 3 last year. (Estimated lifetimes lambs =26). Last year (aged 10 or more) her milk failed.....so last autumn she was retired and kept with the lambs (well away from the rams).
The story of this old girl is that she was bought from a neighbour along with a batch of 'old ewes with a season left in them' (essentially 6-7 years old). After producing triplets, neighbour came round and marked those 'for slaughter' who had no teeth/bad udders/sunken backs etc. Longface had the red mark. She stood by my side and rubbed her head on me...."I don't think so".....so,clipping shears on fleece with red mark,and, hey presto green mark. She went on to have 3 lambs the next year, 4 the year after, 3 last year and now is about 10-11.
The rams walked past old Longface and her friends when they were being taken out from the breeding field in November. Longface was by the fence,clearly in season , so we pushed the rams on and over to a field at least two fields distant from Longface with a "Not this year,beautiful". So the winter came and went and I have been busy with lambing. I have seen the old girl less often than usual.
Two weeks back, old Longface was using her 'begging bleat' from a distant field(reserved for when she wants digestives or custard creams). Having not really seen her much for a couple of weeks , and feeling guilty, over I went with a packet. "WHAT????" says I when I saw her....always fat,she was, well ,VERY fat
I escorted her to the field near the barn where she has been with my bottle lambs since, growing daily.She clearly had different ideas about being 'put out to pasture' and must have had a visit from a neighbour's ram. Now I am watching and waiting.....not knowing how many and when.
So...broody hens can be tough, broody old ewes also.