Sunday, 3 January 2016

New Year, Same Old Ewe

We squelched our way through the end of last year, and it's a soggy start to the new one. We have mud where we've never had mud before, including, thanks to the three amigos and Teri, in the house. We have standing water where we've never had standing water before, including, to the detriment of leeks and garlic, in the raised beds. Our best draining and only grazing fields are a sodden, sheep trodden mess. The tool shed has become a sponge. The solar panels have given up waiting and shut themselves down for the first time ever. The streams have over-flowed and receded so many times that most of the driveway stones must now be on the beach down at Aberarth.

  Yet as rain continues to fall there is much for which to be thankful. We are not sweeping water out of our home. We are not throwing out sorry looking piles of water damaged furniture and belongings. We are not waiting for receding flood waters to reveal the heartbreaking sight of drowned livestock.

  Our lambs stare at me forlornly from under their mud streaked rain soaked fleeces and our ewes have a look of resigned dissatisfaction at the unending nights spent sheltering in the hedges, but at least they're alive to be counted in the annual inventory required of us by the Animal Health Office. Completion of this paperwork every January never fails to raise a smile. We are required to count our flock and report back with recommended dates for inspection, being dates when we bring the flock down for clipping, shearing and the like. On most days of the year I need only stand at the gate and rattle a bucket to be able to head count our entire flock (unless of course some silly billy has got herself tangled in brambles again). But it seems that when it comes to DEFRA paperwork one size fits all, whether you're a smallholder with a single pet sheep or a farmer with a flock of 300. So once again I tick the boxes, dutifully submit the statistics of my flock of eight and await the visit of the man (or woman) from the Ministry.


Rachel Jones said...

Imagine filling in the DEFRA form each year for your two neutered goats! (I always go to check!) It always makes me smile. Rachel (& Tiberius & Sibelius)

Phil said...

So that answers the question, how many goats make a herd!