A few sheep odd-jobs

I had a few pieces of sheep-related work to do today. First of all, I had to bury the lamb that died yesterday. I took it in to the bottom of the croft, where the sandy soil is much easier to dig.


While I was down there, I noticed a lot of water lying on the croft. I haven’t seen this much water on the croft in years.


I blogged before about how wet it has been and also about a new loch that has appeared. It wasn’t too dissimilar at the bottom of the croft, with a lot of water accruing and a stream that has been dry for years flowing again.


You can see that the water is spreading out and not flowing properly, so I cleaned out the stream/drain, seeing as I had the spade with me anyway.



So the water should hopefully drain away quicker now.


I had another quick job to do too. Some of the sheep I moved onto new grazing last week have been escaping, so myself and Innes fixed the fence by putting up a couple of posts and some new fencing.

How impressed does he look at being dragged out of his bed to come help??


Cleaning out the hen houses

As I usually do every week/10 days, I cleaned out the hen houses. I hate doing it, the worst, smelliest job on the croft. I have 3 small hen houses for the 22 hens. 2 of them were painted in the summer but that paint obviously wasn’t up to scratch as it has all but gone within 6 months! I decided to repaint one of them, so got it into the barn today.

Innes came in to help me get it into the trailer. (Which could also do with a lick of paint!)


I then got the hose out and gave it a clean.




It’s now in the barn, drying off, and hopefully I’ll be able to give it a coat of paint tomorrow. I’ll get this one done in next couple of days and then get the other one in drying over the weekend.

I also put up a shelter in front of one of the other hen houses. I rarely lock them up for the night and the prevailing winds hit it square on.


The observant amongst you will notice that the ‘after’ picture is a lot darker, as I went off to do some other work before finishing this.


More of the hens went into this one tonight, as the other one is in the barn.

While we were working on all of this, I slipped on the wet ground – fortunately Innes whipped out his phone to preserve the moment!


The clean up

Yesterday was all about preparing for the first proper gale of the winter and today was about the clean-up. The winds were recorded at 86mph in Eoropie, albeit at a non-Met Office weather station. It was windy. I was out in the Ness FC Social Club last night and got the minibus home around 2.30, when the wind was at its height. The minibus door was struggling to stay closed! Then the power went off just after 3am, with the whole of the Western Isles out, apparently due to debris hitting a substation in Skye. It came back on around 8am though so wasn’t too bad.

Once I got up (I was ‘tired’), I had a quick check to see if there was any damage. There was. From the kitchen window, I could see that some of the metal sheeting I used as shelter for the vegetable plot had blown away.

You can see the sheet against the fence in the background. It is leftover roofing material and tore around the nails.


The remaining shelter had taken a bit of a hit too.


But the biggest problem was that it seemed the sheet hit the chicks’ run and left it damaged.

A couple of loose fence posts, as well as torn netting, meant that I’d have to do something.


The run is just temporary and I was considering moving it on Monday so that was the decision made. I took the chicks into the barn for the weekend and I’ll build a new run on Monday.

I phoned Innes and he came in to help me.


They were soon in the back of the pickup


And now they’ll be keeping the poorly lamb company for the next couple of days.


I had to collect the sheet that had blown away, along with tidy up some bits and pieces, and then I checked all the sheep. They are all fine but I’ll have to do the same tomorrow, as we’re due another gale tonight.

Poorly lamb

I had to take one of the wee lambs into the barn today; it was sheltering all day and not as lively as it should be. I put up a shelter for them yesterday, in preparation for the gale tonight and the lamb lay beside that for most of the day. I took it into the barn so that it would be warm and dry.


It’s a wee runt of a lamb, only kept because it wouldn’t have made much (if anything) in the sales, but it should be ok, if it picks up in the next day or two.



It’s lively enough, eating hay and some feed, so hopefully it will be fine. It’s the silly lamb that got itself stuck in the trough before – funny how it’s always the wee ones that we get attached to!

I didn’t have any straw in so opened a bale of hay to give it some bedding. Since I had an open bale, I gave the rams and the other lambs a wee bit – they seemed to appreciate it!



One of the problems I’ve encountered this year is lack of grazing. I have increased the number of sheep slowly over the last couple of years, but haven’t really increased my grazing. I have enough to get by, but that’s all.

I happened to bump into a guy in the village the other day and he was more than happy for me to put sheep on a part of his croft that is never used.

Here is the croft. The field with the waymarker is one I already use and the one with the blue outline is the new one that I’m using. (Google Maps link here)


The grass is very long on it, probably at least 10 years since it was grazed. It could do with cattle on it first but will have to make-do with sheep.



This video really shows how long/deep the grass is.

Here are the sheep on the croft. I’m not sure why, but I found it extremely peaceful to be there earlier today.


That means that, as things stand today, this is the layout of the land that I use. There is land spread over 5 crofts, the 3 village parks (common grazing) and one apportionment. (Google maps)


Looks like a lot, but not really!


While working today, I noticed the Big Fellow had some…. discharge.

The rams came off the sheep last Saturday and I’ve been giving them a little bit of feed this week. The ram probably ate a little too much and he now has what we call (in Gaelic) spùt (spoot). Basically like the runs but i can’t remember what it’s called in English – sorry!


This can cause an animal to lose condition quite quickly and I’m sure it can lead to death if untreated. Sheep are regularly drenched throughout the year, for either Liver Fluke or Worms. At this time of year, it’s probably Fluke so the Big Fellow got a quick squirt of it.


He is really friendly so was easy to catch. Didn’t bother him and he ran off to join the others. I’ll keep an eye on him to make sure he dries up.


Battening down the hatches

We’re approaching Gale Season in Gael Land. We’re due 70+mph winds tomorrow so I spent a while today tidying up and taking in all the stuff I don’t want to be blown away. 70mph is an above average gale but it does get a lot windier; 80-90 usually happens a few times per winter and 100mph usually once per winter. Don’t expect to hear much on the news though, we’re not the central belt or London so no-one cares!

As well as being windy, it’s cold today too. Everything was frozen this morning so I had to break the ice to let the animals drink.

Ice in the (now-dead) pig’s drinking trough – with magic hammer


Took the slab of ice out


And dropped it!

Because it’s cold and windy, I decided to do something to help the lambs. These are the wee ones that are being fattened up for the freezer next year. I put up a wee shelter to help them through the next few days, as the field they’re in is sheltered from North, South and West but not the Easterly we’re getting just now.





I’ll only have it there for a couple of months but it’ll provide them some much needed shelter.

It didn’t take them long to settle in.


Now to take some peats in for the weekend and sit by the fire!