The lambs are off to market soon, so we have got everything prepared, ready for them to go. The first stage is separating them from their mothers. I’m not sure what the English term for this is, but we call it a’ togail in Gaelic, lifting them from their mothers.
We don’t have any pens on the croft big enough to take all the stock at the same time, so we walked them all out to the village fank. This was quite straightforward, as the ewes know where they are going and need little guidance.
Once out there, we split the sheep & lambs, before deciding which lambs we are keeping for ourselves. I always want to keep more, my father ends up persuading me otherwise. These are the lucky ones, a mix of ewe lambs and muilt (castrated males for the freezer, next year), who will be staying with us. I’ve kept Cheviots for breeding, along with a couple of Blackface/Suffolk crosses. We’ll see how they get on.
The next job is checking the ewes and deciding which ones have to go. I am sending 15 cast ewes away this year, older sheep that aren’t worth keeping any more, and would probably cause difficulties over the winter. It’s probably the part I hate the most; sending away animals that have served you well over the past few years. I really don’t like it, but there is little economical sense in keeping them.
The 40-odd breeding ewes were then sent out to the reseeding for the next week or so. The ewes & lambs call out to each other for the first day or two, so it’s best to keep them a fair distance apart. The lambs come home and the sheep are on the moor.
That’s it all done then. The lambs & cast ewes will be going a week Monday (26th), for sale in Dingwall the following Wednesday. They’re in a field about 1/2 a mile from the fank (where they’ll be picked up), so it will just be a case of walking them out there first thing Monday morning – and then wait for my cheque.
The only problem after all this is trying to get clean again! All the lambs are marked with paint – and I still haven’t got it all off my hands 36 hours later!