Ticks

Ticks are not something I have to routinely deal with on my livestock. Yes, the cats seem to pick them up, but I’ve only once seen a tick on a sheep. That was until last week, when I saw two in 5 minutes!

I was drenching & injecting the sheep the day before scanning and spotted ticks on two of them. One under a sheep’s chin and one of the side of it’s neck. I can only imagine that the rest had ticks all over them too. They were all dipped in October, so these ticks have attached since then. The winter has been mild though, so ticks are still active.

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Pickup Disaster

My pickup is one of the most useful things I own. I go everywhere in it and do everything with it. But not for a wee while.

On Wednesday, I was pulling a trailer and my clutch went, completely.

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I was on the main road, fortunately, so help wasn’t too far away. I flagged down a passing van, which happened to be Irish workmen, and they gave me a lift up to my friends.

The clutch was damaged a bit last summer, during a problematic tow of a boat up a slipway. It had been acting up recently but the weight of the trailer was obviously too much for it.

Thanks to Duncan & Donald for getting me and the trailer back home!

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Scanning

I’ve been a little light on posts here recently, mainly due to them taking a little longer to write, and time isn’t something I have a lot spare of!

Things have been very busy since I started selling the eggs but that’s not what this is about, this is about scanning!

A couple of years ago, I posted about an extremely poor scanning and there you can see pictures of how it’s all done. We have the same setup every year, but fortunately this year was a little better for me.

Scanning is arranged by the Lewis & Harris Sheep Producers Association, of which I am a member. The scanner comes over from Aberdeenshire and blitzes 7,000+ sheep in a week. At around 75p (ballpark figure, not sure what it is this year) per sheep, that’s a profitable week for a scanner!

My sheep went through & I had mixed results. Most of it was ok, but I was very disappointed that 3 of my best sheep were empty. I had put them to the Zwartble ram lamb, as a wee experiment, but 3 of the 5 he had were empty. It’ll be interesting to see if he left anything in the other two, or if it was the work of the other rams that covered him.

I had results of 130%, which is ok, although I’d rather closer to 150. What I mean by percentages is that 130 = 13 lambs out of every 10 sheep.

I have now started feeding, all in anticipation of lambing starting in the last week of March – I can’t wait!

Entrails

Don’t look any further if you are squeamish or easily offended.

I was cleaning out the hen house earlier today and was just spreading the new wood shavings when I noticed a hen dragging something behind her. Her intestine….

The other hens were pecking away as I lifted her up, and the entrails, and took her down to the barn. Unfortunately it was a total mess around the rear, so I culled her.

Not nice. Anyone know what causes this?

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Hens & eggs

Just under 4 years ago, I got my first three hens. Today, I’m not aware of anyone in Lewis, possibly the Western Isles, with more than me.

I remember when I was wee, asking my parents if we could get hens, but being told no as the mink would kill them all.

The mink are now long gone (due to SNH eradication scheme) so that meant no ground predators here, just as had been the case.

Anyway, my first three hens came by accident, almost. My cousin Erica was recently married and was building a house with her husband. She had 4 hens at a house they were renting, but there wouldn’t be space for them at her new house. So, in early 2011, I took them on. Unfortunately one had been run over, so it was only 3 of them that made the journey to Ness.

Here they are, 4th April 2011

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I don’t think any of those ones are still with us, but 2 weeks later I got a cockerel. This was him when he arrived, and he’s still strutting his stuff!

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Slowly the numbers started creeping up. People who got no longer wanted their hens started leaving them with me and before I knew it, there were 45 hens!

18 months ago, I moved them all into one largish hen house but by then I had already made up my mind to go bigger.

I had seen a gap in the market for local eggs and kept meaning to give it a go myself. I was selling eggs at work and covering all my feed costs, so knew it wouldn’t be a loss.

Around this time last year, I decided to change the way I worked. After 10 years on committees and supporting local community groups, I decided to take a step back and help myself instead. I’ll go back to the community stuff at some point in the future – when I have the time, energy and patience. In the meantime, I just wanted to do my own thing, so I just went ahead and ordered 320 hens.

They arrived in July and I have been soldiering on with them since then, until this week. After months of selling eggs privately, things finally came together this week and I got into the shops. I had registered with the Government back in the summer and had an inspection in September. That was all fine but I couldn’t get into the shops until I got my labels and environmental health gave the the all clear, which they did this week.

After a sleepless night on Sunday, I got through my inspection at the first time of asking and got eggs into the shops within minutes! This has been one of the most hectic and exciting I’ve had a a crofter, and it’s given me a taste for more!

My eggs are now available in the two Ness shops, Swainbost & Cross, WJ MacDonald in Stornoway, the shops in Tong and Point, as well as the Community Co-op in Leverburgh, Harris.

Make sure you buy some eggs!