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NEWS - July 2018

nice-hay-800

July, the holiday month, the month of sun, sand and sea. Here at Manor Orchard it's the month of dried out grass, dried out brook and dried out natural spring.

We're now into the 31st day of no rain, and while the lucky ones amongst you are sunning yourselves, having a cooling paddle, we are towing water bowsers across the fields and carrying precious bales of hay out into the fields. Precious as this is hay we've bought in to see us through winter, hay is already in short supply so the price is already rocketing.

The young sheep in one of the fields took great delight in studying the mechanics of the water bowser. Within a short time they found out that by using brute strength alone they could force the fittings apart and then stand around watching 1000 gallons of water gushing out into the cracked earth. When it was empty they all wandered off, bored.

The bowser and temporary water tank in the next field, supplying two of the horses, Flora and Chicle, didn't fare much better. The horses managed to not only disconnect the pipe between the bowser and the tank they also managed to tip the tank at such an angle that most of the water dribbled out around their hooves. One way of keeping cool. Bad horses! Bad sheep!

New Arrivals

forrest-of-dean-sheep-800

A little white faced ewe, one of hundreds grazing in the Forest of Dean, took winter refuge in the garden of a house in one of the villages. Helen, the owner, felt sorry for the ewe and began to feed her scraps, vegetables and biscuits, as she took shelter beneath the bushes in the garden.

She disappeared for a while causing Helen some concern, then turned up again, in the snow, bringing her two tiny lambs with her. Helen now had three sheep to care for, they became part of her family. During the days they wandered out into the forest to graze but always came back on a regular basis for treats which they knew would always be there for them. When they returned from one of their grazing forays Helen realised that one of the lambs had been badly injured, her tail was missing, so was a large area of flesh around the tail area, leaving her with a prolapsed lower bowel. Helen contacted her owner, whose answer to the problem was to cover the area with an antiseptic spray, leaving her very vulnerable to infection and flystrike. He then told Helen that he was sending all three of them to market, it's almost certain that they would all then have gone off for slaughter.

Helen contacted us in a panic, she'd grown very fond of this little family and was prepared to spend the money she'd been saving for a new carpet to buy three lives instead, if she could persuade the owner to sell them to her. A deal was done over the phone, the race was on to collect them before market day incase the owner broke his word, he needed to see cash in his hand, sentiment didn't come into it. They've settled well with us, they love their biscuits, the injured lamb has had an operation to improve the area around the prolapse, and Helen is happy without her carpet, knowing that without her help, three lives would have been needlessly lost.

And finally, one bright, sunny morning, the last of our ewes decided her lamb had been cooking for long enough and it was time for it to see the world. For weeks she was looking so large she looked as though she might be carrying a calf, not lambs, or she'd swallowed a large helium balloon. The ewe, now named Dilly Daydream, lay by the fence outside the kitchen in the sunshine, chewing the cud, enjoying a view of the Cotswold escarpment.

We didn't see her actually give birth, it was Steph who spotted her from her garden. On inspection she'd obviously just had him as the cord was still attached. Dilly gave us both a quick glance and carried on chewing the cud and enjoying the view. Her lamb lay behind her, soaking wet and motionless, totally ignored by his mother.

dilly-and-dumbo-800

After what seemed like an age of hanging him upside down, slapping his chest, pumping his heart, clearing his throat, blowing down his nostrils and finally sprinkling his face with cold water he gave a few coughs and opened his eyes. We placed him infront of mum on some fresh grass and made Dilly move next to him. She began to eat the grass.

She did eventually begin to pay her baby some attention and began reluctantly to clean him, although the looks she was giving us made me think she'd rather we did it so that she could go on eating. He had the longest legs and the biggest ears I've ever seen on a lamb, he spent more time gambolling across the floor than he did walking, he seemed to have no control whatsoever over his rubbery legs. He had to be named Dumbo. Dumbo is now taller than lambs born three months before him, but his mother loves him, and he does now manage to go more or less in the direction he's aiming for without falling over.

dumbo-800

We hadn't planned to bring in pregnant ewes, we hadn't planned to add almost 50 lambs to our flock, and we have stretched ourselves to the limit. But, when a situation is desperate for animals, closing your door will almost certainly mean that their lives will be lost, no turning back the clock, and ALL lives are precious to us.

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