Saturday, 9 May 2009

A Sheep and Chicken Day

Today the island sheep were moved from the crofts - where they have been safely grazing all winter - to the common grazings. The north side population was moved yesterday evening, and the south side, which includes ours were moved today.
On Scalpay, because we have the open township system of grazings whereby no-one encloses their croft, and sheep roam free to graze where they like, most of the husbandry activities like dipping, shearing and moving are communal with all the stock owners involved. Everyone who has stock owns a dog, and they all work together to clear the crofts.
The picture above is of some of the sheep coming along the road being joined by others coming up from the shore and down from the hill behind the houses.

This is one of some of them going out through the gate on the main road. This year we managed to get all the sheep along the road and out onto the moor before any traffic came along. If the sheep stay calm and keep moving along they follow one another - the older sheep remember where they are going and the younger ones follow on behind. Because we live nearest to the grazings gate, I was in charge of making sure the gate was open at the right time and had to make sure that no sheep got past the gate and escaped up the road! My husband took the dog and gathered sheep with the others.

Bramble the dog worked very well but got muddy and had to take a shower when she got home!

Also today, we bade farewell to three of our hens who are starting a new life in the Bays of Harris. They are all of Araucana extraction - one pure bred lavendar and two crosses but all lay the characteristic blue eggs.

Two of our other hens have gone broody ("Clucky") so we put one of them went under a fish box for a day or two to get her out of the mood, and the other one we put in the nest box with six eggs under her.

Here are the eggs - all different. One araucana, two frisian, one buff orpington, one naked neck and another one we couldn't identify. So if we get a hatch, it should make for an interesting mix!

This is mum, protesting loudly at being removed from her comfy basket in the hen house where she was monopolising a space and preventing other hens from laying.
Now she's in solitary confinement she can concentrate on incubating the eggs for the next 21 days.
So, not much weaving today, but plenty of crofty stuff. We've had hail storms, rain, and warm sun in equal measure. The cuckoo has been cuckooing for about three days here now and duck down in is great demand for extra special soft nest linings for starlings and robins alike. Now the sheep are on the grazings, or confined in fields, we can look forward to some plants growing around the loomshed. It's 9.30pm BST and I'm watching a lovely pink and orange sunset out of my window.

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