Saturday, 12 December 2009

A Day at the Fank

Yesterday we were up bright and early to gather the sheep so they can get their annual check up. This is the opportunity to administer an injection against sheep scab, which can be very unpleasant, is very infectious amongst the flock and damages both wool and meat quality; a dose of anti sheep-tick and fly liquid which kills surface living parasites; and a drench of anti liver-fluke and wormer. Foot problems can be checked for and we make sure that tagging requirements are met.
This year we were all impressed at how fit the sheep were. There was no sign of any existing scab problems, which is a sure sign that our co-operative efforts of the past few years have paid off and the island flock is now free of scab. However, we still have to be vigilant against the infection being brought in from outside.

Here are some of the sheep waiting for their medicine before being released back onto the crofts again. The sheep all know the area to return to - usually the place where they were lambed, and by nightfall everyone was back in familiar territory. The weather yesterday was stunningly good - very clear through cold. Our sheepfold has a wonderful view - it's on top of a hill - and you can see the sea and the mainland of Harris in the background.

Our ram, which we bought from the Stornoway Auction Mart last year, worked well this year too. He got a bit stroppy last week and was starting to chase me when he saw me with the hen-food bucket - one day he trapped me in the byre and I had to wait for ages till he got bored and wandered off so I could get back to the house. Anyway, he's now confined in a field and will shortly be going to a retirement island where he can spend his old age with other old rams with similar interests!

And here's Pippin, focussing on the sheep coming up the road. As it was his first experience of a fank (a gathering of the sheep), I took him out on the lead and we helped direct the sheep onto the track up to the sheepfold. He got to see lots of sheep in a flock, but wasn't allowed to do anything other than observe the other dogs at work. He was very good (most of the time) and joined Bramble in the evening for an extra dinner (you have to be a working dog to qualify for this!)


Anonymous said...

Extra dinner? Heck, I'd watch sheep all day for an extra dinner!

Scalpay Linen said...

OK - I'll let you know when the next gather is - do you prefer Pedigree Chum or Bakers?

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry, I don't roll out of bed for less than a roast chicken...