Friday, 2 April 2010

Full House!

Like buses, you're waiting for one and two come along together! Now we have two black lambs born a few hours apart.

Though this one below doesn't appear to have a head - but neither does its mother. Oooerr...

The weather has been sleety and cold - not as bad as in many parts of Scotland, but unfortunately bad enough for us to lose two lambs through hyperthermia. This is the price we pay for lambing outdoors, but it also keeps the island sheep tough and hardy.
Another sad piece of news - our big old Swaledale ram (Picture of him on blog dated Thursday December 18th 2008) died suddenly this afternoon. He was over six years old and did well for us. Our first lamb this year was one of his. We bought him a couple of years ago from the Auction Mart in Stornoway and, if we hadn't bought him, he would have ended up in a tin of dog food. He was a great character, if a little on the agressive side (he was the one who held me hostage in the byre at the end of last year!).
On a brighter note, yesterday was the first day of the season for Scalpay Linen and we had a visitor in, which was very pleasing. We've still got a lot of cleaning up to do but the shelves are filled, there is a linsey-woolsey taking shape on the warping mill and its all looking good.
Opening hours are Monday to Saturday 2-5pm until the end of September. So if you're passing, do drop in.

4 comments:

dancingbeastie said...

Lovely to see the lambs - even the rather Gothic headless one! Their coat looks very well suited to Hebridean weather. Is Hebridean wool very coarse? What sort of thing do you use it for? Reminds me a little of Herdwicks. A couple of years ago we were in the Lake District and I was surprised to see imported fluffy white sheepskin rugs for sale. The shop owner said that Herdwick fleeces used to be used for carpets, but that you can hardly give them away now: most are just burnt. Ho hum.

SheepMama said...

We lost last year also an ram. But we also have pretty lambs from him. Life and death - that's life. All the best for you and your sheep.

Scalpay Linen said...

Hi DB - the Hebridean fleece is finer than blackface and has a lot less kemp in it. The softness varies according to how it is processed. We send ours mainly to Natural Fibres in Launceston who make a fine job of processing and spinning it up for weaving, and the resulting cloth is far softer than Harris Tweed. It's a shame that so much of the UK wool clip seems to be ending up in landfill or being burnt, but prices are very low. There seems to be an upsurge in keeping rare breed sheep that have specialised wool - like Wensleydales - so maybe that is where the market is going now.

Scalpay Linen said...

Hi SM - like you say, life and death is very much part of farming and crofting. But its always easier to accept a death when you know the animal has had a good natural life. Today we have a new batch of little chicks and more new lambs, so the circle of life moves on...