Our new ram, Stones, is a Wiltipoll, a fine self shedding white sheep. Most of our Dorper ewes, also self shedding, are white with a black head. The lambs were born in April/May & came in all colours: pure white, black with a few white streaks or piebald. Once again I ended up with 2 lambs to bottle feed who bonded so well together that they are still inseparable.
By October all the lambs were weaned & growing well.
However, as the autumn rains came late & then we had a very cold wet winter so the grass grew slowly. The sheep therefore were struggling to feed themselves & their lambs. The conditions were also just right for the parasitic intestinal worms burden to thrive, so it was inevitable that some of the weaker ewes died. That is the nature of things in life.
Sadly in March we had to say goodbye to our beloved Shadow. He is greatly missed but is resting peacefully in the paddock just down from the house with a Jacaranda tree planted on his grave.
With our geese now being a flock of 12, we took up the offer to rehome some of them to Wills Domain, a vineyard near Yallingup. Having got them used to eating grain, we lured them into a spiral mesh trap, threw bird netting over them & managed to catch 6 birds. They were quickly put in carry cages, whilst the remaining 6 were most upset at losing their relatives. Henry, the old gander, was amongst those to go & on his release went straight over to the resident geese to assert his authority, the other 5 taking time to get to know their new home. We were left wondering if we still had a gander, but it became apparent that we did when the mating ritual started. In October we had 3 healthy goslings roaming the paddocks with some of their family, leaving 2 geese still sitting on eggs.
The resident Mountain ducks have raised 3 offspring to adulthood this year, though lost several ducklings along the way to predators. We caught sight of a hawk taking one, though it dropped it so that the drake was left to unsuccessfully try to revive it.
The rabbits have bred up again: in the forest, around the house, along the creek & up at the hayshed, However Ella has a love of hunting them. She is not fast enough to catch the adults but has now dispatched over a dozen “teenagers”, sometimes needing a little help when she has them bailed up. Because of this new found interest, we took her to a snake avoidance class. It was an interesting exercise which we hope will keep her safe.
Because Stones loves his ladies so much, he didn’t like being put with last season’s weaner wethers & it wasn’t long before he got through fences to be with them again. We now have the prospect of ewes dropping lambs at any time in the next few months. Those weathers have now been sold, so Stones was put in the House Paddock with some maiden ewes to keep him happy. In recent weeks we have had 2 ewes drop lambs & we are currently helping one lamb learn to suckle his mother. She has a low udder with very large teats that he couldn’t find. We have finally got him sorted, but in the meantime have been milking the ewe, then getting him to drink the milk from a bottle. The ewe has been very patient with all this, sensing that we are just trying to help. Hopefully they can be released from the sheep yard into the paddock, where the lamb can have a playmate.