Those Tartan Sheep

Behind the scenes it has been a crazy couple of weeks of online training

Zoom meetings and a pile of admin as we get everything ready, making sure we are ‘hot to trot’. Preparing for the time when we can safely begin to welcome you all back to stay with us on the farm at Persabus.

Courses have centred around website SEO, social media, brand development, the list goes on. Who knew there would be so many strands, so many exciting avenues, to venture down in the virtual world?

It has led to some incredibly funny moments in the pottery

Exploring video ‘production’, in between flicking away with paint brushes. Finding my mobile phone’s ‘hyperlapse’ and ‘super slow motion’ modes. I did manage to make several mini captures of myself drinking tea and smiling away. Completely oblivious to the fact that I was being filmed. That the camera had indeed, been turned ‘off’ for those moments I was intending to video. The arty, painting ones, where I was hoping to share a bit of my ‘production process’ in the pottery with you all. Only to find later, when I pressed ‘replay’ that instead I had captured all those moments of ‘no production’ and missed out the highly entertaining ones.

In between all of this, lambs and calves have begun to pop out everywhere. The fields at Persabus are filled with new life and those ‘oh so protective’ mothers. It is always an incredibly special time, watching the amazing wonders of nature on the farm.

The Persabus dogs are having to settle for a much-reduced exercise regime just now

Daily runs have turned into lambing rounds for me, minus Ruby dog and Bramble, whose heads appeared to be revolving in a 360% circle when they spied lambs being born close by. This was followed by their noses being firmly planted in the deep grass sniffing out the variety of aromas lingering from the lambing process.

At Persabus we go for outdoor lambing

Our native Hebridean sheep are incredibly hardy. They rarely need a helping hand and are particularly good mothers. Taking themselves off to a quiet, sheltered spot, they give birth naturally. The lambs are tiny, and the mothers are fiercely protective of their young.

The other sheep, our blackface ewes, tend to lamb well on their own, but the Happy Farmer still must keep a very close eye out, as the odd one may need a helping hand. Once in trouble if help does not come quickly a ‘stuck’ lamb can be born dead, and if there is a twin coming behind it, both will not survive. The ewe is also vulnerable to attacks from ravens and hooded crows, who will peck the eyes out of the sheep and lamb. This was a real problem in days gone by, when we had a much larger flock and used to do all the lambing out on the hills. These days, with all the lambing happening in the fields close to the farmhouse, and a much smaller flock, we do not have the same issues. The Happy Farmer can whip round the fields more often, and seems to disappear very regularly, especially if the ‘gin gate’ at the Magic Sheep Lady’s home is open. Her and her husband always offer lots of support during lambing times and beyond, and there is always a hearty welcome as you head over that hill.

Typically, just as spring arrives, and lambing begins, the northerly winds whip up, and we are treated to snow and hailstorms, in between the fleeting blue skies and sunshine. It is a time of four seasons in a day. It is important then, that there is plenty of shelter for the lambs and ewes. If a sheep is in trouble the challenge is to ‘catch’ her quickly, as invariably she will race off, mid-lambing. When the Persabus clan were young, the Happy Farmer would sometimes happen upon one of his young crew, wrestling on top of a heavily pregnant sheep, trying to hold her down whilst waiting for the quad bike to arrive on its lambing rounds. The kids grew up with lambing. It was one of their favourite times. They would be up at first light, woolly jumpers and waterproofs, pulled over PJs, as they accompanied the Happy Farmer through the fields before nursery and school. Their eyes were much sharper at spying any sheep needing help.

We are looking forward to sharing the growing clan at Persabus with you

Thankfully, this year, we have no pet lambs so far, which is a good thing as it means there are no orphaned lambs yet. No lambs rejected by their mother. Over the years our visitors to the farm and pottery have always been a huge help when it comes to bottle feeding any hungry pet lambs. The orphaned lambs love the care and attention of our younger guests. Being so little the lambs need round the clock attention. They are fed special powdered ‘ewe’s’ milk which the Happy Farmer gets from the local vet. The powder is then mixed with warm water before being placed in a sterilised bottle with a special teat on top.

You know spring has arrived when the lambing rounds begin and the days when you get to enjoy a seat on the bench at the front of the farmhouse.

Soaking up the views in the sunshine

On Saturday, as we drank our hot coffee on such a day, we could hear bellowing and roaring coming from across the fields. When the Happy Farmer raced over on his quad bike, one of our new Highland ladies had given birth to the fluffiest little bull calf. Cow and calf were doing well. The mother giving her new-born a good lick all over and gently coaxing him onto his four ever so wobbly legs.

If you do happen to meet the Happy Farmer between his lambing duties

as he stops for a friendly chat from the seat of his quad bike,

Please remember to listen to his stories with a ‘pinch of salt’

He is sure to recount the tales of the difficult births of his Highland cows and then of his colourful lambing experiences. Please be reassured, contrary to what he may have told you, with that twinkle in his eyes, Highland calves are indeed born without their horns. They grow much later. As for the lambs, know they are never born with a ‘tartan’ coat, well not at Persabus anyway.

Happy Lambing.

Until next time…

Wildflower pottery
Ceramics at Persabus
Flock of Hebridean Sheep
Highland cow and bull calf
Sheep and lambs
Sheep and lamb
The Happy Farmer on his lambing rounds at Persabus, Islay