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NEWS - February 2019

keeping-feet-warm

January, an unpredictable month, some mild days quickly followed by horrendous high winds, snow and freezing rain. A difficult time for animals like our sheep, who are now all wearing their winter woolly fleeces. Thick fleeces are perfect for those icy cold days, not so good when the weather suddenly turns milder and they can't take their jumpers off.

The same goes for the horses, all kitted out in late autumn in their waterproof, cozy, lightweight rugs, enough to keep them comfortably warm during the milder weather, but when the blizzards suddenly arrive!!

Then it's a question of catching sixteen big horses, unbuckling them out of a soggy, mud covered garment and getting their fleece lined heavyweight rugs on while they fidget about complaining of the cold.

lambing-season

It's also the month when lambing begins in earnest.

Ideally, to make the most profit for the farmer, lambs need to be ready for slaughter, fed off grass, round about June. No records are kept of how many lambs die during the lambing season due to weather conditions, snow, days on end of icy rain and gale force winds. These lambs die from hypothermia and dehydration, many will be carried away by foxes.

Spring lamb is demanded by the public, so farmers are going to keep on with the practice of early lambing. Every year we have lambs brought in to us by members the public who have found them abandoned in fields, already half dead with no mother in sight. Although we're not wishing for it to happen, if it does, we are ready, we have bottles, colostrum, lamb reviver, a heat lamb and lamb jackets, and the prospect of many sleepless nights to come, it's just one of the reasons we're here.

goats

At the end of January we said goodbye to four little Pygmy goats who we'd been keeping in quarantine conditions for their owners. Due to a previous error with their export papers, noticed just five days before they were due to travel to their new home in France, they weren't allowed to travel. They had no option but to go on ahead and travel without them while our Vets sorted out the problem, we had an empty stable, so Hamish, Rocket, Nutmeg and Freddie came to stay for a while.

Apart from a bit of bullying they settled in well in their isolation stables, but, like all goats, particularly Pygmy boys, they could be challenging at feed times. Standing up on their hind legs with horns lowered in a threatening pose was normal, as they then still only came up to just above the knees, not much of a challenge.

winter-quarters

Thanks to two Trusts, The Shirley Pugh Foundation and the Marchig Animal Welfare Trust, we were given the funds to purchase two more field shelters from Finer Stables. Most of our paddocks now have shelters in them, which makes us all feel much happier knowing that whatever the weather so many more of our animals will have shelter from the elements.

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