Skymuir News - February 2005

Today we separated Eilean from her mother, Briagh. We put Briagh into a part of the paddock which is protected from wind and weather by our open-stable (field shelter) so that the two are still within sight of one another.
We have used this method successfully with almost all of our foals, only Bervie left the yard and grew up in a herd of colts.

The pain of separation was immense to start with, but the allure of fine weather and a bit of serious horse-play with the other youngsters - rearing, snapping, bucking and racing around - soon provided distraction enough, although Danaidh was not at all impressed when the out-of-reach source of milk was sought under his tummy! Even Bettina, with her big tummy, took part with a few running bucks.

Lambs are being born almost daily in the sheep stalls and we have our hands full getting the expectant mums into a lambing pen at the right time. After lambing, the ewes and lambs stay in this pen for about three days until they have bonded in such a way that they will not become separated in the herd.

It can happen that when a sheep lambs, another might lick the newborn dry as a second arrives, with the possibility that the first will then not be accepted by the mother.
If we take a ewe into the lambing pen too early, however, she would be away from the herd so long that when she returns, she may have to fight renewed for her place in the hierarchy.

Because our herd is made up of only 20 ewes, it is very important to us that every single lamb survives and we therefore try to be present at each birth.
It does happen that a ewe lambing for the first time is carrying only one very big lamb and needs help with the birth.

I have experienced that a ewe, following a difficult birth, has lain exhausted on top of her lamb, or begun to lick the lamb after a short break - and just at that point, there is still a piece of birthing membrane over the nose...