Future Tweed Plans...
From a very early age I have dreamed of being able to create a garment from the very start to the very end of the process. Having my own sheep, harvesting their fleece, spinning the wool, weaving or knitting the yarn and creating a finished product. My long-term goal is to have the fleece spun into yarn which I can then use to weave tweed on my Hattersley loom to create shawls, bags, scarves, blankets and more!
Meet The Sheep
The Sheep Saga...
I got the chance in 2020 to purchase a local croft when the owners moved off the island. And in the October my first flock of sheep arrived. 10 Hebridean ewes purchased from a local crofter. We lost one to a sudden bacterial infection, it turns out we should have vaccinated them against these types of bacteria but I hadn't known about it, the learning process in action. The remaining 9 were then vaccinated!
Tupping (mating the ewes) normally starts early to mid November but due to a miss-commuication the ram I had intended to borrow never arrived so in December/January they were tupped by a Vallais Blacknose ram borrowed from a friend. The ewes were then scanned in the spring but unfortunately only one scanned as in lamb. So I decided to buy five new ewes who were in lamb so that I would be able to get some experience in lambing and have some lambs!
Two weeks before they were due to start lambing we found one of the new ewes (Rogue) collapsed in the field with pneumonia and calcium deficiency. We tried our best, she had antibiotics, calcium, glucose and spent a week in a snug barn with plenty of hay, but it was obviously too much for her. She aborted the lamb and then a few days later died. It was so disappointing but we had done absolutely everything possible, just one of those things you have to learn from and move on.
On the 6th of April, the very very earliest they were due I went down to check on them and Coco appeared with a lovely little ewe lamb! I called her Clo (after the Gaelic word for cloth). She spent a week in the barn with the other expectant ewes as we had a very cold snap with heavy snow for several days! When the weather warmed, the ewes and Clo went out into the small paddock and on the 16th of April I got to watch as Badger birthed a gorgeous not so little ram lamb I called Mhor (the Gaelic word for big) His little horns! I couldn't believe how big they were when he was born, no wonder poor Badger was struggling at the end! Clo, Mhor and the ewes went back in with the rest of the flock into the middle field as the grass had started to grow.
Two weeks later on the 3rd of May my original ewe Leo, the only one who scanned in-lamb had her lamb but unfortunately it didn't survive. Maybe it was still born or something happened after it was born but it looked like a normal birth that I just missed by half an hour or so. You feel so guilty in this situation - if I had been half an hour earlier, would it have survived? But you can never know what might have been and just have to move on.
The final two ewes have finally lambed, very late in the season, after a sneaky tupping from a blackface ram after they had been put onto the common grazing. A pair of twins, a boy and a girl and a nice big girl single. The boy is destined for the table and to be made into a rug, the girls I am planning on breeding from once to see what their lambs will be like when tupped to a hebridean, after that we shall see.
I have reserved two Gotland ewes, and a ram that we have arranged to collect in June, very excited to be getting this breed as they have fantastic quality fleece.