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Winter feeding

As I write Storm Imogen is battering the farm with high winds and slanting rain. Only days ago the last storm bought floods, water pouring off the fields and tracks. Keeping the sheep fed and sheltered is a challenge. Luckily I have a couple of big airy barns where I can put the haylage, so they can eat under cover. Even in here the ground is sodden as the rain drives through the slated wooden walls. One end is corrugated iron, two weeks ago I had to tie the whole side down as an upright had broken at the base and the whole 45' by 30' side was flapping like a giant sail in the wind. Working in these conditions is exhausting physically and mentally, as you cross fingers that nothing is going to blow down or away. As the river runs through the bottom of the farm I am unlikely to suffer much from floods, although the barns have flooded in the past. At the time I dug a trench under the end wall, so far it seams to still be working.

The sheepdogs, Jay and Sparrow, stay with me guarding the door to the barn as I take the haylage in. The older one, Sparrow, constantly alert to the movement of sheep.

Lambing is only weeks away now and it is important to get the feeding right. The lamb develops and grows a lot in the last 6 weeks, so this time is critical. I change my feeding from just haylage and organic minerals to adding organic sheep feed, 16% protein. This I feed in metal troughs in the yard to keep the feed clean so that it is not wasted.

When the weather allows, the sheep are out on the fields by day and in at night. In this really wet weather I keep the sheep in off the fields to protect the grazing so that the fields don't get churned up.

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