We got up at about 8:30 this morning and it was already 27C outside. The sheep were down by the lake nibbling leaves and keeping cool in the shade. Thay have done a great job clearing the raspberries and birch that were obscuring our view from the sauna.
I put some fresh bedding on the ground in their shed because they go there during the day to doze and keep out of the sun,
#210 escaped again and I found her in the neighbour's garden, nibbling an oak tree. The others were all bleating like crazy: it's easy to tell when something unusual is happening.
I suppose it's a case of, "What grows together, goes together" and so I thinned out the sprawling herb garden and fed some mint to the sheep. Elisa was the first to spot me waving a bunch of fresh leaves over the gate and she came running over for a sniff. She had probably not tasted mint before and, being a very conservative eater, she walked away. But the lambs are more adventurous and several of them decided it was yummy and tore the stalks out of my hands. At which point Elisa decided she might be missing out on something so pushed her way to the front and had a taste. Hmmm, it's OK.
The idea came from a website where I had been researching toxic plants for sheep. There was also a list of plants that can have beneficial (ie medicinal) effects on sheep and mint was recommended (for weaning ewes). Anyway, it ain't toxic and most of them love it.
Am now researching garlic supplements. They seem to be very beneficial to sheep (and humans!) and are totally organic so I'm looking for some Finnish suppliers.
Beautiful weather the past few days and the sheep love being in the new field. They move around all day: we often watch them grazing amongst the apple trees while we are having breakfast. Later in the day they move down to the lake to chew the cud (lots of burping noises, quite disgusting) - but when I try to sit on a deckchair and read a book there are always a nosey few who come over to nibble the pages or even try to jump up on my lap! When it gets really hot they go back into the sheep shed for a couple of hours. In the evening they spread out in the field, jumping up to get hold on the hay hanging on the hay poles. They might even stampede once or twice as the sun goes down.
The flock loves being in the big field now and are exploring everywhere. They've been down to the lake, into the apple trees and walked around the sauna. They immediately found the rocks we have in the field near the cabin and all 20 lambs were, at one point, jostling for space on the pile. I'm the king of the castle...!
Then we had an "episode" down by the lake. I had taken a bucket of stale bread down there (it's a good idea to train the flock to follow a bucket) and Zelda had wanted to come too. I threw a stick for her to swim after and then started handing out the bread. Zelda swam back and some of the ewes surrounded her. She got angry and bit #258 on the nose. I threw the almost empty bucket on the ground so I could see if the bite was serious (it wasn't) and meanwhile one of the brown ewes had managed to get the empty bucket on its head and was running around bleeting inside the bucket!!! So funny. I was tempted to reach for my camera but scared that the ewe would run into the lake. So, I did the Right Thing and ran to the rescue of the ewe/bucket! She ended up in the reeds anyway and managed to shake off the bucket herself. A missed video gag opportunity!
We've been away for the weekend, having fun in the archipelago, but before we left we had a big Hay Day and then let the sheep into the big field. It took them a while to figure out that the fence had been removed but once Elisa had realised what was going on, she was off and they followed her.
We have taken most of the hay up to the Rosendal barn, some is in an old horse-drawn charabanc which has been converted for tractor towing. The rest is stuffed into massive drawstring bags. And we still have quite a lot of it on haypoles in the field. (If you click on a photo, you can view it on a full screen.)
Spent this morning wrapping cellulose tubes back around the birch trees. These are the tubes that we used to plant the visakoivu saplings nearly 13 years ago. We removed them from the saplings as soon as the birch trees were able to withstand deer attacks but fortunately we stored them - for once I approve of Peter's these-might-come-in-useful-one-day approach to asset management. This year we seem to have sheep that like birch bark. Once the bark has been removed the trees will die, so we have no choice but to wrap them up (the trees, not the sheep...). Not very aesthetic but functional.
We heard nothing from them all day as they were sitting in the shade down by the lake trying to keep call. this evening they wandered up to the cabin to graze and I took a few photos.
We have had quite a few visitors over the weekend and the sheep have loved it. Lots of attention. But they don't like the hot weather at all and stay in the shade most of the day, occasionally going down to the lakeside in the reeds and the long grass.
We are getting the big field ready for them now which means repairing the fence and building Fort Knox reinforcements around the apple trees (they have already decimated the buckthorn bushes which are supposedly toxic...). The nice old wooden gate we had last year is replaced with a nasty metal thing which is easier to open and shut (for us) and harder to circumnavigate (for them).
We'll let them through as soon as we have finished stacking the hay but we are temporarily short of poles. #210 has already figured out the route into the big field (see below). When she gets lonely she starts screaming her head off until one of us goes and lifts her back in.