Busy day today. Work in the morning then an afternoon risking life and limb doing sheepy things. Well maybe a severe bruising and a soaking. The rams needed their raddle colour changing and I had to take two 6ft feed troughs to a group of pregnant ewes on the marsh. Raddle is pigmented paste applied to the chest of a ram so he marks each ewe he mates. It gives you an idea of when a ewe is going to lamb. Applying it involves grovelling in front of 90+kg of testosterone-fuelled muscle bound body with a very hard head on the front. The quickest way of getting the troughs to the ewes was to carry them over a ligger across a water-filled dyke, a ligger being the colloquial word for whatever piece of timber was found long enough to span the dyke, in this case an 8 inch wide slippy scaffolding board. In the late spring you can enjoy Water Soldiers, Norfolk Hawkers and Hairy Dragonflies from this plank, now it crosses cold dank water.
The first two rams were easy even though one was Sam, our most untrustworthy ram who has taken out several grown men in his time. The troughs were delivered without incident. Things went downhill when I was unexpectedly joined by Blossom our unruly Jack Russell who had somehow escaped the confines of our garden and raced after me across the marsh. A handy sheep halter soon had her under control but with a dog in tow I couldn't get near the third ram. It was probably also the presence of Blossom that turned the normally docile Wizard in to a raging monster. After successfully applying his raddle paste I suddenly found myself flattened against a gate before he turned his attention to pummelling the dog in to the mud. We beat a hasty retreat.
At least my reward was a fine male Hen Harrier quartering the marshes and also a fly over Yellowhammer, the first for the marsh in about 10 years. Siskins and a Bullfinch were also heard and a small flock of wintering Teal flushed from the dykes surrounding the alder wood. Teal seem to much prefer these overshadowed dykes to the open dykes of the marsh. Maybe they feel safer from prowling Marsh Harriers?