Monday, 31 August 2015

La Rentrée ... for our sheep!

For many children this week is, what in France is called, La Rentrée - the return to school.  Here at Eco-Gites of Lenault the boys go back on Wednesday but yesterday was Le Rentrée for our sheep.  Don't worry, I have not gone totally mad and sent the sheep to school ...  La Rentrée literally means the return and yesterday our sheep returned from our more distant valley fields and back up to the pastures near the house and gite.  The Ovine Rentrée.

Mabel (who we sold today) and a very young Monty

We don't keep sheep overwinter any more for various reasons and instead buy ewes and lambs in the Spring.  They spend a few weeks up by the house and then get rather unceremoniously transported in the back of the 4x4 down to our valley fields where they spend the summer.  The path down there is very narrow with a steep drop on one side so if we want to get them back up later in the year for sale or slaughter then we need to do it before the track gets too wet and slippery.  Yesterday was that day as we had sold one sheep and she was being collected by her new owner.

Also, one of the lambs has had diarrhoea, most probably brought on by eating new fresh grass which has grown after the spell of recent rain we've had.  It's somewhat of a design fault* of sheep that the one ideal food they need for survival is the same one that can make them ill.  But then that's sheep for you and, like turkeys, they spend their entire lives thinking of ways to die.  I don't have any faith in getting them to a time to sell or eat as a sheep can go from healthy and fine to dead overnight ... and it can commit suicide in more ways than you can ever think of.

  • Yes, diarrhoea is enough to kill a sheep.  If the upset tummy doesn't do it and you don't clear the mess from their behinds then flies can lay eggs under the pooey skin and the sheep can then be eaten alive by maggots.
  • They can die from internal parasites and any number of diseases you may or may not have heard of.
  • If there are some brambles to get their wool caught in they will get caught and if left, will die of dehydration/boredom and sheer pig-headedness sheep-headedness.
  • Water trough - that'll be good to drown in
  • Fencing - oh we could get caught up in that, especially the flexible netting variety and then follow the same route as for brambles above.
  • Poisonous plant - oh yes please - and lets make it a double helping just to make sure it kills us.
  • There's a D in the day of the week - that must be Dieday then!

Honestly, sheep are not the brightest of creatures but they do have an A+ in "How to Die".  I am never happy that I have succeeded in rearing our sheep until they are safely bagged up in the freezer!  

* Oh and on design problems you have cows who have 4 teats yet almost never have more than 2 calves yet sheep only have 2 teats and can quite easily have 3,4 and occasionally even more lambs.  Now that is bad designing!

Do you sheep sheep?  Can you add to my list any ways you have had sheep die?


  1. Hope you sort the lambs, they are so quick to turn up their toes and die if you are not there to sort them quicly. Hope the children are all ready for back to school for the new term too.

    1. He is still with us but still very ill but for once we have a real fighter on our hands.

  2. oh my that is so spot on but also true of many other animals, such as chickens, they are just stupid, when we were kids the sheep used to slip in the brook or just appear to fall on their backs in the neighbouring fields where we lived, the farmer got fed up of my mother calling him none stop with her constant demands that he came and did something, so she'd send my sister and I out to upright the sheep in the fields that had fallen or got stuck and even asked us to drag a dead sheep out of her view from the kitchen window as it upset her

  3. We love sheep - they wander around loose her as we are in the countryside. I woke up one morning and we had 32 in the garden! #AnimalTales

  4. That may be the most light-hearted view of suicide I've ever read! Welcome back to the sheep and lambs, do try and stay awhile! :)

  5. Sheep sound like a nightmare-this isn't the first time I've heard stories along these lines. In fact, I was speaking to Fiona (of Coombe Mill) about it over the summer on a visit-I think I'd stick to chickens if I ever manage to get somewhere with enough space! One day, one day :)


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