Pic of the day – sheep by numbers

An unseasonably sunny (is it really December?) morning was the opportunity for some sheep maintenance

Carew at work with sheep

Primarily we were checking the ear tag numbers on our most recent intake of "training assistants", but it's important to check the sheep regularly, just to make sure they're all the right way up.

The ear tags show the sheep's individual number, and the number of the flock they belong to, and are legal requirements for all sheep in the UK.

sheepdog Carew, staring at her sheep
"Ready...steady..."

The ear tag number is the same as the electronic chip number, but we don't have a reader for the few sheep we keep so we have to gather the girls into a pen, where Andy wrestles with them each in turn. He calls out the tag number, and I write it down while he brushes the mud out of his eyebrows and prepares himself for the next one.

We only had to do it a few times. The first time we found ourselves with two sheep with the same number (which is impossible) and for a while we seemed to have 13 numbers for 12 sheep, but it all came right in the end.

I'm delighted to report that we have a 666! Will she prove to be a little devil?

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