2020 Lambing Blog
Friday 27th March 2020
Moved ewes and singe lambs out of the 9 acre into a lower field this morning as the icy wind cutting across the top is ideal for mastitis. At 900ft above sea level this change in temperature is very noticeable. Luckily all the others are in the bottom fields.
Still, it is a beautiful day and it isn't raining.
Really don't need extra problems but Aub caught two dogs chasing the ewes in the Ruin Field today, managing to catch one rather elderly one. Prbably not the main ringleader as the lurcher took off. Contacted the police and rang the number on the dogs collar, but no response. Rather surprised when later in the day an odd couple turned up saying the dogs belonged to the woman's daughter who was in New Zealand. Some cok and bull story about someone having told them the dog was with us and when told there would be a bill to follow if ewes aborted left us with a dodgy phone number. Have their car registration though so quite sure we can make contact if necessary. Fingers croseed the two sick ewes will be OK.
24th March 2020
Farming still continues as usual. Spent a beautiful day in our own personal gym, the Cotswold hills. After chasing round checking and feeding stock, hauling slices off big bales of hay and delivering them to any sheep requiring them, we then spent an energetic morning vaccinating and coxi drenching lambs. Moved one lot to another field, with a beautiful view over he neighbouring valley.
We're some of the luckiest ones in this serious situation, but farmers are used to isolation.
Apart from knowing I won't see my children on Mothers Day, self isolating is pretty much the same on the farm as a usual day. The wonderful surprise is that we've now had two days of sunshine and no rain. The garden has woken up to Spring and ewes and lambs all happy.
22nd March 2020 Coronavirus and farmers
Wouldn’t it be interesting if Countryfile this week acknowledged the input from farmers instead of slagging them off as usual?
Farmers are not accepted as key workers, and can often cope with their children being at home, but let us remember they are key workers.
Without them there is no milk and dairy produce, bread etc., eggs or meat.
Our praise to those Farm Shops and little independent village shops who are providing fruit and vegetables and general groceries they can obtain from suppliers, including toilet roll! Also, to those who live in the countryside who are not trying to clear the shelves in these shops.
We now notice an unrivalled amount of people walking through the countryside, often with their dogs, in order to have sufficient self-isolating or social distancing exercise. The countryside belongs to everyone and those living in towns and cities need this escape and we respect that. Please could the general public respect the fact that the countryside is our workplace.
Although there are idiots about like Chris Packham, saying farmers can’t continue to work as they will be self-isolating, please use your common sense. Obviously we are still working. We cannot postpone or cancel lambing or calving, we will be cultivating and drilling fields as soon as the ground dries up sufficiently. Self-isolation can happen in the cab of a tractor or the lambing shed as well as in a house.
Most important of all, when walking the dog, please keep it on a lead. The countryside is not just a free for all exercise area. There are often footpaths running through fields of pregnant ewes, who will be stressed by even led dogs, chased they will probably abort their lambs and possibly be killed as well. The same goes for pregnant cattle.
In fields of ewes with lambs, young lambs can become separated from their mothers and distressed. Cows with young calves can be dangerous.
Keep safe and self-isolate or social distance, but please don’t lose all perspective of common sense like those emptying the supermarket shelves.
Please note, latest blog at the bottom of the page! Wasn't sure which way to do it.
Saturday 15th February
It’s that time again. Lambing is imminent, so I’m de-frosting the spare turkey and I’ve put almond paste on the Christmas cake and will ice it this afternoon. It may sound strange, but Aubrey has his birthday at the end of November and now the children have left home his birthday cake lasts us through Christmas and January, so the Christmas cake stays under wraps until lambing. Very useful to cut at when too tired to cook.
The pens are up, and with Storm Dennis raging it’s the ideal time for the ewes to think of starting. They’re due on Tuesday, but let’s see what the weekend brings. I doubt if they’ll wait that long. On nice sunny days they decide they’ll just sunbathe, but rain and wind seem to encourage them to lamb. Aub has just put the side back in the sheep shed where Storm Ciara blew so hard it pushed it out, so fingers crossed that Dennis doesn’t finish the job off.
I'm fed up with lambing already, and they're not due until Tuesday! So far had two caesareans when we rarely have one a year. A ewe carrying triplets decided to barge her way into the feeders, getting badly squashed and throwing out a water bag. This was all quite unnecessary as there is plenty of space for the ewes to feed, but no, she wanted to be in a certain position in the feeder, and there wasn’t room. Further down the feeder there was plenty of food and room to get to it, but try explaining that to a greedy Texel. Anyway, this means the onset of a birth, even though she wasn’t due for another ten days, and because she wasn’t ready to give birth naturally, it meant calling the vet to do a caesarean. We can’t just leave well alone because at least one of the lambs will die and this in turn will be toxic to the other lambs and the ewe.
All three lambs were healthy and born alive, but gradually we lost them all, one lasting 36 hours. Premature babies don’t have their lungs sufficiently formed to survive, and I knew I was fighting a losing battle, but in these situations I always have to try. At least the ewe is well and will lamb again next year, hopefully at the correct date!
Second caesar produced a deformed lamb that would never have come out naturally!
Things can only get better.
Loiuse, our resident vet!
Things definately improving. We now have staff, thank you Becca, Mark T and Ben. So many people I can hide at home, sort meals and bring the blog up to date. Three more lambed themselves and now in individual pens, and others looking like joining in. Becca and Mark sorting out a few lame ones, Ben bedding up and Aub putting out feeders for the ram lambs. And the sun is shining.
It's Wednesday morning, but was so tired last night that blog had to wait. Steady stream of lambing, but ended up doing the late evening shift as Aub asleep in chair, exhausted. He's there again now, but was lambing from midnight 'til 6.45am! Becca in charge at the moment. Thank goodness we have such a good lambing team at the moment.
Now time to take the usual two Co-dydramol and a Naproxen to get me through this morning.
It may be wet and unpleasant, but at least it's not cold. Have sent a memo to all ewes that if they'd like to get on with it today, they can. With Mark and Ben on hand as well we can cope, but please don't save yourselves up for the night shift!
Saturday 22nd 7.50 am
I'm obviously no good at daily blogging during lambing. I really don't know how anyone who's hands on is. Far too tired at night to write.
Wednesday I think went reasonably well, but Thursday we had one member of staff who felt he needed a day off and Mark had problems with child care so, of course, it was the day everything decided to lamb, several having problems. By lunchtime, when Aub had to take one of our best ewes to Gloucester for a caesarean as the vets couldn't get out, I rang Mark in desperatation. He organised his mother as child care and came in for a couple of hours, which was a life saver.
Thankfully Aub and the good ewe arrived back with a storming ram lamb, fit and well. He'd been coming the right way but was big and stuck, and his head had swollen where he'd need jammed, but the trip was worthwhile.
Thursday evening the Blue Texels decided to give it all,with five ewes producing nine lovely ewe lambs, mostly on their own, but pens needed sorting, as we now had a blockage in the lambing pen department.
We couldn't do this without Rebecca, and even by half past eight in the morning my body was only just coping with being up again. More co-dydramol and I'll soon be in action. Full staff again, so made use of the muscle and re-organised the sheep shed, as there are more ewes with lambs than expectant ones in this bunch now. Had to make a decision on the lamb who couldn't suck properly and who we'd been tubing for three days. A couple of ewes who had disasters are now looking after triplet lambs and bottling is down to the minimum.
Grandsons Toby and Wilfred have now returned from their half term trip to Wales and are on lambing duties with Grandpa. Toby really exceptionally useful at ten, he'd lambed his first sheep by eight o'clock. Wildfred great but often takes a more managerial stance at the age of seven. Both aiming to do the full night shift so I went to bed. Every limb and joint in my body ached. Thank god for painkillers and whisky.
Breakfast and an update from the boys, who made it to bed around midnight after what appears to have been a fairly hectic evening.
Toby assures me that Wilfred, in true managerial style was always in the wrong place at the wrong time, but both seem to have enjoyed their night shift. Becca tells me Aub's last ewe of the night lambed at 5.30 am, so we're leaving him in bed, but the boys are raring to go. Becca and me, not quite so enthusiastic, but will gather ourselves up in a minute.
Toby and Wilfred lambing and Toby pulling a Blue.
Saturday 7.30 pm
Absolutely knackered. I never want to see a sheep again! Have come home and poured a large glass of white wine. I have put the supper on, but not sure when I'll next see Aub. I've told him to ring a friend who has someone looking for a lambing job to get in touch, but don't know if he will. If not he's on his own tonight. I can't do any more.
Don't know where Sunday went but Aub did get in touch with Jess, who is now our second shepherdess, and great. Takes the strain off Aub, Becca and me. She did night checking for the past two nights and will help us Wednesday and Thursday as hoping the weather will stay dry enough to Heptavac the April flock. Personally I think we've got plenty of lambs, but I suppose we can't stop them coming now.
What a difference a day makes. Not raining and even a glimpse of the sun so two lots of ewes and lambs went out in the fields for a couple of hours until it did turn cold and rain again.
I thought we must have finished this lot but two more Blues lambed today, both with lovely ewe lambs, so still keeping an eye on those we thought were in the returns. With most of the ewes out of pens the work load is halved, which gives us time to look round the lmbs and catch any up again who aren't coping in the bigger bunches.
Seasonal snow followed by late morning sunshine.
Friday 28th February
Our British climate still not improving, but the lambs have to get used to this weather. Becca and I spent the morning sorting the doubles and singles and re-organising the accomodation for larger numbers to come into the sheds tonight. Just a little early to expect them to sit in a wet field all night when we have the facilities to accomodate them indoors.
Wednesday 4th March
Time to take some lambs to Worcester market and enjoy a good breakfast there. I hate taking the lambs for meat, but these ewe lambs were never going to grow into useful ewes to go commercially or as recipients, as we are MV accredited and scrapie montiored, so this was their destiny. They've had a lovely life, been well fed and cared for. There are still twenty at home available later in the year as recipients.
Tuesday 10th March
First day of Cheltenham Festival and ewes decide to go mad. Four natural lambings, all complicated, and one caersarean between 12 noon and 2.45 pm. Obviously none of them had registered that I wanted to watch the racing! Luckily all successful though, and Aub thought it a much better time for them all do it than on the night shift.
Just got home in time to see Honeysuckle win her race.