Last year I wrote about the annual cycle of a sheep farming family and you would think that everything is the same one year on, wouldn’t you?
The beauty of farming though is that no two days are alike, let alone years and, whether you see it as a good thing or not, I am still finding things to write about on the blog so what has happened with our sheep this year?
Just after my annual sheep post last year, poor Minty died. We think he died of bloat which is like a very and form of acid indigestion in ruminate which can, and did, prove fatal.
Our Suffolk rams went and did the business with the ewes in November as usual. We should have put them in a couple of weeks later as I was due the baby in March but we only remembered about it when it was too late and they were already getting amourous.
Then it was winter and we waited for lambs and babies.
We hoped the change in ram breed would make our foot rot better in the lambs.
It was a wet winter so many of the ewes suffered terribly with their feet.
We made a decision to get rid of all of the foot rot ewes once they had lambed and we kept them separate from the others so as not to spread anything around.
The baby was born and we had two weeks of waiting until the first lamb came-which came on Mother’s Day. How apt.
There is usually a couple born at the end of March and then May sees them come thick and fast.
Many of the ewes struggled more than with crosses we usually have. Back to the drawing board then.
Every year we are excited at the anticipation of lambing starting and every year we then get fed up. This year especially tough because the older two, with January birthdays, were slightly older than Baby J was. I was tired. Hubster was tired and, unlike ordinary times where we help each other out, this year we couldn’t.
Anyway, we got through it and the lambs that did make it have thrived. The addition of an automatic shepherdess drinker last year has made the job of feeding pet lambs easier but the actual lambs themselves much less tame. I suppose you can’t have it both ways.
The post-lambing period is a mixture of worming, treating for other conditions and then it was early hay making in May.
Sheep shearing took place in the middle of June. Still my favourite day of the year and it was Baby J’s first time.
It is usually September that is prime ram-buying season. One of our Texels died and, with the Suffolks not really being what we hoped for, Hubster sent them to market. I had hoped to save my favourite one as a pet but they were gone before I realised.
During lambing this year, I saw a gorgeous lamb on Instagram. It was cream and curly and really, really cute. It was one of @farmer_jones_wife and I fell n love. You can’t tell for sure where the lamb ends and the carpet begins.
The lamb was a Romney and, after seeing it, I started a one-woman campaign to Hubster. Thankfully, the sheep shearer praised the breed so I didn’t have to do much campaigning.
Finding them in the North of England proved to be the problem though but, as with all things, we did find some, and some ewes from a lovely lady and it was as though it was meant to be.
So we are now the proud owner of two Romney rams and four ewes. I am hoping to breed pure Romneys with two of the ewes and keep them while the rams will be off loving all of our sheep.
At this time of year, it is also market time. Hubster has already taken some older ewes to market and a few of this year’s lambs got a one way ticket to the abbatoir.
With it being the summer holidays, we all tagged along for this. I know some people would probably think this is weird and, possibly inappropriate but we never lie to our children about any aspect of farming.
Indeed at just 2 and a half, G is definitely aware of the role of the mummy goat or sheep and the daddy goat or sheep.
Birth, death and everything in between in a part of life-especially on a farm and this is what we do.
So now we are planning on taking more lambs to market-ironically just as the price drops because there is so much lamb available.
This is why it is so important that people start a love affair with lamb and, make sure it’s British.
Most supermarkets are supporting British lamb to an extent but New Zealand lamb is still widely available and it will continue to flood the shelves if people don’t vote with their feet.
Britain has been farmed for thousands and thousands of years. Much has changed-the landscape especially but to enable British farmers to continue with their passion, the public needs to buy British produce.
Support us today.
This post, like last year’s is to coincide with Love Lamb Week.