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NEWS - May 2018

Spring definitely sprang


Spring definitely sprang with a vengeance when May arrived. Ewes had started lambing steadily in April, a single here, twins there, all plain sailing with healthy lambs and healthy mums doing it all by themselves under close supervision from the midwife, mid husband, whose night duty it happened to be.

Just as we were thinking it was all going too well the problems we'd been expecting began. The ewes hadn't been in good condition when they arrived, we knew they'd survived years of neglect of some sort. The most important thing for breeding ewes, for obvious reasons, is that they're in good condition when the ram is put in with them.

These aged ladies weren't, when we felt beneath the fleeces we found bags of bones. We then began getting triplets, tiny, weak little lambs, ewes with no milk, ewes unable to lamb without assistance, between us all we managed to lamb them all successfully plus give them the round the clock attention needed to keep them alive. Some lambs who were too weak to suckle had to be tube fed until they were strong enough to feed themselves from the Electric Shepherdess, a device like a large cooking pot with teats which keeps the milk substitute warm and lambs can feed ad lib, as they would from mum.

It was a relief when finally all but one ewe had lambed, (we're still waiting for her?). The weather became kinder, the grass grew and bit by bit we were able to give the lambs their vaccinations and turn them out into one of the paddocks close to the house.

It was an absolute joy to see the lambs first reaction finding themselves in a big field. At first they stuck close to mum, then one of the bolder lambs ventured forth and gave a little leap in the air, soon to be followed by one or two more brave ones. Before long 50 plus lambs were racing each other through the grass, leaping and galloping on spindly legs until they were worn out and suddenly realised they couldn't see mum. A lot of bleating and shouting went on until they were all reunited, peace reigned once more.

Noah and Lily

In the middle of our lambing trials and tribulations two lambs in urgent need of help were brought in to us. Both had been found abandoned in fields, both found by walkers who went to the trouble to inform their owners that these little animals needed to be taken into care. Neither owner responded, for some farmers it's easier to leave sick lambs out for the fox to take, that way there's no cost involved.


The first lamb we named Noah. He was hypothermic, dehydrated and very weak with no suck reflex. I stomach tubed him with rehydrating fluids and held him until I felt him begin to move. He gave a sigh and buried his head in the crook of my arm, now warm and with something in his stomach he fell asleep. When he woke he was able to stand, with a bit of persuasion he learnt to suck from the bottle, the next week or so he slept in my bedroom, going out into the barn during the day with the other lambs. At first this worked well, he was well mannered and slept happily in a large dog crate, until one night, before being put to bed he decided the bedroom was a great place to test his speed on a wooden floor. He also eyed the bed with a view to seeing how high he could jump. His time had come to leave the crèche and join the nursery. He immediately teamed up with Scruffy, an untidy looking one of triplets, they seem to have become inseparable.


Next came Lily, found curled up in the corner of a field with a damaged neck, a fox bite. This had become infected, Lily was in a bad way.With veterinary treatment to drain the wound and a long course of antibiotics, Lily, a quiet, shy little lamb, gradually recovered and is now out in the paddock with a few other vulnerable lambs.

Another twenty four hours with no treatment and Lily would either have died from her infection or been finished off by the fox. All of this excitement was followed by shearing, preparing sheep ready for turn out back into the fields, and preparing our now big, healthy Jersey calves to go out into the fields for the first time in their lives and meet our other cattle. It was such a joy to see these handsome boys enjoying the freedom of the fields after their first winter spent in the barn. Never a dull moment, we wouldn't have it any other way.

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