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Dont get stuck, tiny lambs and rolling...

Emma Heseltine - 07 April 2013

Today it’s starting to feel a little bit like spring, finally and I’m learning to plough. It looks so easy, up and down turning over the soil but as with everything it’s harder than it looks. The ground is a bit wet and I’m in the little Massey which is two wheel drive. The trick is to give it lots of oomph apparently and remember to raise the plough up if I get to a sticky bit and the wheels start spinning. Also ‘whatever you do, don’t get stuck’, good advice.

After a few tense runs and a few close calls in the sticky patch at the bottom of the hill (mantra; don’t get stuck, don’t get stuck, don’t get stuck!) I start to get the hang of it. My lines are not the straightest; I’m out of practice with the old looking backward, still staying in a straight line and on course trick. But the seagulls are descending to pick out any morsels and the field is getting turned. The final verdict, did you go as deep as you could? Is it brown side up? Then it’s a good job.

We’ve had some tricky lambs. There are generally being born okay but some are just not thriving. It seems to be the same all over, everyone with sheep is having a difficult lambing this year. All we can do is try and look after the ones we get as best we can, give them the best start. There is a bit of a blow this week as one of our ewes has quads, two of which are dead then she keels over herself. Now we have two tiny pet lambs. With any luck some singles will come along and we can adopt them on.  As there are only now four ewes left to lamb and these pets are so tiny I’m not optimistic.

There are only a few ewes and lambs left in the shed now and I think they are ready to go out. There is a shearling in the end pen with her two lambs and they are full of the joys of spring. It seems every time I go past they are jumping about, and mum is the best climbing frame. They keep both climbing on her back then leaping off. Lambs like to be high up to see what’s going on!

There is a glimpse of good weather on the horizon so let’s get the barley in the ground. Two tractors turn up to sow the seed and then I get a chance to play with the big toys, a Cambridge roller. It’s about the same size as the little roller I’ve used before until you unfold it. It’s like something from transformers, arms unfurling and clicking into place and suddenly you have an enormous roller behind you. It makes short work of rolling the field, but turning it is something of an art. It has the turning circle of a small whale. Now we would like some little April showers to get things growing. 

Emma completed a degree in Creative Imaging at Huddersfield University before working for a photography studio as an editor. Taking a break from the office world she worked in outdoor education for several years, climbing, abseiling, shooting, trampolining and even life-guarding with children of all ages. When Emma found out about the apprenticeship scheme with the Soil Association it seemed the perfect chance to do something worthwhile and fulfilling. After much searching and badgering farms in the North of England she found a position with Hadrian Organics and started in July 2011. So far it is living up to her expectations, every day is a new challenge and every day is different.

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