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Trimming the lambs and a quiet word... : Latest blogs from @SoilAssociation

Trimming the lambs and a quiet word...

Emma Heseltine - 22 January 2012

The lambs I picked out for Brampton market are all at Houghton, they are going to the abattoir tomorrow. Before they go we have to give them a little trim. For hygiene reasons the abattoir doesn’t want muddy or daggy sheep, we have to tidy them up a bit. This usually means ensuring they are dry, so keeping them in the lambing shed overnight and trimming the wool around the tail. We have been having a fairly mild and wet winter, I’m sure you’ve noticed, and so they are getting a lot muddier than usual. To avoid the wrath of the abattoir men we have decided to clip their bellies as well to get rid of all the dirty wool. Luckily we have some electric trimmers which make life easier than using hand shears. It’s quite possible to the job on your own but much easier with two, these lambs are in fact quite large now and can get quite rowdy when they want to. We double team them; I keep them still whilst Susan gives them a trim around the bum. Next I practice my sheep tipping skills (getting there, more practice needed) and put it on its back for a belly trimming. Soon our little group of lambs is looking much neater ready for their final trip tomorrow. Do us proud lambs.

Sometimes a quiet word is all that you need. We want to take Croft from Aglionby back to Houghton. She is due to calve in the near future and we need to give her a bolus. After a tragic loss of a great cow and blood work being done our entire herd has been prescribed these boluses by the vet. They are suffering from mineral deficiencies which are apparently a common problem in the Eden valley. Unfortunately Croft has a bit of a stubborn head on. We have to chase the whole herd round the field several times before getting her into the pen, but eventually she goes in with Yolanda (who is actually her mum and one of our oldest cows) and is loaded up with a bit of cajoling and some hay. We have a group of youngsters doing an agriculture course helping us out today, three lads who are quite keen. Back at Houghton Susan and I decide to speed things along by getting Croft into the crush before the lads catch us up in their bus. The cattle are not daft and will recognise the familiar voice and outline of Susan and to some extent me, which makes it easier to convince them to go in the crush. A gaggle of unfamiliar people is scary, the lads are quite understanding, quiet and careful considering their age, but unfamiliar makes life harder. We get her in and halter her; the last thing you want is a Longhorn whipping its head around when you are trying to give it a bolus. I have a go but lacking confidence don’t manage it so Susan shows me how it’s done. Very quickly Croft is out and reunited with Cypress and Anne who are already in the big Tarraby field.

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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