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Difficult lambs, lost lambs, pet lambs and rolling... : Latest blogs from @SoilAssociation

Difficult lambs, lost lambs, pet lambs and rolling...

Emma Heseltine - 25 March 2012

New born lambThis morning there is a difficult lamb being born. The Ewe has had her first and is having a rest before the next comes. We come back to check on her and discover a head and one leg sticking out. This is no good, we need two legs, that lamb has got to go back in. I hold onto the Ewe whilst Philippa pushes it back in, no easy task it has to be said. Finally it’s back in and we can try and get the legs and head all orientated correctly. After some struggling Philippa makes the wise choice to call for assistance. Susan comes and with some manoeuvring and both of us pulling a leg we get the lamb out. It’s fine despite its ordeal of being born twice. The Ewe is exhausted and gets a well earned rest in the pens, what a trooper!

At Wallacefield I can hear some plaintive baaing. Someone has got through the fence and can’t remember how to get back. We go and have a look and discover two lambs in the wrong field, one spots the hole it came through and leaps back but we have to catch the second. Its soon back with its mum. Railway field is clearly not sufficiently lamb proof, so we set off with planks and string to fill some gaps. Local wildlife has been creeping under the stock netting and the gaps are big enough for a tiny lamb to get through. We soon have them patched; hopefully there won’t be anymore escapees.

Shearlings are notoriously hard work at lambing. It’s their first lamb and they are extremely reluctant to have any help from us. Philippa has got one of them in the trailer when it had just had its first lamb and brought it back to the shed. She is doing remarkably well and another follows which she duly licks like a good mum should. Trouble is now we want to have a check and see if there is another and see if she’s got milk. I figure we should get the lambs out of the way as she is stepping on them in an effort to stay away from Philippa who is trying to get around the back of her. I bend down to scoop one up and get a head butt for my trouble, right on the chin. Chewing my bruised lip and swearing profusely but not particularly eloquently, I grab the lamb and wedge the Ewe up against the pen so Philippa can have a poke around. There is another lamb and it’s backwards, it’s also really tiny and obviously dead. Poor Ewe, she had done really well with the first two but three was too much. I can forgive her for the head butt as she is trying to be a good mum, which is after all what we want.

We are going to end up with a couple of pets this year. Mrs Lleyn has got very little milk so we have to take one of her lambs to feed it up a bit. The other is a triplet that unfortunately mum has rejected, she just decided it was a tiddler and that three was too many. They are both fighters though, one has a particularly loud Baa and makes its feelings known whenever I am anywhere near. We hope there is a Ewe who has a single that we can adopt one of them onto, but it seems this year is the year of the triplets so that might be a long shot.

I’ve decided to have a break from lambs (we are 50 lambs for 27 Ewe’s by Sunday) and get some tractoring experience. Neighbour John who does all our tractor work has offered to teach me the basics and get me rolling some of the fields at Wallacefield. After a brief explanation of the controls, and a practice at emergency stop (very important) I’m rolling along with the roller. The Massey is easier to drive than Willowford’s tractor (sorry Liam) and after a few times back and forth I feel happily in control. I’m left to it and spend a peaceful afternoon making stripes in the sunshine.

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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