Lamb taxi, a new coat and Hayley and King... : Latest blogs from @SoilAssociation

Lamb taxi, a new coat and Hayley and King...

Emma Heseltine - 13 April 2012

Hayley and her calf King

Hayley and little King.

I’m moving some of the ewes and their lambs to the hay meadow at Tarraby. They stay in the pens a couple of days so we can make sure that the lambs are okay, that the ewe is mothering them properly and we can give them a pedicure. Then they can go out into the field and enjoy the new grass. I’ve been doing some of the foot trimming and I can tell you it is not easy to tip a mule, they are big sheep and they are most unappreciative of my efforts. It’s a fairly easy job loading them into the trailer, the ewes will follow their lambs so we just pick them up and pop them in and the ewe follows.

Turning them out is great, the lambs often fall out of the trailer, not judging the gap very well, but as soon as they hit the grass they are frolicking away. Later I bring the ewes some dinner and there is mass lamb confusion as all the mums come running over for food and leave the lambs milling around bleating. Once dinner is devoured there is more noise as everyone tries to sort out who belongs to whom. There is always one who is totally lost and panicking, running back and forth to every ewe to find mum, then such a relief when she is found. It’s a real lamb circus, very entertaining! 

I have a disastrous evening whilst Susan is out one night. There is a ewe lambing and everything looks fine, but it isn’t. We have great difficulty catching her but some swift moves from our helper Emily gets her under control. The presentation is correct but something doesn’t seem right, I pull the lamb out, a whopper, and it isn’t breathing. I try swinging it and checking its airway, nothing. We get them in the trailer and take them back to the shed and try another couple of tricks but nothing, it just won’t breathe. The poor thing dies on me. I’m somewhat upset about this, but out of death may come a chance for one of the triplets. When Susan arrives back she has a trick to give the ewe a new lamb. She skins the dead one and gives the triplet in need of a mum a little lamb coat. It isn’t pretty but it means the ewe will accept the adoptee and both the ewe and lamb will get what they need, a live lamb for the ewe and a mum who can feed it for the lamb.

In the morning I find out that Hayley has had her calf, only three weeks late! Well done Hayley, and little King. We have five calves now, and four are bull calves, this is good news.

Willowford have started lambing early, that’s the way these things usually work. When I go down on Wednesday there is one lambing in the front field. She has had one and is thinking about the second, we decide to leave her to it and have lunch; hopefully there will be more when we come back. I go down to feed the boys Bob and Geoff and on my way back check on her. Sure enough there is a second little black woolly blob orbiting mum. Suddenly right before my eyes out comes number three, bright white and bleating for all its worth. It seems that the year of triplets is not confined to the Croft.

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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