Tupping time, 'L' plates and a sharp reminder : Latest blogs from @SoilAssociation

Tupping time, 'L' plates and a sharp reminder

Emma Heseltine - 07 November 2011

We have sorted the sheep at Willowford. The ewes are going into three groups. Bob the Leicester has the wild Swaledales and Black welsh Mountains, Magnus the Gotland has the mules and three quarters with particularly nice wool and the Suffolk’s. Geoff the Suffolk has the Dorset’s and everyone else. They are all put into separate fields and hopefully will stay there for the duration of tupping, we have spent some time recently looking at the fences to ensure this! As we sort them it’s a chance to have a last check over them to see that everyone is fine. They all get a run/stand in the footbath with salt water in, simple remedies are often the best and it doesn’t get much simpler than salt for disinfection. There are a couple who get a pedicure but most are in great condition. Now comes the harder part, picking out those that are just a little past it, a couple of the Swale’s and Dorset’s are looking thin, there are some teeth missing and of course there is the most unfortunate Mrs Mastitis. It wouldn’t be right to let them have more lambs as they would not be able to support them properly and would almost certainly be in a terrible state by the time weaning came around. It is kinder to take them out of the flock now than wear them out. Some will go for mutton over the next few months but none will be kept. There is nothing more miserable than a ewe with no lamb surrounded by her flock-mates who all have lambs.
We are having the cattle PD’ed at Houghton. We have been a bit worried as one of the new heifers, Hadley, has been seen returning to the Jeremiah on a regular basis (If she was in calf she wouldn’t). If she is not able to breed it would be pretty bad, what would be worse would be if Jeremiah was firing blanks. Holly the vet comes with her fabulous scanning machine and sets to work on the girls. A huge sigh of relief when the four cows are all in calf and three of the new heifers are in calf too. Jeremiah gets to take off the ‘L’ plates. Hadley unfortunately is not in calf. After some rummaging Holly concludes that although she has small ovaries there is no reason why she shouldn’t be able to conceive. She takes blood samples to see if a deficiency is to blame and we will wait and see, she may just need more time. During this process I am given a sharp reminder of how dangerous it can be on a farm and how agile you need to be. We are trying to get Daisy (yes Daisy causing problems again) into the trailer with her calf when she suddenly whips her head round and catches me with a horn. I leap backwards but still get a chunk out of my leg and a ripped trouser for my trouble. It makes me think about how careful you always have to be. I suspect Daisy has left a permanent mark.

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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