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Getting lost, abattoir and feet... : Latest blogs from @SoilAssociation

Getting lost, abattoir and feet...

Emma Heseltine - 20 May 2012

Alex, one of our Monday helpers and I are checking the ewes and lambs at Wallacefield. It doesn’t quite add up and I can hear a plaintive baaing coming from the vicinity of the river; someone is lost. We wander over and sure enough there is a lamb on the wrong side of the fence in the field that is basically a bank to the river Eden. He has slipped through a gap and now can’t remember how to get back. I don’t fancy catching the little blighter – broken pinkie aside it’s a steep bank covered in undergrowth, not fun. We decide I’ll head into the bushes and try and shoo him toward the gate, which Alex will hold and try to shoo him through. I manage not to fall down the bank and get him headed in the right direction and Alex swings the gate shut behind him. An emotional reunion ensues as he finds him mum. Now, stay in your field!

Later, I’m making a trip to the abattoir. There is a lot going on at Willowford today and they have asked if I will take the hogs and a mutton ewe to the abattoir at Lockerbie. I’ve been up there before but haven’t delivered anything on my own before. I figure I’m getting pretty good at reversing the quad and trailer, which is notoriously difficult, so this should be a cake-walk. First job, get the Lambulance hooked to my car, load sheep and reverse out of yard without going off the track down the bank side. Tiny bit of yelling and a couple of attempts at reversing and success. Next drive the 40 mile to our nearest abattoir who will do organic without any mishaps, no problem. Finally negotiate the frankly labyrinthine paperwork, have a chin-wag with lovely Nora the abattoir lady and recruit random Scot farmer to help me manoeuvre trailer into position and unload sheep. Say goodbye to sheep and drive back home. Simple really.

Some of the lambs at Aglionby are a little lame so we get them in to have a look. Yet again I’m reminded of how difficult this would be without the dogs; Aglionby is a sprawl of fields with a hedge and line of trees down the middle of the big field and a semi-permanent pond in the other. Skye and Trim make short work of the task and we soon have the sheep in the pen. The cattle are all standing about looking confused by all this action; they take no notice of the dogs. It’s a little harder to tell who is lame when they are in the pen, so we try walking them up and down to spot who needs some attention. There are a couple of likely suspects and I grab one. Its still pretty easy just to grab and pick up the lambs but soon they will be getting too big for that and will have to be tipped like their mums, that is if I don’t want a bad back. But for the time being I hold the lamb up and Susan gets a good look at its feet.

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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