Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Christmas on the farm

We did it! Our first event on the farm! I don’t think we have ever worked so hard!

We now understand first hand all the stories LEAF farmers tell us about sweeping the sheds at midnight the night before Farm Sunday or a farm visit….so where to start….our landlord the Northmoor Trust ran a lovely Christmas Fayre and we put on tractor and trailer rides down to the barns for people to see our sheep in their winter bedrooms. We had brought in our 50 girls who are due to lamb in January on Friday and we decided to bring our replacement flock in as well (about 60). These are the sheep which if they have girls we will keep to breed from, and we couldn’t forget 2 of our rams too who we penned up and ran a competition for our visitors to give them names! We are busy deciding the winner at the moment we had some great suggestions!

We had set the barns up ready for all of them and bedded them down with straw, they looked so cosy! Our neighbour Andrew had kindly brought some of his Hereford cows over including his handsome bull! And Chris Parker from the Northmoor Trust had his 4 little piggies outside for people to see.

On Saturday Brian arrived to shear the sheep and Roly’s stepfather Stephen helped him out. Everyone loved watching and Brian was brilliant with our girls, so gentle as we were concerned with them being pregnant that they need to be carefully handled. We had carols playing in the background and Bobbie our lovely neighbour from where we used to live lent us some of her farmyard resources for little ones to play with. We also had Delilah the cow, kindly lent by Virginia Deradour and the Henley Agricultural Society who the children loved milking! On Saturday my brother Mark was driving the tractor, Roly’s sister Tetta and Mum Sarah (Camilla’s godmother Anthea helped Tetta on Sunday) were busy selling our yummy lamb burgers and lots of friends turned up in support. At the end of the day we all came back to our cottage and drank lots of tea and had a full debrief! We were discussing what extra activities we could do the next day…more sheep dog demonstrations with Meg which had been popular and making more of the bedding up and feeding, we went to bed exhausted but all fired up for the next day.

We woke up to howling winds and rain on Sunday morning and thought oh no! but someone was certainly looking after us as it all cleared up by about 10am. We arrived at the sheds to get things ready and we had the biggest surprise…..our first pair of lambs had been born overnight! So amazing, talk about perfect timing! One of our rams must be rather good at opening gates! They were already doing really well and had suckled and felt warm. Their Mummy was looking after them so well. Chris Lee, who used to manage the flock before us, happened to be there and showed us how to protect their navals from infections using an iodine solution and then we penned them up and they were the star attraction of the day! Their Mummy was so good and patient with everyone looking on all day and us picking up her babies to show our visitors. Our lovely vet Adelle was also around both days and Jennie and Janet joined her on Saturday. They were showing people the machine they use to scan the sheep to check to see if they are pregnant or not, it was fascinating. The good news for us is that all of our girls who are due to lamb in January are having babies. As they are pretty late in pregnancy we couldn’t see how many they are going to have but still good to know they are having some!

We just want to thank everyone who helped us over the weekend, we feel so grateful and couldn’t have done it without you.

We have already had some interest from visitors in becoming Cropsharers which is really exciting.

More soon

Camilla, Roly, Boris and Meg