Tuesday, 28 February 2012

The media and first signs of spring!

Schmallenberg virus has hit the headlines this week. Yesterday our phones were constantly ringing from local press wanting our thoughts on how we are coping and preparing for our 250 ewes who are due to lamb in 3 weeks time. Roly spoke on the Jeremy Vine show yesterday and we had BBC Oxford television out on the farm this morning which you can see from the photos.

The virus was first detected in a village called Schmallenberg in Germany last year. The virus is transmitted by midges which were possibly blown across the channel at the end of last summer, hence most of the cases have so far been on the east coast. As the UK lambing season progresses more cases are emerging, as yet none in Oxfordshire. We thought we might have got away with it as our January lambing went well but our vet Adelle advised us this morning that the ewes are vulnerable during the first months of their pregnancy so there is a chance the March flock could have been exposed to the midges later in the year.

It seems very ironic as the ewes all look really well and are tucking in to all their yummy food and are totally oblivious to our fussings over them.

The good news is that there is no risk to human health from the virus. Adelle explained this is due to the particular type of gene sequence which the virus carries does not affect humans. So all our bookings to be shepherds for the day with us and our lambing weekends are all safe to go ahead as planned and we're looking forward to seeing everyone.

All the January lambs are having their first taste of the outdoors today! Spring is in the air! It was also their first taste of being moved as a group which is often chaos as the lambs don't know what to do or to make of Belle. This will make more room in the sheds for the March flock and ensure they all have plenty of trough space to feed their growing lambs.

More soon

Camilla, Roly, Molly, Boris and Belle

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Keeping warm...

I took this photo this morning in the lambing sheds of some of our January lambs looking pretty cosy. There were a few rays of sunshine streaming in and they were positioned right in one of them! They are all growing really well and being very cheeky escaping from their pens and charging around the lambing sheds. Its so funny, as they know they're being naughty, they jump straight back into their pens with their Mum's when we come in.

The March flock were all shorn over a week ago now, we did feel a bit mean! It was literally just as the weather changed but they are absolutely fine as they are indoors and on cosy beds of straw. Brian, our shearer, uses special winter shears which don't shear as close to the skin as the summer ones, so they do have a fine layer of wool. We shear them now so that all the energy they gain from eating the special nuts and hay goes into their growing lambs, rather than being wasted through panting trying to keep cool with their thick winter fleeces on.

We're really pleased to be supplying two new pubs within the last two months - the Seven Stars at Marsh Baldon www.sevenstarsonthegreen.co.uk and the Three Horseshoes at Benson www.thethreehorseshoesbenson.co.uk we hope all their customers will enjoy eating delicious local lamb.

We've got lots of bookings to be shepherds for the day and we're starting to take bookings for companies who are going to spend the day with us as a day for their staff to all get together and work through some tasks, we'll keep you posted, but do get in touch if you are interested.

More soon

Camilla, Roly, Molly, Boris and Belle