Saturday, 31 March 2012

Day 18 - Spring Lambing 2012

We opened our gates to the lambing barns again today, and were not disappointed by the level of interest. It always amazes me how in an age when of high impact entertainment when everything is getting bigger, louder, brighter and faster, people of all ages, young and old just love to lean on a wooden hurdle and just watch the sheep and lambs.

The day starts even earlier than early - before we can think about opening the gates to the visitors we have to do all our routine sheep checks, feeding, and counting, not to mention all the other unexpected challenges our flock throw at us each morning, and have a good sweep! And our open days would not be possible without the help of our friends and family who spoke with visitors, handled lambs and flipped burgers (lamb of course!), and the Earth Trust, our landlords, with whom we run the open days with.

As for our amazing sheep, they did not disappoint, 7 ewes produced 13 lambs, not bad with all those people watching.

. . . and we are doing it all again tomorrow?!!!!

Friday, 30 March 2012

Day 17 - spring lambing 2012

The highlight today has been a successful wet adoption. This is where a ewe is having a single and we put a triplet onto her and it all went well today which is great.

The Badger trend continues...3 more today! So it seems our new Hartline ram has an interesting gene which is producing our gorgeous little lambs.

We moved some lambs outside too which is such a lovely job and all the ones who are already outside are doing really well.

All set for tomorrow, not as hot as last weekend it seems, but we're looking forward to seeing everyone.

Thursday, 29 March 2012

Day 16 - spring lambing 2012

Another beautiful day and some lovely lambs born, including a set of twins from Henry! Henry was our first orphan who we couldn't help but keep, and she is a real character. Unfortunately, when Roly arrived in the lambing sheds first thing this morning, she had already lambed and wasn't so keen on one of her lambs. We are keeping a close eye on her and hoping she will start to accept both her lambs by tomorrow.

We had a pre school group this morning from Oxford where our friend Carol works who helped us our first year here. She is a total star and its lovely that we've kept in touch and she brings the children out to see us. They had a cuddle with Badger and we even did a sheep manoevre with them too, which was great fun.

See attached photo of our two other little Badgers, aren't they sweet, particularly the one with the floppy ear!

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Day 15 - Spring Lambing 2012

Just returned from the late night lambing shed check, where I was met by Akash with a big smile on his face. Akash, who is on his lambing placement from the Royal Veterinary College, had just successfully lambed a ewe, however having caught her and carefully placed her on her side, Akash realised he did not have his lambing ropes on him. Normally there would be someone else around to help, however not on this occasion, meaning he would have to release her, get his kit and then go through the whole process again, until he remembered a little trick. . . Akash quickly removed his jumper, placed it over the ewes head, where she just instantly layed motionless allowing Akash to dash off, grab his kit, and return amazed to find her still there!
On the lambing front, we have had another good day with 10 ewes having their lambs. We were also joined by our 'shepherd for the day' Sally Buttolph who got really stuck into every job. We also turned a batch of ewes and lambs outside, always a favourite job.
More to follow tomorrow

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Day 14 - spring lambing 2012

It really could be July! We've all been in the lambing sheds in t shirts today, I can never remember that happening before! Very happy for it to continue while we are lambing and after this weekend when we are open again to visitors but after that we need RAIN! We can hardly remember what it looks like!

So, not only do we have one very special Badger, but now we have two more! See attached photo. One of our favourite ewes had triplets this morning, two of which have Badgers markings again and they are girls, the other little girl is white so completely different to her two sisters.

Badger is doing really well and charging around the nursery pen with all her friends. We had Goring preschool visit us today and Badger got lots of strokes which she seemed to like. Her coat really is so soft and so are her ears!

Henry our first ever pet lamb is expecting her first lambs any day now, in fact she has been hogging the same corner in the barn for the last 2 days - come on Henry!

The lambs which we have already put outside are growing by the day with the sun on their backs and their Mums are loving tucking into the growing grass.

Hope you like the photo which our friend Ian Beecher Jones took this morning of our amazing set of triplets after they had just been born....who is more proud Roly or their Mum?!

Monday, 26 March 2012

Day 13 - Spring lambing 2012

The great thing about having people join us on the farm to be 'Shepherds for the day' is that they remind us just how lucky we are with our work. Like everyone we get bogged down in the day to day problems and challenges, from bills to droughts, but today we were joined by an 11 year old boy called Jo Mason and his gran Lin Hall who had bought him a 'Shepherd for the day' voucher for his birthday. Jo reminded me how i was at his age, farm mad! Jo's enthusiasm and energy has worn me out (and Belle, our sheep dog), but at the same time has reminded me what amazing places farms are. So its 10pm and i'm just off to check the sheep (again) with a spring in my step!

PS so far today 18 lambs, 1 set of triplets, 1 wet adoption and a worn out sheep dog!

Sunday, 25 March 2012

Day 12 - spring lambing 2012

Wow, an amazing day up at the farm. 100's of people turned out today to see our lambs and meet Badger! The weather has been truly glorious, like a summers day, although you know it is still March in the evenings as I'm just back from the sheds and wearing scarf and gloves.

We love sharing our flock with everyone but it is nice having the sheds back to ourselves at the end of the day. The ewes and lambs take it in their stride and seemed to think they deserved some more hay just now, we always give in....

Such a beautiful moon this evening, Roly commented that it looks like a moon from a nursery rhyme and we were waiting to see the cow jump over it! I think lack of sleep is really kicking in...

Thank you to everyone who came to see us this weekend and to all our helpers and to the Earth Trust. Please come along next weekend if you missed out or want to have another cuddle with Badger or another yummy lamb burger!

Camilla, Roly, Molly, Boris and Belle

Saturday, 24 March 2012

Day 11 - Spring lambing 2012

Today - 18 lambs born, 250 lamb burgers cooked and 1200 visitors, what a day! But Badger (picture above) loved the attention, sound asleep now - Badger and shepherd!

Friday, 23 March 2012

Day 10 - Spring lambing 2012

Another busy day, with 36 good, strong lambs born. This morning we moved most of the 15 ewes and their twins born yesterday outside, the weather could not have been better for them. Tomorrow we shall be opening the gates to visitors and having an open day, so even earlier start in the morning to get all the feeding and bedding up done, not to mention having a proper sweep up before our guests arrive. By the end of the weekend the barn will be full of lambs as we will not be able to take any out to the fields if we have lots of visitors, so a busy monday. Badger (our black lamb)is looking cuter by the day, and she knows it - no doubt she is going to really work the crowds! Our vet students are doing a fantastic job both with ewes, lambs and also talking to the variuos people that come and visit us. Bed time

Thursday, 22 March 2012

Day 9 - spring lambing 2012

It has been the most beautiful day here, and reached 19 degrees this afternoon! It could not be more perfect for turning our lambs outside, you can almost see them visibly grow with the sun on their backs.

It has been a relatively quiet day in the sheds up until about an hour ago and Roly still isn't home now which indicates that the girls have decided to uncross their legs just as we feel like having a break! Badger is doing well and we are keeping her in the sheds for a few days so that our visitors at our lambing weekends this weekend and next can meet her, I think she is going to have a few fans!

With the weather set to stay settled we are expecting a lot of visitors this weekend and we're looking forward to it, there is plenty to see in the lambing sheds as well as lots of other activities happening around the Earth Trust site. We are offering 10% off any lamb ordered over the weekend and will be selling our lamb burgers thanks to the help of our amazing friends and family.

Video today is dropping the ewes and their lambs off into the great outdoors for the first time, enjoy!

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Day 8 - spring lambing 2012

For those who are keeping a close eye on Badgers diary, we now have the promised information from Joel who I mentioned yesterday who is a bit of an expert on how we have ended up with such a beautiful little girl! Here is what he has told us - "the lamb inherits two alleles – one from each parent. The alleles that carry the code for deciding the colour of the lamb will each carry the code for a different colour. However, only one colour can be dominant – the other is recessive. We call these the dominant and recessive genes. Some colours, such as black, are carried in the recessive gene, so the lamb will have to inherit two recessive genes to actually be born black, because if another colour is present that is carried in the dominant gene, this will ‘overpower’ the black recessive gene. So, basically, if black runs in the recessive gene, for a lamb to born black it will have to receive recessive black genes from both parents". Thanks Joel!

Another busy day, we had a lovely school visit this morning from Woodcote Primary School, they saw a lamb being born and our little triplets who are doing really well. They also met Badger too who seemed very happy to be stroked. Badger had to undergo her necessary 'tailing' today, which involves putting a rubber ring on her tail so that it falls off. This helps prevent nasty things like 'fly strike', a real problem in the summer months. Flys lay their eggs on the lambs and if they still have their tail they are more at risk. Have a look at the video, poor Badger, but she was soon up on her feet.

The sheds are just a wonderful place to be at the moment with the sun streaming in, long may this weather continue. Our other job today was putting more lambs outside, one of our favourite jobs!

More tomorrow.

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Day 7 continued...

Here are Paul and Anita from Staffordshire, who were 'shepherds for the day' today - they just helped this ewe lamb her two beautiful girls! We were also joined by Bobbie Nicholls, one of our regular customers at Abingdon Farmers Market who was keen to see the story behind her favourite lamb!

Day 7 - lambing, spring 2012

We couldn't wait to share with you these two photos of our latest very exciting arrival! She is just the sweetest little lamb and so pretty! Well we think so, and we will be keeping her as her Mum is one of our replacement ewes. When she was born, about 10 o'clock last night, Joel and Cameron were up with us in the lambing sheds, who are two local friends who have been keen to help and be involved. Joel gave us a brilliant biology lesson on recessive genes, I will ask Joel to email how he described it to us as it was great and I'm worried that sleep deprivation will not allow me to recount it properly for everyone. Anyway, what is important is we have ended up with our lovely little girl! We need some help with names please!

Monday, 19 March 2012

Day 6 - Lambing spring 2012

Today has been about 10 days rolled into one. It started by walking into the sheds whilst watching the sunrise over the Wittenham Clumps and opening up the doors to the sheds, which feels like opening the curtains! It couldn't have been more atmospheric for Clare who was being a shepherd for the day with us today alongwith Phil and Kinnon who had come back for a second time, it was lovely having them with us today.

It was a busy morning lambing. One lamb had been laid on in the night and another tiny lamb just was not strong enough to make it through either - really sad when we put so much time, energy and emotion into the lambs that need that extra bit of shepherding. We need to get better at remembering there is a barn full of bright, strong lambs doing really well and not just the small ones who we work so hard at keeping alive.

We moved our first group of Mum's and lambs outside which was amazing and a really fun job to do with our visitors. It is always chaos when you let them out of the trailer as they all try and find one another in a new environment and the Mum's are very distracted by the grass!

Our second move was with our ewes and lambs from January, we moved them down the road for the first time, great fun, but slightly high risk, but we managed with the help of a school group of 4 year olds who happened to be out on a trip to the woods, we got them to block off a gate way by all holding hands and giggling, where is the camerea when you need it!

A trip to the butchers was also squeezed in as Mark our neighbour from Dorchester is going to Wallingford market for us tomorrow morning and selling their beef too.

More shepherds for the day tomorrow, one job will be selecting lambs for the next few markets.
Our other job is to start getting the sheds ready for the lambing weekends, putting signs up and explaining everything that is going on to our visitors.

We plan to include a daily update of Henry, who was one of our first orphan lambs, who still hasn't lambed yet but we think it will be rather special when she does. Henry and Molly are great friends, mainly because Molly hands her some extra nuts to eat!

Roly has gone up for his final check and then Akash, one of our lovely vet students is doing the late check at about midnight.

More tomorrow, hopefully the sunshine will be as beautiful as it has been today.

Sunday, 18 March 2012

Day 5 - spring lambing 2012

Last night was quiet, only two sets of twins so this morning we were able to get all the routine jobs done like giving the ewes fresh straw bedding in good time with no distractions. After a slow start this morning we then had an another couple of sets of twins born within 5 minutes. All doing well. Later this afternoon we had a set of twins where one is really is amazing how suddenly all your time can be spent shepherding just one tiny lamb. It is a balance between allowing the bond to form between the ewe and her lamb but also making sure that the lamb has had that vital first taste of colostrum. When a lamb is that small it can struggle to even latch onto the teat, so we have had to give it a lot of time and help.

We were joined this afternoon by some friends, Liam who helped us at Abingdon farmers market on Friday, he has 4 ewes of his own to lamb and helped us this afternoon and lambed his first sheep. He had a big smile on his face, as did his two boys Caleb and Lochie who were looking on fascinated by what their Dad was up to.

Molly has had great fun in the sheds too today as you can see from one of these photos. Mel is doing the night checks for us tonight, amazing, so we are turning in.....

Saturday, 17 March 2012

Day 4 - Spring Lambing 2012

Clean floors, freshly strawed yards, buckets scrubbed - yes our vet students from the Royal Vetinary College have started and we are being well and truly sorted out! We have had some very strong and determined lambs born today, lots of triplets, twins and a few singles. The new large penthouse pens we have installed are proving very popular with the triplets, however as more ewes lamb over the next few days, the lambing barn will be heaving and lambs will be put into the closest pen available! We would like to turn some lambs outside for the first time tomorrow - one of our favourite jobs, but it might have to wait until Monday when the sun is forecast to come out again. Looking forward to another day . . . after some sleep!

Friday, 16 March 2012

Day 3 - Spring lambing 2012

It's been a long but good day. Nine ewes have lambed today, we have had a couple of disappointing losses, but we have also had some cracking lambs born. Tomorrow we will start to move some of the stronger lambs to a nursery yard, before being turned outside for the first time. Thankfully the grass is just starting to grow, which will be helped by a very light dressing of fertiliser kindly applied by our neigbouring arable farmer. Our tractor still has man flu, so struggling on without that, but the Earth Trust are generously hiring us theirs. In between all of this we've also had a Farmers Market in Abingdon today - thank you to Liam for coming to the rescue and manning the stall. Our vet students, Mel and Akash start tomorrow, can't wait. Early start tomorrow, good night!

Thursday, 15 March 2012

Day 2 - spring lambing 2012

It has been a tough day. With still 4 days until the flock should officially start lambing (their due date), any lambs born this early can be small and weak, and that is just what we have experienced today, sadly losing a couple of lambs, we do not have too much to show for all our efforts. Thrown into the mix was attending the Oxford Farmers Market! So a busy day. However, we have ended on a high note, a good strong pair of twins were born at 9pm and up on their feet straight away. What an emotional rollercoster. More tomorrow.

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Day 2 - spring lambing 2012

This morning we had a little surprise, well two surprises! 5 days early we had our first set of twins for the spring. More news tomorrow.