Thursday, 31 March 2016

Straw, hand cream and other lambing inside knowledge

Hello. I’m Emma and I'm very honoured to be Camilla and Roly’s first guest blogger. I’ve been helping out at the farm for two and a half years now, learning so much and feeling very lucky to be part of such a wonderful team.

We’re really looking forward to the Lambing Open Weekends. They’re a wonderful opportunity to share beautiful Saddlescombe Farm and to provide a bit of insight into the farming life.

In that spirit of sharing, here are some things we might forget to mention.

We have straw everywhere. Clean beds are amazingly effective against all sorts of diseases. “Bedding up” is when you spread straw to create that cosy, clean environment that’s essential for ewes and lambs to flourish, and we do it twice a day for everyone. But when I say we have straw everywhere I actually mean… well, something a bit more personal, directly linked to all that bedding up. It’s up our noses. In our belly buttons. Providing a ring round the bath. Carpeting our homes. Think of us as we itch.

We have strong opinions on hand cream. As in any hospital, we spend all day washing our hands. Covered with afterbirth, stained with the iodine we use to disinfect the newborns’ umbilical cords, then scrubbed with antibacterial soap, the skin on our hands gradually takes on the softness of coarse sandpaper. Enter the hand cream. Feel free to ask us for a recommendation. I can guarantee we’ll have one.

That’s not thousand yard stare, that’s thousand bum stare. We have spent weeks on end looking at sheeps’ bottoms. As soon as they get ‘crutched’ – their pre-lambing backside tidy-up – the season of the sheep butt begins. As we patrol the fields of expectant mums, we’re searching out prolapses, water sacs, difficult presentations – all only visible to the keen student of the ovine rump. Catch us looking into the distance, and it’s more than likely there’s a fleecy rear end involved.

And finally, I might forget to mention my own little secret. When a newborn lamb covered in birth fluid disgustedly shakes itself, its ears make a wet slapping against its head. That’s my favourite sound of lambing. It means the lamb is ok, that it’s going to try to make it, that it has fire in its belly. It’s a tiny noise with huge implications.

There, now you’ve got the inside track on the lambing team. Come along to the open weekends to meet us and the amazing ewes and lambs who make it all possible.

Emma, with thanks to Camilla, Roly, Molly, Freddie and Belle.

Wednesday, 30 March 2016

Lambing and calving 2016

And we're off! I remember last year feeling like we were waiting for our first lambs to appear and everything felt a bit twitchy as we almost felt too ready! Not the case this time! Our lovely vet student Sylvie arrived and already about 30 ewes had lambed and the mothering pens were busy filling up.

Everything and everyone slots into lambing mode as pens get built, water pipes connecte, passageways get swept and straw and hay appear in places you never knew existed.

Henry our first orphan lamb from when we farmed in Oxfordshire, had a beautiful set of twins yesterday, well done her. The girls who are expecting triplets really are beginning to struggle to walk but seem happy to when they know its supper time!

Our Lambing Open Days are this weekend and next (2nd, 3rd, 9th and 10th April), please come and join us and enjoy a day out on the farm with our amazing sheep and in our beautiful surroundings.

Finally, I couldn't resist including a picture of one of our beautiful calves.

More soon and perhaps from some guest bloggers!

Camilla, Roly, Molly, Freddie and Belle