Monday, 17 May 2021

Spring news from Saddlescombe

These are the last set of triplets to arrive, all 3 girls, future mums and this ewe is an amazing mum so she is rearing all 3.  They are doing really well!

What a strange start to spring it was, really cold and really dry.  It felt like we had more frosts in April than we did during the whole of winter!  It has meant the grass has been very slow to grow so we were getting a bit concerned about the ewes with their lambs not having enough grass to keep up with the demanding milk production.  Eventually the rain came and things have now greened up again and the hawthorn blossom is starting to burst, the cow parsley is growing taller by the day (one of my favourites) and everything around us feels fresher and able to breathe and it is a little bit warmer.

We had a tricky start to lambing this year with an unfortunate dog incident, we lost 2 ewes and 9 lambs through abortions.  All very distressing for everyone and a few more unexplained losses after that which we had checked out with our vets with no clear reason.  Once we properly got going everything began to feel better and we've got some super lambs growing well now out in the fields.  We were very lucky to have wonderful vet students again, Celeste and Ellie, who learnt very quickly and got involved straightaway.  As per every year we are left with lambs with names who became favourites but fun to spot them out in the field.  Real character this year is Piggles, born with the strangest looking ears any of us has ever seen!  No open days again or shepherds for a day, very strange not sharing such a special time of year with lots of visitors, but we will really look forward to next year.  We have started to enjoy having small groups out to visit from Grow which has felt really good to begin sharing what we are dong in person again.

This is Splodge, one of our favourite cows with her bull calf.  He is her 5th calf.

As I write we have 2 cows left to calve.  Cows who have calved are all together with last years calves (yearlings), steers (castrated males), and bulling heifers (females who will go to the bull for the first time this summer).  This is the first time we have run all the different groups as one, this is all part of our journey to practising regenerative agriculture.  They have been making their way round one of our larger fields which we have divided up into sections, each one they are in for a day or two before being moved on.  This allows where they have grazed to properly rest, recover and regrow and importantly photosynthesise and capture carbon and store it in the soil where it belongs.  Our cows and many other herds who are practising the same are part of the solution to carbon through this type of practice, it is exciting times to be practically doing something towards climate change in this way.  We are members of Pasture for Life Association who represent farmers who are purely grass fed and practising many principles of regenerative agriculture.  It is a fantastic community and we are learning so much.

A photo to illustrate how we are dividing up the grazing fields, the section to the right they will move across into.  Their current section will be allowed to rest for a long period.

We need to do some revision with Teddy our young sheepdog now lambing is over, he is such a powerful dog and needs some reminders!  We are looking forward to working with him properly again and building up our and his confidence, it is so rewarding when it goes well!

More soon

Camilla, Roly, Molly, Freddie, Fly and Ted