The one where I introduced a townie to lambing...
Updated: Jul 15, 2020
One very busy weekend at home on the farm plus one very excited housemate
I grew up on a farm, so February and March are always very busy due to the arrival of around 700 lambs. This has always been the only part of farming that I was ever interested in. As soon as I could walk I would wonder round the lambing sheds (apparently looking like a bag of feed due to the waterproof all in one suit mum had made me wear) and because of this I have been knocked over by sheep many a time… even at the age of 20 (as you will find out) it still continues to happen!
Going to uni never changed this interest, as it conveniently marks the half way point of semester 2, so I make that my weekend to go home. This year I had an addition to my visit though, in the form of a very excited housemate that had wanted to experience lambing since the age of 12. Now a second year law student, she may have changed her career ambitions, but her interest in lambing is something that hasn’t faded since the years of wanting to be a vet.
We definitely picked the busiest weekend.
We soon knew we were in for a hectic few days when our first time in the barns saw five deliveries alone, there were too many lambs too handle! Never have we had such a fast lambing season, creating the feeling of a dog chasing its tail as we were constantly running out of hurdles to make pens. It was like a game of Tetris trying to find anywhere for them to go. As quickly as we emptied a pen, there was a fresh delivery to go into it. This meant I ended up having spray painting coloured dots on them so we knew who belonged to who in bigger open areas, so the barn looked more like Pudsey bear’s eye patch by the time I left.
The one element of lambing that I struggle with is the process of getting a sheep down in order to help in the delivery (only if you’re needed of course, half the time they can do it themselves). Although I find it easier now that I’m older and therefore stronger, you can still find yourself running round and round trying to catch them and sometimes the best technique is to literally rugby tackle it to the ground (never a lady-like thing to do). Dee found this out the hard way. I had already attempted to catch a ewe (pregnant sheep in labour), and then she had a go, and I followed behind. The sheep formed a herd and little did we know there was a lone sheep still sat on the floor right in the direction we were running…perfect position to trip us up. Not only did it trip us up, we both ended up face down in the straw, and the sheep in question still hadn’t been caught. Long story short, I got hold her eventually (the sheep, not Dee) and a healthy pair of lambs were delivered.
Dee made the smart decision of backing out of the 4am shifts. I always find these terrifying, as I get it into my head someone is following me which then results in one lone girl nervous singing in the middle of nowhere in the pitch black, not something you see every day! The weekend flew by, and by the time Monday morning came around the early starts and late finishes had definitely taken their toll on us. When we arrived back in Leicester, we were both knackered.
Last week’s ‘Beast from the East’ caused a lot of problems at home, because obviously you can’t continue to put lambs out in the fields if it’s freezing conditions. However, the ‘Beast’ has now gone, and there are only around 80 more ewes to lamb. So not only will my dad’s sanity slowly be restored again, but lambs will be outside, just in time to form the stereotypically spring image that people love to see around Easter…even if lamb is also the roast dinner of choice for the bank holiday weekend.