Thursday, 3 May 2012

Lambing up North

These past few weeks I have been working on my uncle’s farm in Northumberland, which is where I go most holidays. This is my diary which I kept while I was up north. Tuesday 3rd April 2012 I got up at around 7am and with my Grandfather went along to the main farm to collect the feed for the cattle and sheep to take to my uncle’s other holding called Rock. Granddad checks this farm every day. By the time we returned the snow was starting to fall. It was cold!!!! L We still had get on with jobs. I lambed about 6 ewes today. 4 of them were triplets so they had three lambs inside. The other two were twins. I gave them an injection and put some iodine on the navel. I had to go in about 4 pm because it was so cold (I’ll have to harden up!). Wednesday 4th April 2012 Today I lambed about four ewes. They were all twins. One of the ewe’s lambs came out backwards but they were still alive. The shepherd and I put the big pens up in what we call the hay barn. These pens are for when the lambs have been docked (which is when you put a ring around its tail) and numbered and before they go out to the field. These pens are my responsibility which means I have to check them, fill the buckets up with water, put hay in each pen and make sure the ewes and lambs are all mothered up. I will have to do this twice a day. I put the ewes and lambs into the pens putting different breeds in separate pens and depending on whether or not they are twins or singles. Thursday 5th April 2012 On a Thursday I usually go to Acklington Mart to sell sheep but because we have nothing to sell I stayed at the farm and helped with the lambing. I did not lamb many ewes today because most of the ewes lambed themselves. The shepherd today was taking the first lot of ewes and lambs to the hill. The lambs love going out to the grass and the ewes like the grass as they have been inside for over 2 weeks. Good Friday Today we have brought the rest of the ewes that need to lamb down to the farm. There were 40 single Blackface ewes and about 120 twins. We also took another couple of ewes and lambs out to the hill from the pens that I mentioned yesterday. We took about 2 loads of Cheviot ewes with Texel cross lambs and 1 load of Blackface ewes with mule lambs. I love it when they start charging around the field; I would hate to stand in the middle of the stampede because you would get run over. We also put clean straw in with the ewes that are still to lamb because I would not like to be the lamb being born on dirty straw. Tomorrow I will be lambing some more ewes and doing all the usual jobs. Easter Sunday As it was Easter Sunday we went out for lunch. My grandparents and I were lucky to be invited to a relative’s house. But I still had to get my jobs done. I went to the farm at about 7:30 and did all the necessary work. Then my grandfather picked me up and we were off for lunch. It was brilliant. Tuesday 10th April 2012 Today the weather was terrible but we had a busy night. This meant we had to move some ewes and lambs out into some fields, even though we would have preferred to keep them in for another 24 hours we had to take them up the hill and free some space in the shed. We luckily did not find any dead lambs from doing so. I put some little bales in the big pens so the lambs can shelter behind so they do not get too wet. Wednesday 11th April 2012 I got up around 7am and went along to the farm. Last night our night lamber had quite a busy night. This meant that I had to stay at the one farm instead of going with my grandfather to the other holding. I got all my jobs done and I started to scratch the lambs for orf. We had a lot of ewes and lambs in as the weather was so horrible yesterday. We got most of the ewes and lambs out and then I bedded the big pens. Tomorrow is market day, so we went and drew 25 old season lambs which will go tomorrow. After we drew the lambs, we went back to the main farm and drew 10 ewes. Thursday 12th April I got up at 6:45 and left the house at seven. We first loaded the ewes and then went along to the store lambs and loaded them. We got to Acklington mart at 8:30. We unloaded and the drover put them into the sorting area. The lambs are sold first at about 9:15 but before that I had my breakfast. I had a bacon bun. You cannot beat bacon buns from the mart. I am used to helping at the mart when I go up north. I push the lambs into the ring. Our 25 old season lambs averaged £85.25 which was good but our top weight was 62kg which made £102. Our top price for a ewe was £160 for a very big Texel. We averaged £91.30 which is good for ewes. We went home feeling pleased with the prices. Also I have nothing but good reviews about Country Tastic at the Three counties Show today. My cousins went to the show and they thought it was fantastic especially the pigs and donkeys. Friday 13th April 2012 Through the night our night lamber had lambed over 30 ewes with about 50 to 60 lambs. This meant I had to do my jobs quickly and then go and put some ewes in the pens after they had been cut. When I say cut, I do not mean that they are having a hair cut but having their tail cut by putting a rubber ring around the tail. The tail just drops off in the field a couple of weeks later. If it is a male lamb it means also putting a rubber ring around their testicles to castrate them. Some farmers do not bother putting rubber rings around the testicles because they think they can get more meat on them leaving them uncastrated. My cousin who is a jockey had a race today and she did really well as it was her first proper race as she does a lot of point to pointing normally. This meant that my uncle went to see her leaving one of the shepherds checking the stock on the hill and the other shepherd taking the ewes and lambs up to the hill. This meant I was in charge of the lambing sheds for a couple of hours. In 2 hours I lambed over 20 ewes and about 36 lambs were delivered. I go back home in the morning. I’ll miss helping out in the North but I’m looking forward to seeing my family and seeing how my own sheep are growing. Jack

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