As I write this week’s column, we have just started lambing our flock of Pedigree Southdown ewes and, as I stand and look across our lambing field which is bathed in sunlight from the clear blue sky, I am struck by how different the weather is compared to last year’s lambing time.
Last year, during lambing time, we were battling with 8 ft high snow drifts. Like many people, we were completely cut off and it was only after a neighbouring farmer spent 2 days digging with a JCB, that we were able to get vehicles in and out of our road. Snow drifts were above the level of the drystone walls which meant our sheep could not be contained – they could simply walk up the drift, over the wall, and into the next field. The ewes who were due to lamb were all housed in individual pens to shelter from the snow and the yearlings who were not in lamb, were outside and required a huge amount of effort to clear the snow around them and prevent them from being completely submerged.
We were fortunate and, although life was very difficult for a couple of weeks, we managed not to lose any sheep or lambs, but many farmers suffered terrible losses as the sheer volume of snow overwhelmed their efforts.
We had our first lambs born today, a lovely little pair of ram lambs to one of our oldest and most experienced ewes. We try to control our flock so that they all lamb within as short a window as possible, helping us to manage our lambing time more efficiently, so the others should follow on in the next few days. We check our ewes every couple of hours therefore lambing time is a round-the-clock business; fortunately the weather forecast is looking settled and fair for the next few days, and we are hoping for an easier time than last year.