Kennel Club, Kingfishers and kids!

Following a slow start to the lambing season, the new moon brought in the Chinese year of the sheep in style, with lambs popping out everywhere just in time for our lambing courses.

There were plenty of skinning techniques, adoptions, stomach tubings and mal-presentations to sort out. You can learn some aspects in the classroom, but nothing beats real hands-on experience. Well done to all our lambing graduates, it’s been a busy season! We’ve finally finished lambing with a total of 1350 lambs.

lambingemma

Another great educational resource is television and in March I swapped amniotic-fluid-covered overalls for clean clothes and a hotel room for a four-day lambing break, filming at Crufts.

What a motley crew!

What a motley crew!

Covering a different canine topic each night, Friday’s film helped launch a new initiative from the NFU and The Kennel Club who have teamed up to produce a sign (to be put up around public footpaths) encouraging responsible dog walking in the countryside, advising walkers to worm their dogs and clean up after them to reduce the spread of infection to livestock. More detail can be found here. We have many footpaths through the farm and although the majority of walkers are great, there are always a few dog walkers that cause havoc. Only this week gates have been left open and “dog size” holes cut in fences where lambs can fit through. Hopefully these signs will help.

Our countryside is beautiful and is currently coming to life. Trees are greening up, our Kingfishers are nesting and the first swallows have arrived on the farm, it is a lovely time of year. I wandered down the river this week and was rewarded with this wonderful photo. Farming and wildlife is a natural combination.

Think I've been spotted….

Think I’ve been spotted….

It’s encouraging to see how many keen youngsters there are in the farming industry and local YFC clubs are thriving. However not all farm kids want to continue the family business and it would be unfair to put pressure on them to do so. Daughter Cel has no interest in agriculture as a career. She’s extremely talented in music and the arts and has just taken her options at school with future plans including university. Son Sam on the other hand, hates school, loves farming and with only a few weeks to go before his GCSE’s it’s been very difficult keeping him focused on schoolwork. Every time revision was mentioned during the Easter Holidays, he disappeared chain harrowing. As a result our farm is now looking like a golf course and Sam has been offered work on the back of his impressive straight lines which were spotted from the road. This is on top various other agricultural jobs he’s already juggling. Maybe I’m worrying unduly about his education as he has a great work ethic and driving ambition, not all 16 year olds have that. Like all parents, we just want both kids to happy with whatever choices they make in life.

He's very proud of his straight lines!

Sam is very proud of his straight lines!

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Spring has sprung.

Teenage gangs are appearing around the farm.

Teenage gangs are appearing around the farm.

Spring is finally here after a very soggy February which made lambing difficult. March was kinder and beside sleep deprivation, the lambing season has been successful with over 1000 lambs born so far.

Each lambing course is different as it is a “warts and all” course and sheep are unpredictable. Courses were all busy with plenty of lambs born, stomach tubings, adoptions, lots of learning and…….cider! Here students are learning the art of “skinning”. The skin off a dead lamb was put on an orphan so he’d be accepted by “Mum”. Worked a treat!

skinning

We popped up on the telly a couple of times in March. I had a wonderful new experience reporting on health and welfare issues for Crufts (Channel 4) and we featured in the Lambing Live Farming Families documentary (BBC 2). Great fun filming for both but had to be cleaner and smarter for channel 4! 😉

BBC filmcrew getting agricultural!

BBC filmcrew getting agricultural!

It won’t be long and the cattle will be turned out for the summer months. Bucket reared calves have grown and are now very friendly cows. We have another TB test in May which, if clear, means we can sell from the farm again, fingers crossed.

Friendly cattle

Very much looking forward to our Family Discover Day on the farm at Easter. It’s a joy to see children connecting with the countryside, having fun and getting dirty. Countryside education is important as the link from farm to food seems to have been lost. We’re hoping to play a small part in fixing this.

On a final note, life can get crazy at times and we all need time out, could be as simple as a soak in the bath at the end of a hard day. This is my secret hideaway, glass in hand I can “disappear” for a while and watch the kingfishers flying down the brook. So make sure you take a little time out for yourself to reflect and unwind. Stress causes all sorts of health problems which can sometimes be prevented.

My hideaway

My hideaway