Getting organised ready for the new arrivals…

The Field by Tri Stebbing.
As a child there was a game that we played on long journeys in the car: “I packed my bag, and in it I put…” This is what we are doing this week. In preparation for lambing next week, we need to ensure that everything is to hand, both for them and us.
Over recent years, the ewes have given birth during the day, and we have yet to have one lamb at night. Even so, we are now slumming it in the traditional on-site shepherd’s hut, sleeping close to our flock so that the girls can be checked every few hours, day and night.
It pays to be organised, and so our lambing bag is packed and ready. What do we need? The list of contents can be as complicated as you want it to be! Gloves, iodine, bottles, tubes, kick start, replacement colostrum… Then there’s our bag: chocolate, breakfast bars, biscuits, spare torch batteries, warm socks and books to beat the boredom of waiting. If they start during the day, it’s easy to pass the time doing essential jobs over the field. Two years ago, we were tidying the field entrance when we heard a loud scream – one of the first-time lambers had shot out her lamb onto the floor and was looking at it as if to say, “what the heck happened there?!”
We have given ourselves a two-week lambing season this year by leaving the ram in for exactly two weeks. Already the first due is ‘bagging up’, her teats filling and firming up, ready to feed.
These last few weeks are crucial to lamb development, so we have increased feed and access to the lick bucket. By strip grazing and supplementing hay, we are hoping that every need is being met. The older ewes are now finding this last week arduous, and they move only when necessary, choosing to lie comfortably, chewing the cud and waiting for their moment.
The rams moved fields last week, walking beautifully to their new paddock. We had thought that we were going to have a bit of a battle leading them, but as soon as they saw the fresh grass they hopped and skipped to pastures new. Impending fatherhood certainly has not affected Humphrey and co, and they continue to enjoy a chilled life on the hillside of a local village. By the time this is published, hopefully lambing will have started… Prepare to be bombarded with pictures of cute lambs in the next edition!

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