FARMING COLUMN: ‘Lambs behave just like their mums’

by Tria Stebbing

THEN, just like magic, the grass went mad. If we had a flock of 350, we still could not keep up with it.

Having returned the rams back to the home village and left them water, we began driving over and checking on them daily. Recently I went over to check on them and spent some time looking around the paddock panicking thinking they had got lost or escaped. I found them under the oak tree fast asleep in a pile together – they looked at me as if they did not have a care in the world when I scolded them.

We used the three-string electric fence to stop them from straying, but it was not an easy job to put it up around the stinging nettles and brambles. The rams do not go near the fence at all anymore – it is more of a visual deterrent, having got the wrong side of it once or twice does appear to program them to keep away.

Two weeks after spending hours putting the fence up, the grass had grown so tall we could not even see it anymore, let alone the rams. We decided based on the growth that we will cut and bale those paddocks in a few weeks, so went through the whole thing again, catching the rams, taking the fence down and moving them on.

On closer inspection we noticed that despite being doused in repellent, they were covered in ticks. So many around this year – it must be down to the damp, warm conditions.
The lambs are thriving, again despite battling ticks, mastitis and some sore feet caused by the mud impacting between their toes.

They are now developing their own personalities. It is fascinating to watch them develop. The ‘in your face’ ewes have lambs that want your attention as soon as you open the field gate; the ‘just leave me be’ ewes again have reserved lambs that are happy to spy on you from behind the water trough; and the ‘I am bonkers’ ewe – you’ve guessed it, their lambs are so busy doing zoomies around the paddock they rarely stop to feed!

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The wild flowers under the hedge that was laid around the boundary are flourishing – everything seems to be covered in more blossom than ever this year. The hawthorns are in full swing and heavy with blossom, and the elderflower seems to be a bit early.

This weekend’s job will be to spray off the thistle, that like everything else is in fine fettle. We are shortly to add to our menage of animals and the new resident might not appreciate the amount of thistle popping up. They are good pollinators and in Scotland they are the national flower, standing for bravery, strength and luck. My interpretation of this might be that you need to be very brave, have strong gloves and good luck on your side if you decide to try and pull them out by hand.

Buttercups have also had a good year – ranunculus bulbosus flower in early spring. In the language of flowers, the buttercup has the symbolic meaning of growth, good health and attraction – how many of us can remember sitting on the school field holding buttercups underneath the chins of our friends to see if they liked butter.

The flowers reflect off the skin because they are highly reflective, and in a paddock mixed in with the cuckoo flower they are simply spectacular.

A busy few weeks ahead in the field preparing for our new guest. Watch this space for more on the new arrival – what could it be?

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