Saturday, 9 February 2019

Storm Eric

We've been battling rain and strong winds here in the UK, but lambing goes on. Five ewes have lambed now, and I have 4 ewe lambs and 4 ram lambs (and no more lamb casualties!) I've put the next batch of pregnant ewes in the barn ready to lamb. This morning, it was looking pretty crowded in there-

If I turfed the families out into the icy rain and winds earlier, the ewes would use up energy keeping warm that they need to produce milk. The lambs struggle to stay warm in the wet, more so than in the cold. In the barn there is protection from the elements, plus an all-day hay and grain buffet.

Pasture is as limited as I've ever known it. Every farmer is utilising every corner where grass is growing. Our neighbour usually lets me have a small paddock this time of year, but he's been just as desperate and needed to keep it for his rams.

So, my ewes are now grazing the lawn-

The rain broke this morning so, after chores, I set up a fenced area in the orchard and let four of the ewes out to graze with their lambs. It gives the ewes access to the hedges too, with a mix of plants like ivy and willow, which ewes seem to nibble as a tonic or medication.

Ewe 0007, a first time mother, is still a bit confused and unsure about motherhood. She only has one lamb to cope with, not the usual twins. But, to give her time to strengthen her bond with her baby, I have left her penned in the barn with the yet-to-lamb ewes. I will probably bring a dog to her pen later, which can sometimes kickstart the maternal instincts to protect. I'm sure it will be fine in time, then she can join the others in the orchard.

Around 4pm is when the lambs get playful and I will try and take a video to post - it's very therapeutic watching lamb zoomies.

I'm also being watched while I type this.

Hey Enrique.

The turkeys and chickens are free-ranging again, now that the vegetable garden is fallow. They have been stripping the last of the kale and turning it into lovely eggs with a deep orange yolk. A perfect use for kale after months of eating it ourselves.

We added an extra turkey to the flock too. After raising a few for family, the freezer, and the shoot's Christmas Jumper Competition (first prize, oven ready), Mike pardoned the last hen turkey and she's joined the Narragansett turkeys. This turkey is big and white and ungainly as she free-ranges. I keep calling her Christmas Dinner Turkey. She probably needs a better name,

The bad weather was a good excuse for staying in and reading through seed catalogues. I think it's one of the best ways to spend a dark, wet winter afternoon. I ordered my seeds this morning and if the winds die down, I will continue cleaning out the greenhouse and getting ready for the new growing season.


Jayne Hill said...

It's probably a close run thing who is getting the most pleasure from your new barn - you, or the ewes.

All looking good, and at this time of year - who else will trim your lawn and leave a little bit of fertiliser as a bonus?

Anonymous said...

It’s so nice to look forward to your blog again! Thanks for returning!

Anonymous said...

Must be a relief to have that building for lambing - I remember you talked about the less than warm situations helping an eve lamb in the past... brrrr.

Maria said...

Your lambing barn is ace! and lovely to see so many lambs in there.
May I ask what has lead to the shortage of pasture? too dry a winter? I'm curious.
Also loving your turkey-naming. Enrique made me laugh :-)

Anonymous said...

Missed you. Glad you are back.