Lambing Update, 13th April 2023
13th April 2023 - Jessica Steer, The Rushlade Wool Company
We hope that everyone has had a lovely Easter and enjoyed the fantastic weather we had. Since then the weather has been a test to say the least but as I sit writing this the sun is beaming in through the window and the lambing ewes are looking much more relaxed today, as am I!
There is of course the age old joke about British people talking about the weather but in farming the weather is such a massive make or break factor that it's no surprise that it is on our minds most of the time.
This is our second year lambing this late for a variety of reasons. It's mostly to catch the better weather allowing us to lamb out doors and to coincide with the grass starting to grow so that the freshly lambed ewes have something to eat. When the weather doesn't play ball with this plan it makes for a very different and difficult story..but hey! that's the great British weather and we are so please that we have the rain to make the grass grow and we can't complain about that.
Yesterday was a day of lambs in the kitchen. We started with a Masham gimmer first thing. She was one of a double but unfortunately the ewe had chosen to lamb out in the yard and in the gateway and a chancing fox had snatched one lamb and was seen running off across the field with it. Such a frustrating chance bit of luck for the fox and bad luck for the rest of us. She had a day of care, hot bath, colostrum etc but she isn't right and doesn't have a great prognosis. So is Farming. I also brought in a double in the afternoon, born from a young home bred mule ewe. She had dropped them out across the field and gone back to grazing in lashing wind and rain. One lamb looked completely abandoned and I thought dead and the other had a bit of life in it and had been licked off but was fighting the elements with an inexperienced mother. The ewe took off like a wild horse running around the field with no idea and no sense to follow her lambs so I made the quick decision to bring them in. The lamb in the worst condition went straight into a warm bath to bring her temperature back up and attempt to snatch her from hypothermia. Both had a strong sense to suck so after drying them off and warming them up they had a feed. By the time we had chance to get mum in a pen one of the lambs had found its feet and was escaping his box and running around the kitchen! They've had a night in the pen with mum and much to our relief she hasn't squished either of them yet and they are looking bright and healthy. What a relief! It's easy to get caught up in the lambs that don't make it, the moments you think 'if I had only gone out 5 minutes before' but the realities of nature have to be accepted and we try to remember that there are far more lambs out skipping around the field and thriving than the minority that don't get a good start or don't make it through.
We have a good track record with adoptions too. This is where we pair up ewes who have a lot of milk and/or have lost lambs with orphan lambs or lambs from mothers can't look after them, say a triplet. We didn't have any tame lambs last year as a result and hope for the same this year.
Numbers, the honest answer is I don't know how many have lambed. The last 48hours have been a wet soggy blur. Approaching 25% I would say, I will have a proper count up later!
Lambing is a fantastic, testing, but amazing time of the year and the start of our farming year with new life and excitement everywhere!