Lambing Live 2017! Part Two


This week I have been lambing again… My last lambing placement was a very large scale, intensive indoor lambing set-up but I wanted to get some experience of lambing in a different setting. So I did what any young farmer would do and hopped onto the club group chat and started begging for work experience!
I eventually managed to get myself a couple of days lambing with one of the young farmers so I went there on Tuesday ready for a whole different kind of lambing…
I spent a lot of time riding around on the ATV and opening gates which is as to be expected when you’re lambing a fairly large flock outdoors. We moved lots of ewes and lambs in the trailer, I had already seen docking and castration at my indoor placement as well as marking the sheep. (For the record I don’t have a very good relationship with stock marker - last time I ended up with completely blue arms that made me look like I had been in a bad fight! This time I ended up with orange and blue arms, but it is nowhere near as bad as last time…) But this time I also learned about crutching the ewes to prevent maggots getting to them. At this farm, the crutching is done with hand shears after the ewe has lambed and before she is turned out with her lambs.
It is a lot harder to catch the ewes outdoors when they need help than it is indoors...
My favourite part of lambing (which is definitely not most farmers’) favourite part of lambing is the cade lambs. I absolutely love cade lambs. There was probably only a dozen or so at the time I was there but they are so playful and I loved feeding them.
I also helped to feed the ewes that were being kept in for various reasons (generally birthing complications) and give them water. They were being fed silage with pellets and I can tell you know that I have learnt the hard way that there are thistles in silage!!
Something really interesting, although not very pleasant, I saw was the technique of skinning a ewe’s dead lamb to make a jacket for a cade lamb. I’m sure that most of you know about this already but for anyone who hasn’t heard of this, I will run through my limited understanding of it…
A ewe that has lost a lamb can foster a cade lamb but sometimes she won’t take to it. If a ewe rejects a cade lamb and doesn’t have a dead lamb then the most popular option is to put the ewe in a lamb adopter (which I think is the sheep equivalent of stocks - as in the medieval kind), however if she does have a lamb that was stillborn or that didn’t make it you can use the skinning method. You have to try to remove the skin of the dead lamb in one piece with holes for the head and legs, ideally without getting any blood on it. Then the jacket that you have fashioned should be fitted onto the cade lamb you are adopting. This makes the lamb smell like one of the ewe’s own and thus she is more likely to accept it. You should aim to take the jacket off within 24 hours or so to prevent a smell… (If I have got any of this wrong please let me know!)
This way of lambing was quite different to my experience indoors but it was very educational and I feel that I have got a good grip on lambing now!

Worcestershire Hunt Point to Point - Chaddesley Corbett 2017


Yesterday we headed down to Chaddesley Corbett Racecourse for the Worcestershire Hunt point to point. It has been a couple of years since we have been to the point to point there as we haven’t been pointing that much in the last few years (except last year!) but we have been there before and it’s always a great one!

We packed our table (with table cloth), chairs and picnic, which consisted largely of Ragley produce (i.e. the entirety of the Hillers deli counter), tabbouleh salad, homemade lemon drizzle cake and some other bits and pieces and set off to the races.
We arrived at the point to point for 1 pm, an hour before the first race and parked up our cars. There were already lots of people there so we set out our picnic and tucked in.
Then we headed up the hill for the first time to go and check out the different trade stands and have a look at the horses for the first race. There were so many young farmers there and I even bumped into the farmer I went lambing with by the bookies.

We watched the first race from the top of the hill with no bets placed and then decided we were ready to pick a winner! We made our first selection for the second race and I headed to the bookies with my Dad to place our first bet. There is great visibility of the course from the top of the hill - you can virtually see it all the way around… Unfortunately, this didn’t assist us with selecting a winner but we crossed our fingers for the next race!

I picked our horse for the next race, Dad placed the £5 bet and we walked down the hill to watch the race… We walked down right to the track to watch the race, and to our great surprise, our horse won!

With £15 in winnings, we were feeling confident but we were rushed on making our choice for the next race. Somehow, we messed up and ended up betting on the wrong horse for the Lady Dudley Cup, it was a fantastic race but it’s safe to say we didn’t win. We had broken even on our bets and wins so decided to quit with the betting while we weren’t behind (not very confident that we would ever get ahead!)...

We watched the second to last race from the car and then headed off home to beat the influx of cars leaving at the end of the day…

Overall, it was a fantastic day and I want to thank everyone who organised it for putting it on. I look forward to Chaddesley Corbett 2018!

Washing the Goats and Horses


Today we went up to the yard to do the ‘spring baths’... This is not something lightly undertaken on a yard of now three Pygmy Goats and two horses (one being 16.1hh and the other being 17.2hh).
We started off with the goats, seeing as they are the smallest and more feisty of the animals meaning we were more likely to be soaked. With Beattie being a new edition to the yard this year (see my previous blog post for more on that), we decided to do the two boys first and leave her to last. I trimmed their feet which was a relative success and only resulted in one casualty, being a minor battle wound to my hand. Then we got on to washing them, despite some general fighting and jumping about they were quite good about it. They always have more of a spring in their step after a bath, it must feel good to get all of the dust build up out of their coats. Beattie was very well behaved for her first bath and her feet are starting to get some good growth after they were in such bad condition when we got her.

The next big task of the day was to bath the horses. This is a doddle compared to the goats as they aren’t nearly as wriggly! We wash all of the animals with tea tree shampoo which leaves them smelling fresh and gets them very clean. 

I cut Oliver’s tail as it was getting very long but didn’t want to take too much off as we’re coming up to horse fly season soon (oh the joys of neem oil!) but didn’t tackle the almighty job of mane trimming. Last time I got the solo comb out after a long day I was accused of making Joshua look like ‘the village idiot’ so I think we will save that for another day when we have more time…

During the day we also ‘rolled’ the fields. I say rolled tentatively as we were using our neighbours old grey Fergie with a crate of water containers hooked up. It’s no high-tech operation but it did its job of flattening the fields nevertheless.

Overall it was a very productive day and I look forward to getting the horses fit for the summer over the next few months (once we’re all done with exams and rally!)...

Women in Agriculture - a piece for Farmland


I recently wrote a piece for farmland magazine that was published in their latest edition. I really enjoyed writing a piece to promote women in agriculture... I didn't know how many of you had had access to the magazine so I thought I would post it here for you to read. You can read the magazine here as there are some great pieces in it! 
Without further ado, here is the post: 

These days as young girls we are told that we can do anything. We can be teachers, lawyers, doctors, firefighters, anything we want! So why are so few young girls considering a future in farming? They say that farming is the biggest job on the planet so why leave women out of it?

Many girls struggle to get into farming because they are told that it isn’t a woman’s job, it’s too demanding or they aren’t capable. When in fact, women can be just as strong and just as capable as men. Some of my friends say that when they’re out and about in their wellies and boiler suits that everyone presumes that they are horsey and not farmers, just because they are girls. It is important to open people’s minds up to the idea of women in agriculture, so it becomes more commonplace and is more widely accepted.

Another friend of mine was studying Agriculture at College but decided to switch to doing an Animal Science degree specialising in Agriculture as it would give her more opportunities than she would have gotten as a female farmer. Sexism definitely does exist in the industry in simple ways such as a lack of good quality, affordable and durable work clothes for women that are readily available for men. I know that we are starting to break through the barrier but we are far from being rid of the problem.

There are so many inspirational women to look up to in the industry doing great things for farming, especially in the UK. One of the women that inspires me is Amanda Owen (Author of The Yorkshire Shepherdess) but there are so many more out there! It is important for any girls interested in the agricultural industry not to be put off by antiquated responses towards a career in farming. If you are a young person trying to make your way in agriculture I would say don’t give up, you have to step out of your shell and show them what you can do!

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