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Country diary: Lambing is in full swing on the farm | Andrea Meanwell
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Country diary: Lambing is in full swing on the farm | Andrea Meanwell

There is one little yow and lamb that are having trouble getting their feeding established, so I gently sit the yow on her bottom and lean her back against my legs. She doesn’t struggle – once a sheep’s feet are off the ground, she knows she cannot escape and sits quietly. Now I can lift the lamb on to her teat and watch as he guzzles down the milk, tail spinning and whole body moving in time with his sucking.

Later, I will try to put him underneath the yow while holding her between my legs, and over a few days they will work out how to feed independently. They will then move from a small pen into a larger pen with other sheep and lambs, and he will have to learn to recognise his mother in a crowd.

An Ouessant lamb being fed.View image in fullscreen

Once he can do this, the little duo will go outside and live for the summer in the paddocks around the farmhouse, coming into the pens occasionally for health checks, but largely living a carefree life that allows them to exhibit their natural behaviour.

There are 10 sheep pens lined up against the wall in the sheep shed, ready for those that need a helping hand like this: a big pen of sheep waiting to lamb, and a smaller pen where they are learning to live in groups. Only our small rare breed – the Ouessant sheep – lamb inside like this, as we know from experience that they are in danger of being dive-bombed by large birds if they lamb outside.

The lamb pens are made of recycled farm plastic. They do not have the visual appeal of my previous old-fashioned wooden ones, but they are much easier to clean between uses. A local company, Solway Recycling, collects used farm plastic and turns it into a range of products for farmers to buy.

We are trying to be as sustainable as possible on the farm, and this week, while lambing is in full swing, there are also local Herdwick wool carpets being fitted in one of the farm cottages and solar panels being put on the old shippon roof.

The solar panels were identified as part of a council-funded farm carbon audit, and the council is part-funding the solar array and batteries to allow us to reduce the farm’s carbon footprint.

Source: theguardian.com