Winter is well and truly here, and it has been a very wet one so far. The ewes are working their way through our reserved grass stocks rather quickly, as they are trampling a lot of it in. As we rotationally graze throughout the year, our time with the sheep is currently spent building and dismantling electric fences for our girls so they can have a fresh bite every three days.
Our rams were separated from the ewes on Christmas Eve - hopefully after being busy for five weeks! Now they can rest up for another eleven months! Ed, our local sheep contractor, will pregnancy-scan our ewes at the beginning of February. This is an exciting time as we find out how many spring lambs we will be expecting.
The last batch of lambs will be off for our meat boxes next week, which marks the end of our fat lambs for this year. In the autumn, we increased our flock by 200 ewes to enable us to have lamb available for our meat boxes all year round as of next summer.
My old, faithful collie, Pip, is approaching double figures this year and seems to be finding farm life rather tiring, so we brought in some help in the shape of younger blood - much to Pip’s disapproval. Jess has been on the farm for a month now and, after a timid start, she is flourishing. Her boundless energy and love of rounding up anything that moves (children included) has made her a pleasure to be around and we are hopeful that she will develop into a great sheepdog. The loyalty of a collie is something that I find very infectious - long may it continue.
We have recently restored eight ponds across the farm in order to create habitats for Great Crested Newts. Selectively clearing trees, allowing light to reach the water surface, has not only improved the odds for the ponds to become a breeding site for this protected species, but it has also opened them up for the mallard, teal, herons and moorhens that regularly visit, which has been enjoyable to see. Our first breeding survey for GCNs will be in the spring, so fingers crossed for then.