With Spring comes Life. It is a season of hard work on the croft, from calving and lambing to ploughing and sowing. That said, it is one of the most rewarding seasons as we witness new life all around. From the calves and lambs taking tentative first steps to new shoots of grass and crops emerging from the ground. For us crofters these are the best rewards from months of hard graft and nurturing.
Lambing 2022 is now a wrap, and a deep sigh of relief is taken that normal sleep patterns may now resume! As our first lamb of the year hit the ground the continual driving rain and winds that we had experienced for months eased and made way for spring, blue skies and a warming sun across newborn backs.
Any farmer or crofter will testify to the blood, sweat and tears that go into each lambing season; the early mornings, the constant checks, the late nights, the adoptions, the health scares, the lambs that need nursing and the inevitable losses. However among the challenges there is joy to be found in witnessing new life unfold.
From that first breath of island air, to the mothers instinctive nurturing onto their feet and those first tentative steps, all the precious moments that we anxiously await in witnessing a successful lambing unfold where mother nature takes control.
Now don’t get me wrong every lambing does not go this smoothly… there are the gimmers who are a first time mums and decide that actually its not what its cut out to be and you are very welcome to have their lamb! Cue rugby dives across the field to try and catch mum for some mothering education lessons in the nursery pens. There are the twins where one thrives and the other needs nurtured, cue the colostrum powder and late nights in front of the stove nursing a weak lamb back to health. However, these difficult days are soon outweighed with each new arrival and the successes of your efforts to nurture.
Timid lambs that once stood near their mothers for protection grow bold and now enjoy racing across the fields in a pack from one stone gathering to the next, it really is a sight that warms the heart.
As the ewes and lambs are moved onto fresh grass on their summer grazing we now reflect on what challenges and successes lambing brought us this year and plan ahead for next year. Both new developments and increased flock numbers bring lots of opportunities for us also.
For now though we can enjoy watching the lambs grow and thrive on island pastures and sea air!
We run a flock of North Country Cheviot cross Texel ewes, bred for their hardiness, we keep our ewe lambs as replacement stock to build numbers in the flock year on year. This year we introduced a Black Cheviot Tup to run with the Gimmers which has produced some cracking black cheviot lambs. Last year we launched our own lamb boxes meaning all lambs are retained on island for breeding or processing.