In this month’s edition Michael is surprised to find a new born lamb amongst his flock, reflects on previous lambing seasons and plants a shelterbelt of Walnut trees on the farm.

For anyone reading this month’s diary expecting to hear about a whole list of pre-lambing checks and procedures Im afraid you will be disappointed.  It has been a very hands-off month as far as the sheep have been concerned, they have been left pretty much to themselves.

I am not due to start lambing until the start of April, and I know there can always be a few lambs that arrive early, but I was surprised to find a new born lamb as I checked the ewes one frosty morning.  It was perfectly happy and healthy, and a decent size, and I was wondering whose Ram had jumped in with my ewes without me noticing back in September, how many he had tupped, and panicking about how unprepared I was for lambing, when I noticed that the mother was not one of my flock.  One of my neighbours ewes obviously wanted some of my grass and had somehow got in with my flock, so I was able to return her along with her new lamb.  It reminded me how nice it is to see a healthy new lamb that has been born with no assistance, but it was also a warning that I should be prepared for lambing to start anytime!

My first year of lambing, 2013, was quite a baptism of fire, with sleet, hail, freezing winds, no shelter, and a 6 week old baby back at home to contend with, all of which combined to produce an exhausting but unforgettable few weeks.  Each year since then I have improved my system slightly, and this year I have finally got round to planting a shelterbelt of trees at the exposed end of my lambing field.  It will probably take ten years or so until the trees are big enough to make a difference, but farming is all about planning ahead!  Some of the trees I have planted are walnuts, so I will either get a crop of walnuts or more probably a bumper crop of squirrels in years to come.

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To read Michael’s previous shepherd’s diary posts and his other Indie Farmer stories click here