A multitude of snowdrops

In the last fortnight, we have moved from frosty, to foggy, to now beautiful sunshine and blue skies. Any rain forecast failed to land on us, and yes, the cycle keeps on turning, and we now need rain!

The snowdrops are out in force in the garden, the leaves are budding on the climbing Rose, and the blossom is budding on the Myrobalan plum at the end of the garden. The Spinney, down by the brook, is looking at its best for a tidy and a prune back. The snowdrops are starting to naturalise, and the winter aconites look perfect in this setting too.

Snowdrops in the spinney

In his Ulula role, Chris has been and returned from the organic food trade show in Nuremberg, and Brendan has experienced Jury service – a first for us all!

This week, the farm team are meeting with the Worcestershire Wildlife Trust to discuss the Local Nature’s Recovery Facilitation Fund. This fund has ambition for landscape-scale regeneration of the farmed environment and local food networks. Regeneration is the new word for “sustainable” after this word was taken over and diluted down by more mainstream use.

We have been bingeing on Clarkson’s Farm. No matter what your personal views on the man, his portrayal of the reality of modern farming is spot on, and hopefully is making those removed from this way of life think a bit more about where their food is grown and about those that farm the land around them.

Turning to the farm, the cows are all doing well; we are still reviewing the decision we need to take regards replacing the bull.

Our focus now is to keep a close eye on the pregnant ewes. Sheep carry their lambs for approximately 145 days or 5 months. This (farming) year the rams joined the ewes on November 5th, Bonfire night, which means that lambing will start around the 1st of April. There is a very useful old country saying: ‘in with a bang and out with the fool’, which is a handy way to remember the length of pregnancy in sheep!

The Dads

Last week the ewes were scanned to see if they’re carrying lambs, and if so, how many. The aim is to have a larger number of twins than singles, and hopefully not too many triplets or quads. This is because ewes have two teats on their udders, so can rear two lambs most comfortably.

After scanning, the ewes were split into groups according to how many lambs they are carrying. This is so we can make sure that the ewes are getting the right diet for their needs. Ewes having single lambs will require less than those carrying twins, for example. A ewe with not enough food, may in turn not produce enough milk to feed her lambs, but an overfed ewe might mean that the lamb is too big to be born easily. It is a balancing act.

The results are down on last year, and slightly disappointing. We have ten empty ewes, and more singles than we want. There are then, also, a number of triplets and quads which will need extra care and time. C’est la vie or plus ça change?  Either way, the sun shone today, and the evenings are drawing out, so we will enjoy what we have. 

“Hope” by Emily Dickinson

Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune–without the words,
And never stops at all,
And sweetest in the gale is heard;
And sore must be the storm
That could abash the little bird
That kept so many warm.
I’ve heard it in the chillest land,
And on the strangest sea;
Yet, never, in extremity,
It asked a crumb of me.

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