The most important news to share today is that lambing has begun! The first three lambs arrived this afternoon. Official due dates were 1st April, so no wonder perhaps these wanted to get ahead of that date… Boots is known to plan his 1st April escapades at great length!
The barn was organised in time for the new arrivals, and the collecting together of all the items that will be needed, such as iodine (an essential antiseptic and disinfectant that is sprayed on every new born lamb’s navel), was done in good time.
Homeopathy is an important part of our lambing kit. ‘Caulophyllum’ is used to relax muscles if the cervix is slow to open, ‘Aconite’ is useful for fright and stress, and ‘Arnica’ is given for pain and healing if it has been a difficult birth. The remedies are dissolved in water and sprayed on to the ewes when needed. Once lambing has started the ewes will receive ‘Udder Care’ in their drinking water to help prevent mastitis. Another essential remedy is ‘Carbo Veg’. It is known as a reviver, helping lambs if they are not responding, sluggish, in shock, or with low vitality. Obviously, a vet and ‘conventional medicine’ are always used if needed.
So, the night shifts at the lambing shed start in earnest. Chris and Boots have been going up at dusk the last few nights, but we are now ready for the full shifts to begin. We hope for warm nights, sunshine and warm rain for the next fortnight please!
Speaking of, the weather over this fortnight has been ‘four seasons in one day’ – proper spring warmth, to lovely spring rain, to lashing down rain, to snow, to a ground frost this week. We have seen it all at some point. The important thing is that the sun is warm, the temperature is overall, warmer, and the rain have together meant the grass is finally growing.
Not so fast in the glories of the time of year, because the downside of the rain is that cows need to stay in the barn for a bit longer or the ground will become poached immediately.
So many balls to juggle when one is at the power of nature as we so are.
Talking of the cows and juggling, one of the young stock has been discovered to have not received a successful castration when young, which means he is fertile, and now older, causing disequilibrium in the herd. He will be off to market next week. Better news for the herd is that a male calf successfully arrived this week. Son to one of the twins born two years ago.
Finally on the subject of the cows, last week the vet came out to make some essential tests on our cattle, the first of these being PDing (pregnancy detecting) for the cows in the suckler herd, and then two separate blood tests for Johne’s disease and BVD (bovine viral diarrhoea) taken from a cross section of all the cattle. After a relaxed start we were jolted into action by the early arrival of the vet, which was no bad thing as PD and blood samples are a lengthy process, especially with the large herd size at the moment. We were soon up and running however, with the suckler herd walking itself through the cattle crush with no trouble at all – by this stage they have got the hang of it and queue up very politely! Two and half hours later we had run every animal through the race (aside from a few very young calves) with no drama at all, apart from one rather frisky young steer who pushed his way out of the crush before we could get the gate shut – luckily he was content to be walked back around and through again so no harm done other than an adrenaline boost for Chris on the gate. We are awaiting the blood test results but have only two barren cows which is satisfactory. A few empties are always to be expected. Once the last animal had been tested, we packed up and returned for a well-earned cup of tea, and the cows to their fresh hay.
The farm played host to a visit from two of the Stockwood CBS investors who were to be in the area. Adrian loved to meet and show the farm to those interested, and even in the later years of frailty, would always take a moment to say hello. So, it was another threshold we crossed to welcome and show the farm without him here. We managed! Brendan was able to lead the tour and chat, with time to put the world to rights and answer any questions. The sun, which had been threatening to show itself all morning, finally emerged in time for the walk to the barn, and almost a full farm tour was managed, with a good visit to the cows in the barn, and to show off the newly made maternity ward for lambing. With sightings of deer and six hares, and, having waded through quite a lot of muddy puddles (thanks to the clay, a Rush Farm inevitability), a grateful return to the farmhouse for lunch and introductions to the dogs seemed to be the perfect end to a very lovely visit.
The blackthorn blossom is coming into bud, as are the leaves on the hawthorn. The Goat’s Willow is looking splendid in our hedgerows, and the primroses are beautiful; the daffodils up the drive glorious, and a family of bunnies are keeping the Ulula team company!
The clock’s moving forward was as confusing as ever to the dogs and those of us who tried to cling onto the old time. Once it was done, we all agreed, the discombobulation is worth it for the lighter evenings which give us a longer opportunity to enjoy the dusk birdsong. One of the poems shared with us last November seems just right for today.
The cricket sang by Emily DickinsonThe cricket sang,
And set the sun,
And workmen finished, one by one,
Their seam the day upon.
The low grass loaded with the dew,
The twilight stood as strangers do
With hat in hand, polite and new,
To stay as if, or go.
A vastness, as a neighbor, came,—
A wisdom without face or name,
A peace, as hemispheres at home,—
And so the night became.