Monthly Archives: April 2015

Tek care, Lambs ont road.

I was going to call this piece “dogging”, because that’s what it’s about but I decided to approach things from a somewhat different angle.


Way back I remember somebody writing that they were walking in the countryside and could see in the distance somebody ploughing. As they walked along the path that ran beside the field they obviously fell into some romantic daydream about honest sons of the soil working in their own rural idyll, cut off from the pressures and hurly burly of the twentieth (as it was then) century.

Except that as they got to where the tractor was turning on the headland they could hear Radio 2 coming from the tractor radio. They suddenly realised just how pervasive and all embracing modern culture is.

It’s the same with the sign, ‘Tek care, Lambs ont road.’ Because of the need to have broadband to run a business, and the fact that coverage extends out even into some rural areas, Facebook and suchlike have penetrated even into the depths of rurality.

Facebook memes and pictures of cute cats are as likely to be familiar in hidden villages as they are in Central London.

Thus it might be literally impossible for a Cumbrian Sheep-farmer to write a sign which says “Lambs on the road, please take care.” At the very least a sense of ironic post modernism would drive him to use the more ‘traditional’ message.

This of course leads us to ask what the lambs are doing on the road in the first place. Well it boils down to two facts, lambs are small and they are inquisitive. So when they’re not hungry they’ll wander about poking their noses into things. This means they can unwittingly creep through gaps that aren’t really there. Suddenly they’re not in the field, they’re on the road, and mum isn’t in sight and they’re starting to feel peckish. At this point there’s a lot of frantic bleating as they try and work out where mum is and pick the shortest practical route to her.

Now it sometimes happens that people wander along and find a lamb asleep or in the wrong place, without its mother. I’ve known them pick the lamb up, carry it miles to the nearest farm and hand it to the farmer because they feel it obviously needs looking after. But unless the lamb is physically trapped, or ostentatiously injured, it almost certainly doesn’t. If you leave it there, at some point mum will wander over, or the lamb will feel peckish and wander back to mum. By moving it all that happens is that the lamb now smells of you. When you give it to the farmer it then starts smelling of him, and even if he can find the mother, the mother is going to be a bit suspicious of this strange smelling creature that he’s presenting her with.

That being said (for those of you who’re wondering when I’m going to start writing about dogging) there can be times when you do have to move ewes and lambs and the lambs can be a nightmare if they get themselves turned round and suddenly cannot find mum. At which point they’ll set off at speed in the direction they think mum ought to be.

From my experience yesterday a lamb can run at about 16mph. I cannot. However on the quad (which has a speedometer so I have a fair idea of the speed everything was moving at) I can keep up with the little beggar. That being said it has a turning circle a lot tighter than mine. But this is where your dog comes in. Sal, our Border Collie bitch seems to be able to run at 27mph, at least for a short while. She can do 16mph while looking back over her shoulder to see if I’m following. (To be fair she really shouldn’t. The time when she inadvertently ran into a middle aged and utterly respectable ewe was an embarrassment to both dog and sheep.) Her turning circle is also on a par with the lambs.

Hence as the lamb sets off for the further horizon, moving at least 16mph, both dog and I set off after it. And this is where the ‘dogging’ starts because Sal will dog the lamb, keeping up with it, trying to turn it back to me or at least trap it in a corner where I can finally catch it. It’s something of a battle of wits between the two animals as the lamb isn’t as afraid of the dog as you might think and will happily try and nip behind it or jump over it or generally out manoeuvre it. Still we finally caught the little beggar and with it under one arm we went to catch up with the rest of them, moved them all through the gate, put the lamb back with the flock and left them to it.


Learn from the expert (available in paperback or ebook)


As a reviewer commented, “This is the third collection of farmer Jim Webster’s anecdotes about his sheep, cattle and dogs. This one had added information on the Lake District’s World Heritage status. This largely depends upon the work of around 200 small family farms. Small may not always be beautiful but it can be jolly important. If you want to know the different skills needed by a sheep dog and a cow dog, or to hear tales of some of the old time travelling sales persons – read on! This is real life, Jim, but not as I know it.”

The importance of po-faced critics


Is it just me, but whenever I hear a spokesman from ASH (Action on Smoking and Health) on the radio I get this urge to dash out and buy a packet of twenty cigarettes! And I’ve never smoked and don’t intend to.

It was the same with the latest comments somebody made about rugby. Somebody stands up and starts preaching about how dangerous rugby is and I come over all old fashioned and start ranting about how it teaches team work and a lot of other values.

And at school I never particularly liked rugby and played it as little as I could. In my case it wasn’t the mindless violence or the chance of injury, it was the fact that they made me play without my glasses, which meant I never had a lot of idea what was going on. I spent my career as a second row forward semi-detached from the game. As an aside they finally gave up trying to make me play rugby when for once the ball came to me. I looked round, realised I’d not been paying attention and just drop kicked it into touch.

After that they left me playing soccer. This I did wearing glasses. Obviously it meant I wasn’t able to head the ball. Given that I was tall, there was a feeling afoot that I ought to be up there heading balls, but I couldn’t see the sense in it to be honest. As it was I managed to go through my entire footballing career without once heading the ball.

But anyway, one po-faced ‘expert’ telling people to avoid certain sports and I suddenly and against my better nature become an enthusiastic defender of them; is this a common occurrence?
I’m still trying to work out the social dynamics of the phenomenon. Obviously out in the harsh cruel world there are lots of people who get their kicks from stopping other people doing things that they personally don’t approve of. Whether they use their ‘victim-hood’ or their qualifications, it seems they have to validate their existence by stopping other people enjoying themselves.

But having noted a problem, have I a solution? Well actually I have. The ‘un-rest cure’.

This came to me this morning. I was travelling by quad bike through a field full of sheep, Sal our Border Collie trotting alongside, when I noticed on ewe lying still. Everybody else was up and moving and she wasn’t. So I made my way towards her, and Sal, ever officious in her duties, also made her way across. The ewe never moved. Sal approached her and sniffed the ewe’s nose. At that point the ewe woke up and the expression on her face as she stared eye to eye with a Border Collie, was priceless. It certainly got the adrenaline surging and the blood flowing and instantly she was up on her feet and with the others, moving like a good-un. There you are; the un-rest cure.

But the credit is not mine but Saki’s.

His career sadly cut short by the First World War, he left us some nice work and he’s well worth looking out for.

In case you’ve never heard of him here is his ‘The Unrest-Cure’.


The Unrest-Cure

On the rack in the railway carriage immediately opposite Clovis was a solidly wrought travelling bag, with a carefully written label, on which was inscribed, “J. P. Huddle, The Warren, Tilfield, near Slowborough.” Immediately below the rack sat the human embodiment of the label, a solid, sedate individual, sedately dressed, sedately conversational. Even without his conversation (which was addressed to a friend seated by his side, and touched chiefly on such topics as the backwardness of Roman hyacinths and the prevalence of measles at the Rectory), one could have gauged fairly accurately the temperament and mental outlook of the travelling bag’s owner. But he seemed unwilling to leave anything to the imagination of a casual observer, and his talk grew presently personal and introspective.

“I don’t know how it is,” he told his friend, “I’m not much over forty, but I seem to have settled down into a deep groove of elderly middle-age. My sister shows the same tendency. We like everything to be exactly in its accustomed place; we like things to happen exactly at their appointed times; we like everything to be usual, orderly, punctual, methodical, to a hair’s breadth, to a minute. It distresses and upsets us if it is not so. For instance, to take a very trifling matter, a thrush has built its nest year after year in the catkin-tree on the lawn; this year, for no obvious reason, it is building in the ivy on the garden wall. We have said very little about it, but I think we both feel that the change is unnecessary, and just a little irritating.”

“Perhaps,” said the friend, “it is a different thrush.”

“We have suspected that,” said J. P. Huddle, “and I think it gives us even more cause for annoyance. We don’t feel that we want a change of thrush at our time of life; and yet, as I have said, we have scarcely reached an age when these things should make themselves seriously felt.”

“What you want,” said the friend, “is an Unrest-cure.”

<  2  >

“An Unrest-cure? I’ve never heard of such a thing.”

“You’ve heard of Rest-cures for people who’ve broken down under stress of too much worry and strenuous living; well, you’re suffering from overmuch repose and placidity, and you need the opposite kind of treatment.”

“But where would one go for such a thing?”

“Well, you might stand as an Orange candidate for Kilkenny, or do a course of district visiting in one of the Apache quarters of Paris, or give lectures in Berlin to prove that most of Wagner’s music was written by Gambetta; and there’s always the interior of Morocco to travel in. But, to be really effective, the Unrest-cure ought to be tried in the home. How you would do it I haven’t the faintest idea.”

It was at this point in the conversation that Clovis became galvanized into alert attention. After all, his two days’ visit to an elderly relative at Slowborough did not promise much excitement. Before the train had stopped he had decorated his sinister shirt-cuff with the inscription, “J. P. Huddle, The Warren, Tilfield, near Slowborough.”


Two mornings later Mr. Huddle broke in on his sister’s privacy as she sat reading Country Life in the morning room. It was her day and hour and place for reading Country Life, and the intrusion was absolutely irregular; but he bore in his hand a telegram, and in that household telegrams were recognized as happening by the hand of God. This particular telegram partook of the nature of a thunderbolt. “Bishop examining confirmation class in neighbourhood unable stay rectory on account measles invokes your hospitality sending secretary arrange.”

“I scarcely know the Bishop; I’ve only spoken to him once,” exclaimed J. P. Huddle, with the exculpating air of one who realizes too late the indiscretion of speaking to strange Bishops. Miss Huddle was the first to rally; she disliked thunderbolts as fervently as her brother did, but the womanly instinct in her told her that thunderbolts must be fed.

<  3  >

“We can curry the cold duck,” she said. It was not the appointed day for curry, but the little orange envelope involved a certain departure from rule and custom. Her brother said nothing, but his eyes thanked her for being brave.

“A young gentleman to see you,” announced the parlour-maid.

“The secretary!” murmured the Huddles in unison; they instantly stiffened into a demeanour which proclaimed that, though they held all strangers to be guilty, they were willing to hear anything they might have to say in their defence. The young gentleman, who came into the room with a certain elegant haughtiness, was not at all Huddle’s idea of a bishop’s secretary; he had not supposed that the episcopal establishment could have afforded such an expensively upholstered article when there were so many other claims on its resources. The face was fleetingly familiar; if he had bestowed more attention on the fellow-traveller sitting opposite him in the railway carriage two days before he might have recognized Clovis in his present visitor.

“You are the Bishop’s secretary?” asked Huddle, becoming consciously deferential.

“His confidential secretary,” answered Clovis. “You may call me Stanislaus; my other name doesn’t matter. The Bishop and Colonel Alberti may be here to lunch. I shall be here in any case.”

It sounded rather like the programme of a Royal visit.

“The Bishop is examining a confirmation class in the neighbourhood, isn’t he?” asked Miss Huddle.

“Ostensibly,” was the dark reply, followed by a request for a large-scale map of the locality.

Clovis was still immersed in a seemingly profound study of the map when another telegram arrived. It was addressed to “Prince Stanislaus, care of Huddle, The Warren, etc.” Clovis glanced at the contents and announced: “The Bishop and Alberti won’t be here till late in the afternoon.” Then he returned to his scrutiny of the map.

<  4  >

The luncheon was not a very festive function. The princely secretary ate and drank with fair appetite, but severely discouraged conversation. At the finish of the meal he broke suddenly into a radiant smile, thanked his hostess for a charming repast, and kissed her hand with deferential rapture. Miss Huddle was unable to decide in her mind whether the action savoured of Louis Quatorzian courtliness or the reprehensible Roman attitude towards the Sabine women. It was not her day for having a headache, but she felt that the circumstances excused her, and retired to her room to have as much headache as was possible before the Bishop’s arrival. Clovis, having asked the way to the nearest telegraph office, disappeared presently down the carriage drive. Mr. Huddle met him in the hall some two hours later, and asked when the Bishop would arrive.

“He is in the library with Alberti,” was the reply.

“But why wasn’t I told? I never knew he had come!” exclaimed Huddle.

“No one knows he is here,” said Clovis; “the quieter we can keep matters the better. And on no account disturb him in the library. Those are his orders.”

“But what is all this mystery about? And who is Alberti? And isn’t the Bishop going to have tea?”

“The Bishop is out for blood, not tea.”

“Blood!” gasped Huddle, who did not find that the thunderbolt improved on acquaintance.

“Tonight is going to be a great night in the history of Christendom,” said Clovis. “We are going to massacre every Jew in the neighbourhood.”

“To massacre the Jews!” said Huddle indignantly. “Do you mean to tell me there’s a general rising against them?”

“No, it’s the Bishop’s own idea. He’s in there arranging all the details now.”

<  5  >

“But – the Bishop is such a tolerant, humane man.”

“That is precisely what will heighten the effect of his action. The sensation will be enormous.”

That at least Huddle could believe.

“He will be hanged!” he exclaimed with conviction.

“A motor is waiting to carry him to the coast, where a steam yacht is in readiness.”

“But there aren’t thirty Jews in the whole neighbourhood,” protested Huddle, whose brain, under the repeated shocks of the day, was operating with the uncertainty of a telegraph wire during earthquake disturbances.

“We have twenty-six on our list,” said Clovis, referring to a bundle of notes. “We shall be able to deal with them all the more thoroughly.”

“Do you mean to tell me that you are meditating violence against a man like Sir Leon Birberry,” stammered Huddle; “he’s one of the most respected men in the country.”

“He’s down on our list,” said Clovis carelessly; “after all, we’ve got men we can trust to do our job, so we shan’t have to rely on local assistance. And we’ve got some Boy-scouts helping us as auxiliaries.”


“Yes; when they understood there was real killing to be done they were even keener than the men.”

“This thing will be a blot on the Twentieth Century!”

“And your house will be the blotting-pad. Have you realized that half the papers of Europe and the United States will publish pictures of it? By the way, I’ve sent some photographs of you and your sister, that I found in the library, to the Matin and Die Woche; I hope you don’t mind. Also a sketch of the staircase; most of the killing will probably be done on the staircase.”

<  6  >

The emotions that were surging in J. P. Huddle’s brain were almost too intense to be disclosed in speech, but he managed to gasp out: “There aren’t any Jews in this house.”

“Not at present,” said Clovis.

“I shall go to the police,” shouted Huddle with sudden energy.

“In the shrubbery,” said Clovis, “are posted ten men, who have orders to fire on any one who leaves the house without my signal of permission. Another armed picquet is in ambush near the front gate. The Boy-scouts watch the back premises.”

At this moment the cheerful hoot of a motor-horn was heard from the drive. Huddle rushed to the hall door with the feeling of a man half-awakened from a nightmare, and beheld Sir Leon Birberry, who had driven himself over in his car. “I got your telegram,” he said; “what’s up?”

Telegram? It seemed to be a day of telegrams.

“Come here at once. Urgent. James Huddle,” was the purport of the message displayed before Huddle’s bewildered eyes.

“I see it all!” he exclaimed suddenly in a voice shaken with agitation, and with a look of agony in the direction of the shrubbery he hauled the astonished Birberry into the house. Tea had just been laid in the hall, but the now thoroughly panic-stricken Huddle dragged his protesting guest upstairs, and in a few minutes’ time the entire household had been summoned to that region of momentary safety. Clovis alone graced the tea-table with his presence; the fanatics in the library were evidently too immersed in their monstrous machinations to dally with the solace of teacup and hot toast. Once the youth rose, in answer to the summons of the front-door bell, and admitted Mr. Paul Isaacs, shoemaker and parish councillor, who had also received a pressing invitation to The Warren. With an atrocious assumption of courtesy, which a Borgia could hardly have outdone, the secretary escorted this new captive of his net to the head of the stairway, where his involuntary host awaited him.

<  7  >

And then ensued a long ghastly vigil of watching and waiting. Once or twice Clovis left the house to stroll across to the shrubbery, returning always to the library, for the purpose evidently of making a brief report. Once he took in the letters from the evening postman, and brought them to the top of the stairs with punctilious politeness. After his next absence he came half-way up the stairs to make an announcement.

“The Boy-scouts mistook my signal, and have killed the postman. I’ve had very little practice in this sort of thing, you see. Another time I shall do better.”

The housemaid, who was engaged to be married to the evening postman, gave way to clamorous grief.

“Remember that your mistress has a headache,” said J. P. Huddle. (Miss Huddle’s headache was worse.)

Clovis hastened downstairs, and after a short visit to the library returned with another message:

“The Bishop is sorry to hear that Miss Huddle has a headache. He is issuing orders that as far as possible no firearms shall be used near the house; any killing that is necessary on the premises will be done with cold steel. The Bishop does not see why a man should not be a gentleman as well as a Christian.”

That was the last they saw of Clovis; it was nearly seven o’clock, and his elderly relative liked him to dress for dinner. But, though he had left them for ever, the lurking suggestion of his presence haunted the lower regions of the house during the long hours of the wakeful night, and every creak of the stairway, every rustle of wind through the shrubbery, was fraught with horrible meaning. At about seven next morning the gardener’s boy and the early postman finally convinced the watchers that the Twentieth Century was still unblotted.

“I don’t suppose,” mused Clovis, as an early train bore him townwards, “that they will be in the least grateful for the Unrest-cure.”

If you want to read more of the short stories of Saki, who died tragically too young

His wiki entry is at

Alternatively if you just want to read more about Sal, try

After the deluge


So, we’ve three-hundred and ninety something lambed, and five left to lamb. They could spin it out over the next three or four weeks so there isn’t the sense of driving urgency.

But what about the rest? What happens to those who have lambed. Let us assume that we take the standard ‘set’ of one ewe with her twin lambs. They don’t go out until we’re happy that mum recognised her lambs (and lambs recognise mum) and she’s feeding them properly. Once we’re happy with that they go out into a field with other sheep.

At this point we have to be a bit particular. We try to put them out with ewes who have lambs of the same age, so they settle down well together. We also try to put them out into a field with not many other ewes and lambs into it. So they go out in batches of about twenty five. To anthropomorphise wildly, think about taking your toddler to school for the first time. You’ll be happier to let them join a class of twenty to thirty, all of the same age, than a class of five hundred which includes everything up to and including eighteen year olds.

And it’s at this point that things start getting complicated. Lambs have nothing to do with their time other than eat and explore. They squeeze through gaps and wander off, with mum bleating pathetically behind them. You can end up with the lamb in one field, wandering round the strange ewes, all with their own lambs, trying to work out which is mum, whilst mum is in the other field wondering where little one has gone to.

Trying to do anything about this is tricky. Evolution decided that lambs needed speed with a side order of curiosity and a dash of ‘cuteness’. Intellect wasn’t regarded as a survival characteristic. So when you try to catch the lamb to put it back it can pull moves that would make a Parkour champion applaud. Although to be fair you get the feeling that the lamb concentrates on the jump, gets the leap right, and only worries about landing as it travels through the air. They don’t tend to plan their moves out far in advance.

This lack of sparkling intellect is also shared by mum. She might have two lambs but isn’t good on advanced maths and if she decides to travel, so long as at least one of them is tagging along behind her, she feels reasonably happy.

You find that those who lose their mum, either by misplacing her or because she’s ill, tend to pinch milk of other mums when they get a chance. By the time they’re about six weeks old, they’re old enough to cope with solid food alone and they tend to wander more, coming back for a free feed and to get their washing done.

Illness is a difficult one. Sheep aren’t domesticated in the way that even cats are. They are far less domesticated than cattle. So they don’t just come and watch you, or stand and let you watch them in the same way that you can with cattle. Also there is an issue with herd animals. Evolution has designed them not to show weakness. The weak one is the one the predator picks, so both cattle and sheep can carry illnesses and even injuries and look remarkably healthy. It takes a lot of skill to spot illness in its early stages. So at the moment life consists of a lot of careful sheep watching, trying to spot trouble before it gets too far out of hand.

There are times when you ponder whether life should be so sheep centred.



As a reviewer commented, “This book charts a year in the life of a Cumbrian sheep farmer. It’s sprinkled with anecdotes and memories of other years. Some parts (especially when featuring Sal, the Border Collie) were so funny as to cause me to have to read them out loud to my husband. It’s very interesting to read these things from the pen of the man who is actually out there doing it – usually in the rain! A very good read.”


To get it from anybody but Amazon go to

There ain’t no justice any more?

Tricky one this, what’s Justice and where is it? It’s something I’ve thought about, on and off, for a lot of years. I even wrote a story, Justice 4.1, about it. Yes it’s Sci-Fi and yes it’s an adventure story. But the question that has to be faced is Justice and how to make sure it happens. And then is what then happens, just?

Sounds awfully pious, sorry about that, because it isn’t.

restorative justice

But still, I picked the name ‘Justice 4.1’ because it hints that Justice has been through an awful lot of versions and they’re still trying to get it right; which sums it up for all of us really.

What brought this about? A Canadian friend posted this link

Now I’ve never heard of the chap before, he’s a Canadian on trail in Jakarta, it would be unusual if I had. I don’t know the rights and wrongs but I do know that in today’s paper it mentioned in passing that in the UK one in five teachers are wrongly accused by pupils, and one in seven are wrongly accused by parents.

And today I also read piece by Charles Moore. He had taken Easter as his theme and he commented “But the essential point is that people like punishing and killing other people, and they particularly like doing so in a form that clothes this desire in the righteous robes of justice.”

There does seem to be a culture of ‘Cross me and you’ll suffer.’ If you’re the teacher a pupil doesn’t like, or whose opinion of a pupil doesn’t suit the parents, then they’ll make damn sure you’ll suffer.

The culture now seems to dictate that the person whose belief clashes with that of a dominant group is automatically written off as Untermensch. They’re ‘red necks’, ‘that bigoted woman’, little Englanders’, worshippers of the sky pixie, whatever.

And if that belief undermines theirs, casts doubt on the rationality of it, then the believer must be eliminated. A hasty kangaroo court and a swift and vicious execution is too good for them.

That’s probably why I feel that Christianity is best when it’s not the belief of the dominant group. The whole concept of servant ministry is undermined by dominance. You cannot speak for the voiceless when you’re the one with your foot on their necks. A pilgrim people cannot rule and keep moving.

If you believe that the culture is wrong, then you have to be counter-cultural. There is a price to be paid, but hopefully it only had to be paid once.

Have a Happy Easter



I just thought I’d sort of describe ‘lambing’ for people. I know there’s ‘Lambing Live’ on telly (or was, I haven’t a clue whether they’re doing it this year or not) but I thought people would like a peep behind the curtain.

Lambing ‘starts’ when you put the tups in. (Tups is the Cumbrian term for rams, male sheep). This year we were cunning, we split the ewes into two groups, each of two hundred. We put the tups into one group, so they’d start lambing in the middle of February, and then three weeks later we put the tups into the next group as well. The idea was that lambing would be spread out a little bit and wouldn’t get totally manic. By and large it worked.

Round about Christmas we had sheep scanned. This told us who was carrying a single, twins or triplets. They were split into groups because they’d all need different diets.

The middle of February arrived. Prior to that we’d been taking hay and silage out to the ewes in the fields, and those carrying triplets had been really pampered getting ewe rolls. All got molasses as well because they really need the energy.

Then as the first ewes started lambing we went through them, pulled out those who were nearest to lambing and brought them inside. We have three old cattle sheds and we just bed them with straw, but along the sides we have some individual pens made out of hurdles. When things were busy somebody would go through every hour or so and if a ewe was lambing or had just lambed you’d quietly escort her into one of the pens and let her lick her lambs down in peace and generally give her a chance to get to know them.

One problem you can have during lambing is when you find three ewes surrounded by anywhere from five to seven lambs, and nobody (including the mothers,) has the faintest idea who belongs to who! So whisking them off to their private maternity suite as soon as you spot them doing anything saves problems.

There are other issues, large lambs that need help out into the world, lambs coming backwards, lambs lying across the birth canal they’re supposed to be going down, but most ewes manage this sort of thing entirely on their own. After all why not, it’s a perfectly natural process; the species has been doing it for millennia.

Once the ewe has lambed she and her lambs are whisked into another building, again in individual pens, where she can bond properly with the lambs and we can check that she’s got the milk to feed them.  If she’s the mother of triplets then she cannot really feed three properly so one is quietly removed. Ideally it goes straight onto a ewe who has only had one lamb. In the perfect world you catch your single actually lambing, and rub the ‘spare’ lamb down in afterbirth and fluid so the doting mum takes it as her own. (This is what we call round here Wet adoption.) Otherwise you can go through up to three stages. Some, a very few, will just accept the extra lamb. Some you put a halter on so that they cannot drive the lamb off, and so eventually, after a couple of days it smells of them and they accept it. Some have to go into a formal lamb adopter where the ewe’s head is held and she cannot see the lambs at all. So she forgets which is which and they both smell like her. But with this system, once she has accepted the lamb you’re best putting the new happy family into a single pen so that the lambs learn to recognise Mum’s face.

lamb adopter

But across the board, once you know mum has accepted the lambs, and each lamb has a nice full tummy which shows that she’s feeding them properly; then they can go back outside.

And this is where the weather is crucial. We’ve got fertiliser on, grass should be growing but because it’s cold and wet we’re feeding them as much silage and hay as we were back in January. There just isn’t enough grass yet to allow the ewes to produce enough milk to support their lambs. Obviously they’re also still getting their ewe rolls to make sure they are getting enough quality food so they can feed their lambs.

Ideally, the sun comes out, the mixture of rain, sleet and snow stops, and the grass starts growing. As the grass grows we can slowly withdraw the extra feed until finally mum is feeding her lambs solely off the grass, and the lambs are also eating grass as well.

As you can imagine, things get hectic. You have anywhere between a month and six weeks flat out. Our busiest day saw fifteen lamb within twenty four hours. Actually that is quite civilised and a result of us spreading tupping.  But ideally you don’t plan to do anything else much during lambing. Social events are just not booked for then and friends have to accept that you might just disappear for a month.

You certainly don’t plan a book launch for the middle of it!


But never mind.

Oh and a treat for you. Did you know that the Tsarina Sector series of SF novels is finished and all published?

The first one is available here