Soft As A Lamb


The start of the Lambing Live series on BBC TV last night brought back memories.

For three years, while searching for our current house, we rented a cottage on a farm. I’ve written about some of the incidental characters on the blog before: the geese, ducks and pigs. But the real business was sheep. From the comfort of the cottage it looked an idyllic life. The shepherd didn’t bother with a watch. His working day was defined by the seasons. In the normal course of events he was up at first light and retired at dusk. It didn’t take long for my love of animals to make itself known and we were welcomed to get involved.

The shepherd did his best to shield me from the commercial realities of farm life. Lambs were the primary source of income, supplemented by the sale of fleece. The huge double decker animal transporters arrived very early, before we were awake. As long as they didn’t actually hit the cottage, the gap between it and the wall opposite was really rather tight, I mostly saw nothing and all was well.


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Heads and Tails


The busiest time of the year was of course Spring.

He had a carefree attitude to most things did the shepherd, an endearing part of his character which he would promote to the full. Long before March I would be pestering him constantly, anxious to know when the first lambs were due. “Dunno, I’ve got my dates all mixed up” was the best I could ever do. I learned to read the signs though. Barn clearing operations were the most obvious of all.

One year a family emergency called the shepherd away. By the time he returned lambing was imminent and it was all systems go. That Saturday morning Mike and I took up pitchforks and helped him spread straw around the floor of the barn. Good grief, that’s hard work. Straw is heavy when it’s compressed in a bale. A life at a desk does not strong arm muscles make and then there’s the constant twisting of waist and hips. It was all I could do to lift a wine glass that night. The following day we constructed the lambing pens and not before time. A goodly proportion were occupied by dusk.


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Some of the ewes lambed by day out in the fields but at night they were brought inside.

It was freezing cold that Spring. After dinner each evening we would pile on the layers, thick coats and welly boots and go up to the barn to see what was happening. It was also the first year the BBC ran Lambing Live. We would watch it while we were having our meal and then, somewhat tongue in cheek, give the lifelong shepherd the benefit of presenter Kate Humble’s advice.

Witnessing the birth of a lamb is captivating. And humbling in the extreme, no pun intended. Some nights we were stood in the open sided barn for hours, getting home well after midnight unable to feel our toes. The best bits for me were those first tentative steps from a bleating lamb. Helped by the ewe’s devoted cleaning how quickly they came around, from a wet scrawny heap to recognisable fluffy lamb in the space of half an hour.

This particular breed of sheep is apparently well known for multiple births. If the ewe couldn’t cope, or a lamb was rejected and unable to be ‘adopted’ elsewhere, it found its way into the ‘orphans’ bay. These lambs were hand reared. You can imagine who had her hand up first for that.. When the number of orphans exceeded the volunteer’s time available the ‘rubber mummy’ turned up in support, a home made contraption consisting of a modified plastic milk formula container with three teats sticking out of the side.


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The lambs grew so fast and it was lovely to see them frolicking in the fields. Naturally inquisitive, they spent all their days exploring. Inevitably, as here around the duck pond, they came into contact with the geese. A head to head stand off would ensue, but even after the lambs had acquired the advantage of height it was always one of them that went running back to Mamma with a peck on the nose.

After several months of fattening up the dreaded day dawned. The lambs were penned up in the farmyard. Each one passed through a crush to be individually inspected and marked. The shepherd used two cans of spray dye. Blue, for another couple of weeks in the fields. Red, ready for the truck. As I mentioned frequently to Mike, what was to stop me going to the local farming supplies store and buying up a few more cans of blue? If we went out with a torch one night and over-sprayed every patch of red we could find, who would ever know?


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2018-03-21T18:31:29+00:00March 24th, 2014|Tags: |


  1. Justine Wilkinson March 24, 2014 at 1:22 pm - Reply

    Lovely post, and gorgeous photos. Thank you for sharing.

    • Jessica March 24, 2014 at 5:49 pm - Reply

      Thanks Justine 🙂

  2. Jo March 24, 2014 at 1:33 pm - Reply

    What fabulous photos, absolutely wonderful. It sounds like a very special time of your life, but I’d be the same as you, I wouldn’t want to know anything about the harsh reality of rearing lambs.

    • Jessica March 24, 2014 at 5:51 pm - Reply

      Short lives, but happy ones. And they were extremely well cared for. That’s the important thing I guess. Thanks Jo.

  3. Simone March 24, 2014 at 1:44 pm - Reply

    Oh I missed farming live! I will have to see the other episodes during the week. I can’t eat lamb any more. I think they are such lovely creatures. Why can’t we just rear them for wool or milk? 🙂 The photos are wonderful Jessica even if the harsh realities of their fate brings tears to my eyes.

    • Jessica March 24, 2014 at 6:05 pm - Reply

      Sorry, I shouldn’t be bringing tears to your eyes on your birthday!! Have a very lovely evening Simone x

  4. woolythymes March 24, 2014 at 1:50 pm - Reply

    Thanks for sharing the memories….and photos. What an experience. (I think I would have had to reach for the spray can as well. )

    • Jessica March 24, 2014 at 6:07 pm - Reply

      Perhaps we should all go veggie and buy more wool!

  5. Pauline March 24, 2014 at 1:52 pm - Reply

    Such lovely photos and the telling of that part of your life is so moving. I haven’t eaten lamb for such a long time now, we have them round us in nearby fields, it’s always sad when they go.

    • Jessica March 24, 2014 at 6:11 pm - Reply

      I eat it occasionally, living with a committed meat eater. But duck and goose are definite no nos, I won on that one at least!

  6. Christina March 24, 2014 at 2:03 pm - Reply

    We are surrounded by sheep here; they are for the production of milk for making the famous pecorino cheese of the region. Of course, as with cows, to have milk the ewes must have lambs first. the lambs sold to be eaten here are tiny! They don’t want them around for long, so if you can imagine it it is usual to serve a half lamb even for a small lunch or dinner; almost anyone could easily eat a whole leg and still be hungry for some of the pevorino cheese to follow. Lovely Spring images, thank you.

    • Jessica March 24, 2014 at 6:15 pm - Reply

      Oooh, eating a tiny lamb would upset me even more I think!

  7. wherefivevalleysmeet March 24, 2014 at 2:16 pm - Reply

    Gorgeous, gorgeous photos – several would make lovely Easter cards Jessica. I did enjoy reading your memories.

    • Jessica March 24, 2014 at 6:18 pm - Reply

      Thanks Rosemary. Mike looks back with fonder memories than me, I got too involved!

  8. justjilluk March 24, 2014 at 2:24 pm - Reply

    The field across from us is full of sheep. I assume last years lambs. In the corner of the field is the weighing machine. Every so often the transporter comes, the sheep are weighed, then either in to the lorry or back in the field. Mixed feelings.

    • Jessica March 24, 2014 at 6:20 pm - Reply


  9. Em March 24, 2014 at 2:40 pm - Reply

    I love the image of you two skulking in the dark with a spray can!

    • Jessica March 24, 2014 at 6:24 pm - Reply

      I don’t suppose the lambs would have cooperated for a minute..

  10. Amy at love made my home March 24, 2014 at 2:42 pm - Reply

    It is so lovely to see lambs in the spring. Love the idea of you going round trying to spray them in the dark to rescue them though!!! xx

    • Jessica March 24, 2014 at 6:26 pm - Reply

      There have been lambs down here since December, but many more in the last few weeks. All scampering around enjoying the sunshine.

  11. Mark and Gaz March 24, 2014 at 2:45 pm - Reply

    A lovely, endearing story, and one that I can say demonstrates one of the understated joys of living in the country. The story has a sting on its tail yes, albeit a well known one but best to focus on the memory on how the lambs look like whilst still frolicking on the fields.

    • Jessica March 24, 2014 at 6:31 pm - Reply

      Thanks, I think you’re right!

  12. Rosie March 24, 2014 at 3:23 pm - Reply

    I do love to see the lambs at this time of year and try very hard not to think of what will happen to them! Your photos are wonderful:)

    • Jessica March 24, 2014 at 6:33 pm - Reply

      In the house before the rented cottage we once had lambs in the field around us. Woke up about 5.30 in the morning to desperate bleating as one of them had managed to get in the garden. Mike was chasing it around in his PJs for several minutes!

  13. Alison March 24, 2014 at 3:25 pm - Reply

    They are so cute! I have to say lamb is actually my favorite protein, I love it. I might feel differently if I were the one raising them though. Watching all those births must have been a fascinating, and wonderful experience. Great pictures, and thanks for sharing your reminiscences with us.

    • Jessica March 24, 2014 at 6:36 pm - Reply

      It does change your perspective when you live close to animals, either you get hardened (the farmer) or closer along the road to vegetarianism (me).

  14. Sigrun March 24, 2014 at 4:38 pm - Reply

    What a wonderful report from a farm! And the pictures are very professionell and full of love.


    • Jessica March 24, 2014 at 6:38 pm - Reply

      Thanks Sigrun. I was relieved to see the photos were half way decent… we are rather more self critical of them these days!

  15. Christina March 24, 2014 at 5:34 pm - Reply

    Hi Jessica, your photos of the lambs and sheep are so endearing! Your post made me happy and sad at the same time. Here are we city dwellers going to the country side to dive into the romantic innocent country life and then there is the reality of a working farm, which very often includes killing animals, even these cute lambs. After all it is a business that has to support a family financially in most cases. I never have found a proper way to deal with this emotionally. My personal solution so far is that I have consciously reduced eating meat quite a bit and I may become a vegetarian eventually. Have a nice week!

    • Jessica March 24, 2014 at 6:40 pm - Reply

      We have done the same, or at least I have as far as I am able. Some men you can never change!

  16. Cathy March 24, 2014 at 5:42 pm - Reply

    Great pictures, Jessica, and a lovely life experience to have had 🙂

    • Jessica March 24, 2014 at 6:42 pm - Reply

      Thanks Cathy. It was good to have done it. Deep respect for anyone who runs a farm for a living though. It can be a hard life with sometimes little in the way of reward.

  17. Sol March 24, 2014 at 7:12 pm - Reply

    you write beautifully, you know that right? well you do.

    Unfortunately, grading animals for slaughter is necessary. 1 too skinny 5 too fat. Since starting my small holders course it has crossed my mind that really maybe I don’t want to eat meat. but if I am going to eat meat, I would rather raise it myself and know how it was treated. As it is, I am currently fighting my demons about dairy. If we do get a small holding I will have goats. then I wont ever have cows milk again.

    • Jessica March 24, 2014 at 10:08 pm - Reply

      Thank you Sol.
      Even harder for me would be to eat meat I’ve raised myself, having seen the colour of the animal’s eyes.
      I know I will regret this.. what’s wrong with cow’s milk?

  18. snowbird March 24, 2014 at 7:41 pm - Reply

    What a wonderful post and such gorgeous pictures of the little darlings. It’s so hard when they go isn’t it, so very bitter

    • Jessica March 24, 2014 at 10:09 pm - Reply


  19. CJ March 24, 2014 at 8:38 pm - Reply

    They’re lovely, and I do like to hear about your time by the farm, it sounds wonderful.

    • Jessica March 24, 2014 at 10:24 pm - Reply

      Mostly, it was. It was good to know that animals are generally well treated, but at the end of the day they are bred for one purpose.

  20. Denise March 24, 2014 at 8:41 pm - Reply

    Andy and I visited a local school farm at the weekend, to their lambing weekend. Many beautiful lambs being cared for by youngsters who are students at the school. They were very pragmatic about the eventual fate of these new born creatures. I cannot be – and that is why I am vegetarian. Thank you for this lovely post and beautiful pictures. X

    • Jessica March 24, 2014 at 10:32 pm - Reply

      I am still working on Mike… it would do us no harm to eat less meat. Going on no meat.

  21. Freda March 24, 2014 at 8:57 pm - Reply

    If we didn’t eat them the British countryside would look very different….and oh, they are beautiful frolicking in the sun!

    • Jessica March 24, 2014 at 10:38 pm - Reply

      They are.

  22. Anna March 24, 2014 at 10:03 pm - Reply

    A fascinating post Jessica. I’ve never understood though how lambs become sheep. On of the mysteries of life.

    • Jessica March 24, 2014 at 10:42 pm - Reply

      They are very different. Maybe the exuberance of youth takes its toll!

  23. Chloris March 24, 2014 at 11:28 pm - Reply

    Great pictures and story. We have sheep and lambs in the field across the road. It is really sad the day the lambs disappear.

    • Jessica March 25, 2014 at 5:23 pm - Reply

      It’s cows here now. Noisier (moo-ey) and a bit ripe when the farmer spreads the deposits from the milking parlour floor!

  24. knitsofacto March 25, 2014 at 12:17 am - Reply

    Beautiful photographs. Our lovely vet and her husband are also sheep farmers … not the easiest of lives by any means. But as Freda says, the English countryside we know and love has been shaped by animal husbandry … change that and we’d be looking at nothing but mighty arable farms and they are nowhere near as pleasing to the eye as a field of lambs in spring 🙂

    • Jessica March 25, 2014 at 5:30 pm - Reply

      Possibly healthier now than it was. During our early days on the farm the cost of raising a sheep was greater than the return from the animal’s sale. If one got sick or struggled at lambing, the gun came out. Vets’ bills were unaffordable.

  25. Linda March 25, 2014 at 1:01 am - Reply

    What a great story, Jessica….
    Love the photos…really nice!
    Enjoy your week…
    Linda :o)

    • Jessica March 25, 2014 at 5:30 pm - Reply

      Thanks Linda. You too.

  26. nataliescarberry March 25, 2014 at 1:18 am - Reply

    Loved the photos and the narrative. I’d love to experience that first hand just once in my life. Have a great week, Jessica. Hugs, Natalie 🙂

    • Jessica March 25, 2014 at 5:37 pm - Reply

      I liked that the ewes just got on with it, the lambing shed for the most part was serene!

  27. islandthreads March 25, 2014 at 6:34 am - Reply

    hmm this spring frolicking lambs next autumn Sunday roast! I’ve seen many 3 tiered lorries, when I lived in Bath 3 tier lorries frequently went by in hot summer weather the animals packed so tight they had to stand, bleating, mooing or squealing all the way, so glad I’m veggy, though I try to avoid baby carrots 😉 Frances

    • Jessica March 25, 2014 at 5:39 pm - Reply

      Lol! I was going to have a go at those one year, Mike won’t eat the big ones!

      • Cumbrian March 27, 2014 at 7:59 am - Reply

        They’re packed in tight so they don’t move about then fall and hurt themselves.

        • Jessica March 27, 2014 at 6:48 pm - Reply

          Yes, good point Cumbrian.

  28. Jacqueline March 25, 2014 at 7:33 am - Reply

    …… and there’s me, moaning about a day’s gardening in my latest post !!!! What a wonderful experience Jessica and, your photographs are brilliant. I love ‘ Heads and Tails ‘. XXXX

    • Jessica March 25, 2014 at 5:41 pm - Reply

      It took me a while to work out which bit belonged to who in that photo. Hope you got back out today.. and today it’s me that’s cream crackered.

  29. Linda@arichtapestry March 25, 2014 at 7:48 am - Reply

    Beautiful photos, I enjoyed the account of your lambing time experience on a large sheep-rearing farm. It’s not an easy life for the sheep farmer is it?
    I’ve only known the hard work and responsibilities of small-scale rearing of animals, including a few sheep by Italian relatives (in contrast to the mountain shepherds with their large flocks) and have to admit I’ve enjoyed the end products. However, one of our daughters is a vegetarian because of her childhood Italian experiences since one can’t get away from the whole procedure when home rearing. At least we know where the food has come from.

    • Jessica March 25, 2014 at 5:51 pm - Reply

      It’s important to know where food comes from these days, and that animals have been well cared for. I can sympathise with your daughter. As I still have to cook meat I stick to cuts that look as far removed from the original animal as possible!

  30. Wendy March 25, 2014 at 1:11 pm - Reply

    Gorgeous photos – the lambs are so very cute. It was fascinating reading your memories, too. We’re in a largely arable (not livestock) area so I rarely see them, although of course I have three old boys on my smallholding munching away quite happily – saved from a certain fate!

    • Jessica March 25, 2014 at 5:54 pm - Reply

      There are sheep on the hillside opposite when the cows are in for winter, otherwise it’s pretty much the same for me. Unless we are driving out and about.

  31. Jayne Hill March 25, 2014 at 4:48 pm - Reply

    What lovely experiences for you. (Mostly) the joys of lambing without the harsh realities of your livelihood depending upon it.

    This morning I heard an almighty din from the field next to the river. It’s been full of sheep and lambs for a week and the farmer had just dumped a load of what appeared to be beets or turnips. The sight of a stampeding flock of hungry mums was a sight to behold :} Bringing up the rear and learning fast were dozens of lambs; no, of course I didn’t have a camera handy :{

    • Jessica March 25, 2014 at 5:56 pm - Reply

      How quickly the lambs are forgotten when there is food in the offing. Just as well they can find each other again!

  32. elaine March 25, 2014 at 5:12 pm - Reply

    After many years of keeping sheep and hand rearing lambs I can understand your feelings about this – I never got used to them being dispatched to the abattoir.

    • Jessica March 25, 2014 at 5:58 pm - Reply

      No, it’s hard. The shepherd said he’d got used to it over the years. I wondered though. He seemed to enjoy having the tiny lambs around as much as anyone.

  33. frayed at the edge March 25, 2014 at 6:39 pm - Reply

    Thank you for all the gorgeous photos of the little lambies!!

    • Jessica March 25, 2014 at 9:40 pm - Reply

      I thought you’d approve… 🙂

  34. Abby March 25, 2014 at 6:49 pm - Reply

    Lovely photos! I love to see lambs jumping about. Did you see in the paper / on the news about the ‘terrorising pheasant’ in Cambs? X

    • Jessica March 25, 2014 at 9:43 pm - Reply

      I did!! That gave me a real chuckle. Although sorry for the people, cars, dogs etc chased because those talons and beaks are sharp!

  35. nataliescarberry March 25, 2014 at 11:22 pm - Reply

    Just to let my readers know. I’m having a hard time with a health issue right now and now I can post nothing on my blog nor can I get any help from WordPress with whatever the problem is. So please pray for me that these issues will be resolved soon. Blessings to all, Natalie 🙂

    • Jessica March 26, 2014 at 9:42 am - Reply

      Oh Natalie, I’m so sorry to hear that you are unwell. I do hope that you feel better very soon. Take care, Jx

      • nataliescarberry March 26, 2014 at 9:12 pm - Reply

        Thank you, Jessica, for the well wishes. I pray all is well with you. Blessings, Natalie 🙂

        • Jessica March 26, 2014 at 9:54 pm - Reply

          Thank you Natalie. Get well soon, I hope the warmer weather will help. It’s been too long coming.

  36. Helene March 26, 2014 at 12:06 am - Reply

    Beautiful photos, it brought back memories for me as I lived 4 years on a disused farm where the owner rented out the fields to a sheep farmer. We had several hundred sheep around us from early spring to late autumn every year. In Norway, the sheep are indoors in winter and usually give birth indoors, but are let out just a day or two after.

    • Jessica March 26, 2014 at 9:45 am - Reply

      I really enjoyed having the sheep around us too. Walking amongst them in the fields chilled me out like nothing else has done before or since.

  37. Caroline Taylor March 26, 2014 at 1:00 pm - Reply

    Lovely post and I liked the photos too.

    • Jessica March 26, 2014 at 9:43 pm - Reply

      Thanks Caroline. I printed off your pasta bake recipe tonight, sounds delicious!

  38. countrysidetales March 26, 2014 at 5:45 pm - Reply

    Great clear pics Jess. I did a stint of lambing duty years back at ag college (6pm-midnight, then two days later mignight-6am). It is tough and a fair few are born dead or with difficulties. I shared a cottage with 5 other girls at the time, all doing lambing duty on different days. One of them came home from her stint carrying a newborn that the shepherd said wouldn’t make it. He had wanted to put it down but she wouldn’t let him. The lamb lived in the cottage with us and used to come to the village shop when we went food shopping, wrapped in a blanket. More than one village lady asked to see the baby and got a nasty shock when she peered over my shoulder! She did die eventually, but it was an experience I will never forget.

    • Jessica March 26, 2014 at 9:45 pm - Reply

      Oh, I’d have been heartbroken!
      Watching Lambing Live tonight brought back such memories, the lambing shed we were in was just like that.

  39. CherryPie March 27, 2014 at 12:27 am - Reply

    Thank you for sharing your story. Your photos are fabulous.

    I too would have been tempted to interfere by spraying blue paint…

    • Jessica March 27, 2014 at 6:33 pm - Reply

      Thanks Cherie. It was very tempting!

  40. Sarah March 27, 2014 at 7:47 am - Reply

    Great post! I once had the pleasure (!) of helping my farming friend (along with many others) do the docking (I guess that’s how it’s spelt?!) of her lambs. It was a very eye opening experience! I felt like such a townie but by the 556th lamb and a hoof kick to my nose I was administering the scabby mouth medicine like a seasoned pro. Farming is very far removed from most people’s supermarket experiences of meat buying. So important to experience in order to appreciate where our food comes from and the human effort that goes into providing it. I definitely eat much less meat these days but, when we do, we go for top quality and don’t waste a scrap 🙂

    • Jessica March 27, 2014 at 6:46 pm - Reply

      There is certainly a lot of effort that goes into it. I also came to understand more fully the difference between organic and inorganic meat. But, when all’s said and done, I’d just prefer to eat less meat.

  41. Cumbrian March 27, 2014 at 8:06 am - Reply

    Fields here are starting to fill up with lambs, a lot of twins as well.

    Yes it’s sometimes difficult to relate the lamb chops on your plate to the little white things in the fields now, but that’s the reality. At least they have a chance to run about on the grass, unlike battery chickens or factory farm pigs. And they don’t know what’s coming, slaughter is instant.

    • Jessica March 27, 2014 at 6:55 pm - Reply

      Their short lives certainly seem to be happy ones. Factory farming I find very hard to come to terms with.

  42. Willow March 28, 2014 at 12:38 am - Reply

    What a great share.
    The photos gorgeous.
    Baby lambs just seem to exude joy .

    • Jessica March 28, 2014 at 9:32 am - Reply

      Thanks Willow. They do, leaping up in the air and racing round in gangs. Magic.

  43. John March 28, 2014 at 1:22 am - Reply

    We did flirt with the idea of sheep and although the notion of lambs gamboling underneath the apple trees was very enticing the reality of the vet care and butcher shops led us to stick with the horticultural side of rural life. If it weren’t for predators we might consider chickens but that’s probably the furthest we’d likely go now.

    • Jessica March 28, 2014 at 9:55 am - Reply

      I’m at exactly the same point with chickens John. I’ve seen foxes prowling around here in broad daylight, it would be a constant concern. I’d love ducks and geese too. Hey ho.

  44. welshhillsagain March 28, 2014 at 3:34 pm - Reply

    My son once did a season helping a shepherd with lambing and we once took some friends on a walk here in spring which has meant they have never eaten lamb since. They are the loveliest creatures. I completely love to see them but I think we really shy away from facing the facts if we eat meat. We see it all packaged up in the supermarket and it is easy to pretend it was never a living creature. I am not vegetarian although I respect those who are. I do though care about the quality of life of the creatures who produce my meat and lambs really are free range and probably have a better quality of life than most of the animals which produce our meat. Perhaps we should really get our heads around eating less meat. It seems to me that it’s the factory farming of animals to produce cheap meat which produces the really objectionable practices. Mind you, I could happily only eat meat once a week but like you I am married to a committed carnivore! thanks for this post. it is good to be made to think about the issues from time to time!

    • Jessica March 28, 2014 at 7:09 pm - Reply

      The only way I can eat meat now is sanitised beyond recognition and ‘field reared’ as Waitrose call it, whatever that means in practice. I had a whole chicken delivered in error last year and cooked it because the thought of it dying in vain was even worse. I didn’t enjoy it at all. I am experimenting more and more with vegetarian recipes in the hope of building up a collection of things Mike really likes. But the comment “It would have been so much nicer with some chicken/steak/ham in it” doesn’t seem to go away!

  45. SeagullSuzie March 30, 2014 at 2:54 pm - Reply

    I have watched Lambing Live and just loved it. I thought the way they showed ‘the other side’ of what cute lambs are for, was well done. It’s enough to make me a veggie again. I love animals and hate eating them and struggle with this every time I eat meat. Even though I buy all the high welfare choices, they still have to be slaughtered and that’s the bit I can’t get over emotionally, they must know it’s coming and be very afraid.
    Loved all your photos and great stories, many thanks.

    • Jessica March 30, 2014 at 9:25 pm - Reply

      I turned over to another channel at that point..

  46. Philippa March 30, 2014 at 7:08 pm - Reply

    When my parents were looking for a cottage in the Lake District, we spent a few school holidays staying in a cottage on a farm a few valleys over from where they eventually found the house. My sister and I loved following the farmer around. (He used to gently ignore us, most of the time; his grandchildren, only a little bit older than us, who lived in the nearby town, were much more useful than we were!)

    I remember being terrified the first time when, walking the fields where lambing was taking place (most of the hardy Lake District sheep lamb in the fields, although the farmers I know try to bring them in to fields closer to the farmhouse when they’re due), he lunged at a lamb lying inert on the ground, grabbed it by its heels and swung it round his head as hard as he could. It was soon bleating its little lungs out and tottering towards its mother for a first drink, while he wiped his hands on his overalls, laughed at my stricken face and explained why he’d done it, before carrying on with his inspection, me running behind him in awe. Useful lessons, I think.

    • Jessica March 30, 2014 at 9:31 pm - Reply

      The lamb swinging is very dramatic! Our shepherd did that too, amazing that it works..
      Hope your new job is going well Philippa.

  47. Sarah March 31, 2014 at 9:33 pm - Reply

    We did enjoy watching lambing Live last week too. It was so interesting to read your recollections and see those lovely pictures. It must have been awful when then left the farm. Sarah x

    • Jessica April 1, 2014 at 11:10 am - Reply

      There were so many similarities between the programme and the farm we were living on. The practices were very much the same. But yes, walking in the fields every day and seeing the lambs grow, it was very sad to see them leave.

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