A change in weather makes the first few days of lambing outside a challenge at the farm on the M62

Now that all the Blue Faced Leicester ewes have released their hostages, our focus is on the first of our Farnley Tyas shearlings, mostly Mules.

The spring weather did arrive for scout camp and learning about the importance of moorlands
The spring weather did arrive for scout camp and learning about the importance of moorlands

Shed space as always is tight so the majority are to be lambed outside.

Of course, the weather has done a U-turn and the hazy sunshine and blossoming spring flowers seem to have vanished.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

Cold, starved lambs have started filling the heater box, pens full of bleating ewes, bags of lime, rows of marker spray, Alamycin and half drunk bottles of colostrum fill every ledge and window sill in the barn. I think “in like a lamb and out like a lion” is more apt for this year’s March.

All hill farmers will be cursing the sudden drop in temperature and rain-soaked wind lashing across the lambing fields. I know the weather will break and the sun will soon be shining again but the first few days of lambing outside are always hard until you hit your stride.

Last Tuesday was particularly tough with several frantic confused ewes being brought in, desperately pawing at the lifeless bodies of their lambs. It’s cruel and very difficult mentally for us to cope with.

The warm spring meadows with new lambs playing under a blue sky, so often portrayed, can be a world away from the reality of lambing time.

The emotional toil is draining and for many I expect, overwhelming.

The leaden grey skies and muddy fields are a far cry from the wonderful weather we experienced at the weekend. It was John-William’s residential Cub camp, luckily only a stone’s throw away at Scammonden Activity Centre.

The focus of the weekend was the importance of our wonderful uplands and being right next to the reservoir, we talked about water catchment.

Being brought up on a moorland farm, John-William’s knowledge of the flora and fauna was of course extensive, whilst the rest of the children had virtually no idea of the wildlife or the role peat moorlands play.

As I was helping out for the weekend, it gave me great pleasure to see their faces, glowing in the sunshine as they bounded across the heather-clad slopes.

The majority had no idea that birds could and do nest on the ground or the implications for farmers of gates left open, litter, fires and of course the cursed loose dog.

If anything is to be done about the dwindling support for British farmers and produce and the complete lack of respect for our wonderful countryside, then it starts here, with children. They are so willing to learn and be appreciative of their surroundings.

As the warm spring sunshine lit the great Deanhead valley up and the curlews and lapwings called out above us, in that moment, not a single child missed their electronic devices or their home comforts.

They all stared wide eyed, some silent, some chattering with joy at the sheer splendour of their surroundings. I felt so proud to be able to share my love and passion of our uniquely brilliant uplands with the next generation.