An unexpected TB test during calving is a challenge at the farm on the M62

TB testing our cattle, smack bang in the middle of lambing time, our busiest period, is far from ideal. Our cows are still calving and we are, of course, flat out.

A positive reactor in the parish leads to a TB test for Stott Hall Farm

TB testing our cattle, smack bang in the middle of lambing time, our busiest period, is far from ideal. Our cows are still calving and we are, of course, flat out.

However, with a positive reactor within our parish, all our cattle have had to be tested, regardless of our work load and the fact our cows are either heavily in calf or have young at foot. We’re classed as a low-risk area and are required to have our cattle tested for bovine tuberculosis every four years.

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Unfortunately, that alters the minute a neighbouring farm has a reactor. All farms within the area must then be tested followed by a further two tests, each one six months apart.

If they are all clear we will return to testing every four years. It’s stressful on the cows, especially with young calves and takes up a considerable amount of time and manpower, but is non-negotiable and has to be done.

The moor sheep are due now, with only a few of the Farnley ewes left to lamb. The fields are full with those who are waiting to be taken back to their usual grazing at Farnley Tyas, 40 minutes away, which will free up much-needed space.

The little guy is now back at school and his cheery face and endless chatter is sorely missed about the place. He absolutely loves lambing time, his boundless joy with the arrival of every new life is a constant source of support for Paul.

The long hours and lack of sleep leave Paul worn out and irritable, akin to a bear with a sore head. Most of John-William’s ewes have lambed now so the fever pitch excitement has eased somewhat to be replaced by a more sedate approach.

The cade lambs are fed, hugged and walked several times a day, with only two sporting his bright red mark on their side. Pens are checked, bedded, fed and watered, a job he takes very seriously. His return to school has left the yard quiet, no shrieks of “Dad she’s lambing”, no battered red bike left thrown on the ground, wellies tossed aside.

Paul can sit and have his breakfast without being blasted with a Nerf gun or hurried back outside. We’re not tripping over discarded coats and toys. But he is so missed.

We tried not to mention the dreaded back to school day as it loomed closer and he was surprisingly accepting when his school uniform was laid out one morning instead of his work clothes. So far, there has been no tears, no tantrums and no pleading and begging with me to keep him at home.

It’s a huge relief, his desperately sad face when I drop him off at school, leaves me feeling wretched for the day. The school drop-off and pick-up cuts into the day, leaving the hours in between a frantic whirlwind of mucking out ponies and feeding lambs. He’s soon home, his voice and cries of joy heard loud and clear as he rushes from pen to pen seeing who has lambed. I hope the enthusiasm and sheer thrill at welcoming new life into the world never leaves him.