Birthday celebrations bring back bittersweet memories and lambing is on the horizon at the farm on the M62

John-William’s birthday passed quietly, another year behind him and time marching on.

John-William celebrates his ninth birthday at the farm on the M62
John-William celebrates his ninth birthday at the farm on the M62

I took the obligatory photos to add to my collection of birthday memories, whilst he excitedly tore open his presents.

Unfortunately, we’d been unable to secure a couple of in-lamb Zwartble ewes for him, something he’s been desperate to add to his collection for some time.

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He was unaware that Paul and I had been searching for some, so thankfully the disappointment was ours only.

A new show rug with Bronze’s full Welsh name embroidered on was met with much excitement as was the usual mound of chocolate he received and various new toys. We spent that evening looking through family photos together.

From the day he burst into our lives, kicking and screaming, to celebrating his ninth birthday and all the bits in between.

As I looked through them, I felt the familiar pangs of sadness that the years were flying past at such speed. It’s a strange and unsettling mix of emotions watching your child grow up.

Whilst you ache for the days where they fell asleep on your lap and fitted in a little sling tucked inside your coat, it’s equally as rewarding watching them grow into fine young minds, striding across their own fields. He will soon be joining our local Young Farmers and in a blink of an eye he will be at high school.

For now I cling onto the boy that stands before us. The boy that can sprint up hillsides after sheep, leaving Paul and I in his wake, shunning a coat or hat in the depths of winter. The boy that is steadily eating us out of house and home and growing at an alarming rate. And the boy who is at his happiest when surrounded by his beloved animals.

The new pick-up was collected last week, the old one sadly being beyond repair. There was endless grumbling about the colour not being quite right, a bit boring.

There were a few scratches on it, which, as I pointed out would soon be joined by plenty more scratches, scrapes and dints once he’d driven it for a week.

But the biggest gripe of all was driving it. After several years of driving an automatic, I think he’d forgotten how to use a clutch and gearstick. Following a few failed hill starts and stalling at junctions, he finally got to grips with it.

In amongst the constant journeying up and down, moving sheep to fresh grazing and electric fencing, our Farnley Tyas sheep will be gathered in for scanning. It’s the first indication of how busy our lambing time will be as our mules, who are prone to birthing multiples, will be the first lot to be scanned.

Whilst it leaves most of us groaning at the thought of countless lambs filling the cade pen, John-William smiles with glee.

At the first opportunity, I’m in no doubt that his supply of red marker spray will be sprayed at will on any unsuspecting lamb!