The savage weather brings misery to lambing time as casualties rise at the farm at the M62

A white, wintry landscape is not what you want to wake up to in the month of May whilst lambing.

It is a tough time at Stott Hall Farm with floods and snow to contend with.
It is a tough time at Stott Hall Farm with floods and snow to contend with.

But wake up to it we did. My heart sunk as a cold blast of air surged into the house as I opened the door.

A good covering of snow lay at my feet, meaning a busy morning ahead of thawing out frozen lambs. Surprisingly though, once the sun pushed through, the snow vanished as quickly as it had appeared, with little damage done.

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The storms that battered us several days later, however, left their mark and it wasn’t long before the fields that had been so parched of rain only a week before, quickly turned to mud.

Great streams of water started flowing down the saturated hillsides, gateways turned to boggy ponds and not for the first time this year, our kitchen flooded.

In amongst frantic mopping and moving of dogs, shoes and chairs, sodden, dripping lambs appeared. Our large heater box quickly filled as little shivering bodies were placed inside, heat lamps strung up from the old beams. The pens also filled, as did every building and shelter.

Despite suffering with his knee, the six to eight weeks of rest as instructed by the doctor, was never going to happen.

With a crook under each arm Paul shuffled around the yard, wincing as each step sent shooting pains through his knee. His slightly lopsided gait aggravated his back leaving him at the end of his tether. Out in the lambing fields things were grim.

Casualty numbers started to climb, even those that had found good shelter succumbed to the wind and rain. The mood in our yard was desperately low, the loss of new life sickening, Paul’s injury debilitating and frustrating. Casey, Paul’s brother, soldiered on as did our friends that had come to help.

Somewhere in amongst the cold and wet, the death toll, the constant battle against the ever-changing elements and confused seasons I felt another little piece of drive and determination leave me. I know that same passion that has driven Paul his entire life no longer burns quite as bright for him.

Often lambasted, nobody stands on their doorstep applauding farmers. Despite feeding the nation, we are often seen as the enemy, harmer of animals, destroyer of the environment. So at which point do you hold your hands up and admit enough is enough.

I’m sure I’m not alone when I question our current lifestyle, the demanding workload, hours and feeling like we’re just treading water. But how do you walk away from something that is etched into your very soul?

Perhaps it’s the lack of sleep and the emotional rollercoaster that is lambing time that allows the seeds of doubt planted inside you, to grow. I’m sure though, that when the clouds pass and the sun shines again, our mood will lift and our drive return. John-William’s unbridled joy at lambing time, his sheer pleasure at delivering new life into the world somehow keeps us going.