"We have got our hands full": Yorkshire farmers celebrate new life over busy Easter period

Farmers across Yorkshire have embraced social media and online technology to champion the crucial role they play during the busy Springtime and bring seasonal cheer to households celebrating under lockdown for the second year in a row.

This time of year welcomes peak lambing season and the more settled weather means farmers are faced with a busier workload.

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Farmers across Yorkshire have reported an increase in online coverage as more people turn to the internet to bring seasonal cheer to households caught up in the coronavirus lockdown.

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Cannon Hall Farm, in Cawthorne near Barnsley, which has been open to the public for more than 30 years, has broadcast live every day, of every lock down since last year.

Robert Nicholson, 53, who runs the farm with his two brothers David and Richard alongside their 77-year-old father Roger, told The Yorkshire Post the farm has seen on average 100,000 online numbers of viewers watching live streaming every day on Facebook.

Over the annual lambing festival this year Cannon Hall is expected to see a total of 900 lambs born thanks to 450 ewes.

Mr Nicholson said: “We want to keep streaming live and give people a little taste of farming life in amongst all the adversity that people have been going through.

Rob Nicholson with a piglet at Cannon Hall Farm. Photo credit: Tony Johnson/JPIMediaResell

“Thanks to social media you'll get to see a live birth and now more than every it's so important to share this special time of year with people.”

The 125-acre farm is brimming with other new births including more than 100 baby goats, an increase on last year due to the majority of the 35 doe expected triplets or quadruplets.

“There must be something in the water. Whatever we did in October time obviously worked because they have had loads of kids,” said Mr Nicholson.

While there are also new piglets, foals and an alpaca that is due any time, alongside a couple of pregnant highland cattle.

Dave Nicholson with new born pigmy goats at Cannon Hall Farm. Photo credit: JPIMediaResell/ Tony Johnson

The farming family will be returning as the host farm for the hit Channel 5 show 'Springtime on the Farm' which starts on Bank Holiday Monday, at 8pm for four nights.

Looking ahead at Cannon Hall a new small animal petting area is set to open in May and a walk through red squirrel enclosure.

While the following month a brand new dog friendly cafe - three times as big as the old one, will open and in July their newest animal arrivals - three female miniature donkeys are expecting to give birth.

Mr Nicholson said: “There’s all sorts going on - we have got our hands full.

Pictured, Rob Nicholson with lambs at Cannon Hall Farm. Photo credit: JPIMediaResell/ Tony Johnson

“We are still here looking forward to reopening and we have a spring in our step and a smile on our face.”

Elsewhere Georgina Fort, the chairwoman of the Yorkshire Federation of Young Farmers’ Clubs, said moving the organisation's local branch online since the weekly meetings and diary of competitions were postponed had provided a life-line to young farmer members in very isolated, rural areas.

Mrs Fort, a dairy farmer from Silsden in West Yorkshire who steps down from her role next month, after two years at the helm, said membership numbers had fallen from 1,200 to just 105 due to the coronavirus.

She said the club had had to "rely heavily" on sponsorship from local companies and online competitions to keep it afloat.

But she said the organisation faced far greater challenges 20 years ago due to the foot and mouth crisis which saw more than six million cattle, sheep and pigs – around one in eight of all farm animals – and wiped billions from the economy.

“I was a junior member when foot and mouth hit," Mrs Fort said. "Back then all clubs shut down and that was it whereas at least we’ve been able to do something virtually and we’ve been able to keep going."

Pictured, Georgina Fort, the chairwoman of the Yorkshire Federation of Young Farmers Clubs, with Beltex sheep and lambs at High Bracken Hill Farm, Silsden, which she owns with her father and sister. Photo credit: Bruce Rollinson/JPIMediaResell

She added: “For the future the organisation will have the trickier job of trying to get clubs going again and getting people back going to young farmers and back involved.

"But the beauty of having a young membership is they are all very keen."

At High Bracken Hill Farm, which Mrs Fort runs with her father and sister, they are expecting the birth of up to 450 lambs, while the farmer is also celebrating the recent birth of her second son Herbie.

"Life hasn’t changed too much on the farm through the pandemic. We always enjoy this time of year because of the fast pace and new life."

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Beltex sheep and lambs at High Bracken Hill Farm, Silsden. Photo credit: Bruce Rollinson/JPIMediaResell