Counting sheep….zzzz

Major job this week – counting and sorting lambs. ‘Cos we sell our lovely lamb every week of the year we need a steady supply of lambs which is very difficult to manage. ‘Normal’ sheep farmers aim to get their lambs fat and away as soon as they can. We on the other hand have to pace ourselves – we group the animals into size groups and feed them accordingly.

At this time of year they need extra feed to ‘finish’ them but we only need to supplementary feed a few at a time. We therefore have to estimate of how many lambs we’ll need in the next month or so and then select the best and biggest from the main group to bring home and fatten. The group in this picture are doing well but aren’t quite big enough. So they’ll stay out in field until after Christmas. At that point they all come inside as it’ll be cold and muddy by then – unlike today which is sunny and dry!



The Tups are out!

It’s that time of year again. The tups (rams) are out doing their thing, hopefully producing lots of lambs for next March. We have 3 rams – Rocky, Fergus and Squire and they each have about 50 ewes to ‘serve’. We leave them in for 5 weeks which is 2 full cycles and most are served in the first cycle and lamb within 3 weeks.
Each ram has a crayon on his chest which marks the ewe’s bottom when she’s mated and we use different colours for each ram so we know at a glance which ewe had mated with which ram. All very complicated but well worth it. The next scary time is the week before Christmas when we scan them to see if it’s all worked out! Watch this space….


Thank goodness it’s raining

We’re on holiday. First one for 5 years and we’re with some great friends and sometime lambing helpers. Staying near Padstow in Cornwall which is delightful and not too busy.

When you run a business like Whyle House Lamb or any farming operation the biggest challenge is the weather, especially at hay making time. Most of our conservation is done as silage which is easy but we still make a bit of hay for the lambs and to sell for horses.

We need about 5 days to get it cut, dried, baled and carted so we spend a lot of time looking at the forecasts. We use 3 different forecasts and as long as they agree we reckon we’re ok but of course they don’t so it’s always a bit of a gamble.

The most frustrating thing is being on holiday when hay needs making and the sun is shining – so damp and grey this week is the essential precursor to a restful and relaxing holiday. Not sure Mrs Whyle House Lamb would agree though?

One of those days….

It’s been one of those days. Just on my way out this morning when Mrs Whyle House Lamb announced that her PC wasn’t working again. Several hours later it still wasn’t and I’d wasted a morning.

Then went to tidy up a corner of our new seeds with the topper before turning some lambs onto it and smashed the tractor windscreen. Glass everywhere – all over me, the tractor and the dog. Hours spent clearing up, topping done eventually but serious expense and time to fix. And we’ve got three markets and a food festival to prepare for and attend.

Time to give up for today methinks!

Dodging the showers

Got about half the ewes and lambs home for shearing this morning. It’s always a bit of a gamble as we don’t want them home too soon or for too long but we must have them dry for shearing on Tuesday. Wet sheep are difficult to shear and the wool goes mouldy.

The rest are coming home by lorry tomorrow. Charlie can move most of them in his lorry in a couple of trips so it saves us hours of time and fuel.

If you saw Charlie’s lorry you’d think he was called ‘Charles’ but its written like that because he couldn’t find an ‘i’ in his lettering set!

We’ll also sort some lambs from this lot tomorrow and maybe wean the oldest group. We always try to do as many jobs as we can while they’re at home as its so much easier and in the dry!

Had a great market in Tenbury Wells yesterday – it’s a new one which looks very promising. Useful takings despite appalling weather and a lot of support from the public. Only problem was the wind which has wrecked our gazebo so Whyle House Lamb will need a new one which wasn’t in the budget!


Nice show but the garbage stalls are taking over

We went to the Three Counties Show at Malvern this afternoon.  Not been for many years but we promised ourselves  an afternoon off.  Frances even bought tickets in advance so we didn’t get tempted to do something on the farm at the last minute!  It’s still a nice little show but boy is it filling up with rubbish stalls. 

You could buy pretty well anything you wanted – and a great deal you didn’t – from pillows to saucepans and even mobile phone covers – why would anyone want a coloured phone cover anyway??  I’m not sure if it’s a misguided attempt by the organisers to appeal to the non-farming public of if it’s that they want these people’s money.  If it’s the former then its a waste of time and anyway the public like to see farm related stuff – its why they come – if its the latter then it’s rather sad and it will force this show to go the same way as the Royal Show did some years ago and finish completely.

Still the sheep shearing was great fun and we met some old friends and had a couple of useful business conversations so it was a rather pleasant interlude in our busy week.  Even the weather improved as the afternoon wore on.

Another busy day

Got it all done. Seed on bare patches on reseed (which actually aren’t too bare) and harrowed in. Fertiliser on silage ground for second cut and 100 lamb burgers in the freezer for next week.

Weather looks set for a couple more days then some much needed rain on wed to wash the seed and fertiliser in. Silage to cart tomorrow then finish mucking out on Tuesday for shearing next week. It never gets dull around here!