Getting Ready for Lambing Again
On the 1st of November each year, without fail we put the tups out to the ewes for mating. At this time we split the flock into three distinct groups:
Bluefaced Leicester with Scottish Blackface Ewes to breed what are known as "Highland Mules" Nothing to do with a donkey - its a recognised sheep crossbreed.
North Country Cheviots
These are the backbone of store sheep here at Leckmelm and they are reknowned for their hardiness, good mothering ability and excellent quality wool which attracts a slightly higher price than the wool of the Scottish Blackfaced sheep.
The third and final group are the mules who we mate with a Suffolk Tup. Now the suffolk tup is not native to our area and can be soft. Once he has done his business he has to be in the shed all winter out of the cold and fed the best of sileage and hard feed. We breed this particular crossbreed to rear a meat lamb. The suffolk is an old breed, the muscle and fat conformation when crossed with the slow growing quality of the mule ewe makes for a very tasty lamb and we sell this meat at the farm and make a lot of lamb roasts and curries at home too. These lambs are the cutest in my opinion thier floppy ears and sweet nature pulls my heart strings so I try not to get too attached to those that are destined for the freezer!
A lot of folks may wonder how you can cope with giving love and care to an animal and then eating it? This is something I try to reconcile in my head and I do confess there was even a time in my life when I was a veggie. There are so many factory farms globally I think if you choose to eat meat then it is better to know where it comes from and to see the land and people who have raised it. As a species we gave up hunter/gatherer status in the Neolithic era and took up husbandry of animals. I aim to farm as ethically as I can using local suppliers, minimal inputs, grass feed, home produced feed and antibiotics if only absolutely necessary for animal welfare.
So, getting back to my starting point we are now over half way to lambing which starts on 26th March and will go on for 5 weeks. The scanner man Dan the Scan who travels all the way from New Zealand to Scotland has scanned the flock and we are expecting 67 sets of twins, 1 set of triplets and 108 singles. Each day we are now feeding them according to how many lambs they are carrying and hoping for good weather and a good lambing season ahead of us.
Me feeding the ewes in the three acre field at Leckmelm.