12 Feb Lambing Survival Guide
As we begin February it has suddenly hit me that lambing time is merely a few weeks away! For some of you it may have already begun, you’re probably covered in gunk and sleep deprived as I speak! But it got me thinking of all the stress of the season… the army of pet lambs, that one ewe that enjoys shitting in her water bucket repeatedly and waking up in the dark and going home in the dark which isn’t great for getting ready whilst trying not to wake the other half, I’m sure you’ve all put your top on inside out once or twice or in my case my knickers! Of course there’s many ups and downs, and we’ll always have that day when nothing seems to go right and the lack of sleep seems to catch up on us. But it’s our harvest, what will put money in our pockets for the next year so we put even more pressure on ourselves when things go wrong!
Each year I lamb for around 3 months, (I know, I promise I’m not mad, well….) I start on another farm lambing with around 1000 pure Suffolks and Suffolk crosses with an intensive indoor lambing system, I then move onto a smaller indoor lambing with 700 mules and finish with our own flock of 300 lambing outdoors. And I can assure you once I get to the end of the third lambing I have no desire to do a forth! The good thing is though, I can compare different systems and see what I think is better to use/do on our own flock. I’m quite nosey really but what farmer isn’t! Although most of you have been a farm wife for some time and know exactly what happens at lambing time, what to look forward to and what to dread, but I thought to myself what would a newbie want to know or expect. So I thought I’d take it upon myself to write a lambing survival guide for the new farm wife and hopefully the rest of you can relate too!
1- Batch Cooking – Prepare meals like cottage pie, curry, soup and lasagne and freeze so no matter what time you get finished or even if you have to feed more people over the season, there’s a hot meal available without stressing. Another tip, if you haven’t already got one, get yourself a slow cooker! Hot stews, pulled pork, beef dips and mince and dumplings, all things ready for when you come in the house and if your partner comes in later it means his tea will still be hot and fresh after a long day.
2- Check Pockets before washing, I can not tell you how many rubber rings, pieces of baling twine and disposable gloves have gone through our washing machine. Maybe that’s why it ended up breaking and flooding the kitchen last year…
3- Don’t leave feed bags in the shed unless you want to be mugged or listen to hundreds to hangry mothers shouting for a good 10 minutes, especially during night shift! I can remember feeling like I was in mission impossible trying to get from one half of the shed to the other, just because I’d brushed past a bag! There i was with a jug of of milk in one hand and tubes/bottles in the other, clearing gates like an Olympic hurdler and trying to swim through the sea of fluffy sheep, with the end result being covered in a few litres of milk! The rest of the day was spent in a soggy bra and my hair stuck to my sticky neck with a few swear words here and there!
4- Get ready for a bad fake tan – the amount of iodine that will be spilt on your hands, arms and clothes is frustrating and sadly a nightmare to get off! Although any agricultural person would know straight away the dodgy orange marks on your arms are just iodine, you may get some strange looks when popping to Sainsbury’s.
5- Get ready for a ride – and no I don’t mean a horse or anything naughty! You will probably remember the first few times you had to catch a ewe as a new farm wife and maybe even a few bruises to remember too! I can bet you’ve all done this once or twice before… when you’ve caught a new mum and decided to pen her up, putting her between your legs and holding her chest to walk her over. Or at least that’s what is meant to happen, whether they are too enthusiastic, flighty and strong or your simply a short arse like me, I can still remember the time I was swept off my feet and took on a wild rodeo ride around the shed.
6- Learn to breathe – when that lamb kicks over a full box of rubber rings losing them in the straw, just count to three, they’re a gonna and there’s no point in flapping! When your other half hasn’t had enough sleep and finally snaps, just walk away, he doesn’t mean it and it’s pointless fighting! Then again if you wish to tell him to p*ss off and do it himself, sometimes it’s better to just let it out!
7- You will be WWE ready in no time – You’ll spend weeks wrestling ewes down to the ground to give them a helping hand and I can promise there will be some moves on your half you didn’t even think you could do. The sneaking up and pouncing onto her, the one where you just miss her but hold on for dear life around her neck until she decides to give up and fall to the ground because I can promise you now you won’t want to let go of that b*tch or how about when you have to frantically run like a mad woman and practically flying across a group of ewes to catch that one fruit loop ewe that starts running away when you’re at the far end of the pen, never mind a few metres away! Trust issues much?
So new girls I hope I haven’t scared you off because despite this, lambing time really is amazing helping bring new life into the world! Take your time to enjoy it whilst it lasts. And I hope this reminded the rest of you some of the first memories of lambing you’ve had, hopefully putting a smile on your face whilst doing so.
The Girl in the Green Tractor x