Lambing season 2022 at Apple Tree Farm

As we forge ahead through the seasons, it feels like we have blinked, and lambing season was over. Every year the expectation of freshly born lambs is all too much. Each morning, as we arrive to work, we momentarily stop, casting our eyes over the fields to inspect for any signs of tiny movement.

This is our fourth year breeding Ouessants so we are not experts by any means. We are not even experienced. We have an idea of what needs to happen when it needs to happen, and the rest is all instinct, common sense, and guesswork.

Lambing season 2022 apple tree farm

Lambing season is a bit like a wedding, in preparation. In October our tup ram spends 34 days with the ewes, this is the proposal. About 150 days after is the start of our lambing season, or the wedding, which will then last about 34 days (give or take to allow for a few early and late arrivals). In between tupping and lambing is the preparation time (aka, the expensive time!).

We ensure the ewes have enough food but not too much, enough grazing (always impossible) but not too much, hay as they wish, a good quality lick bucket, a salt lick and shelter from the elements. They have a stress-free existence, whilst behind the scenes we watch their waistlines expand and try to guess who is pregnant and who is just packing in the extra snacks. With such a small flock, we don’t get them scanned and as our ewes only rarely carry more than one lamb (and by rarely, I mean very rarely), we don’t have to worry about adjusting feed quantities for them.

Lambing season 2022 apple tree farm

Having experienced three years of straightforward lambings, this season took us by surprise. Our first ewe to go experienced a long first stage of labour and when she eventually progressed, she managed to produce a little ram lamb, still in the sac. Sadly, this little dude didn’t survive.

Our first ever loss felt like a blow. The second ewe to go into labour a few days later was also not progressing as expected, so on Easter Sunday I made the decision to call our vet. 2 hours later Gertie arrived by c-section. Beyond this, we have had lambs trying to be born superman style, lambs completely stuck, lambs that needed shoving back in and spinning around and lambs who just appeared out of nowhere!

Lambing season 2022 apple tree farm 3

Shout out to the team at Torch Farm Vets, who have been amazing over the last few months. Having not needed much from them in the previous year or two, we have suddenly had to put them on speed dial recently.

Our flock of registered Ouessant sheep has grown from 9 to 29 in the last four years, and this growth will inevitably mean more expense, more work and occasionally more problems too. It is about learning from these situations and overcoming the problems, looking ahead to easier times.

In the words of Will Rogers, ‘the farmer has to be an optimist or he wouldn’t still be a farmer.’