Filming at the Farm 

The secret can finally be shared…

Last week (10/4/2017) ITV Granada came to our farm in Lancashire to film lambing, in particular the fell sheep.

I got to meet some of the team, such as Jo Blythe (weather presenter) and Simon the cameraman! They were incredibly friendly and eager to get going.

Filming started around 10am and we headed to the fields to get some outdoor footage before the rain started pouring.

Feeding time
Setting up the camera

The photos above show Dad and Jo feeding the Swales whilst the cameraman and producer filmed.

The sheep had just come off Pendle Hill (in the background) ready for lambing.

Seeing as we will be lambing them outside, they are moved to enclosed fields – this is so we can keep an eye on them and get involved should any problems occur.

I enjoy seeing sheep lambing outside, especially the Swales, as they have their own technique – when they are starting to lamb they segregate themselves to the outset walls to give birth.

Then, after a few days and when the lamb is strong enough, the sheep will gradually make their way back up the hill to join the others. It is amazing to watch.

Once we got the footage, Jo interviewed my dad, asking him a range of questions such as ‘When does a lamb stop being a lamb? and ‘How important is farming to the landscape?’

It was great to watch how they filmed the interview from different angles to get in a range of shots.

After a quick brew, we headed back outside to go and see some mules and lambs a few weeks older.


I drove Jo and the producer to Downham in my defender. Dad followed on behind with the camera man and Polly.

Luckily the sun came out and the lambs were running around the field, enjoying the media attention.

We spent a good 20 minutes watching them play as well as soak in the landscape, something we don’t often have chance to appreciate!

Finally, we stopped off at the lambing shed. They were shown the milking machines and the many pet lambs that we look after (up to 200 so far!).

Some of the older pet lambs

We let Jo get into the pen and after a few minutes she was surrounded by nibbling curious lambs! She loved every minute.
Apparently we should market it as ‘lamb therapy’ and charge £50 per hour. Who would be interested?!


And as an extra bonus, a mule sheep had just lambed a healthy set of twins for the cameraman, demonstrating exactly  just how busy and demanding lambing time is!

Newborns

Whilst I didn’t actually get to be in front of the camera, I did teach Jo the correct way to bottle feed a lamb and had a lot of fun chatting about all things farm related.

Me doing what I do best… bottle-feeding pet lambs!

Overall I really enjoyed the day filming at  the farm!

It gave me an insight into tv film producing but most importantly, showcased the hard work farmers up and down the country are currently doing to viewers everywhere!

I think it is important for young farmers like myself to raise awareness about the amazing work farmers do to tackle inaccurate misconceptions and myths about the industry floating around in the media and to highlight the hard work and pride we have for our livelihoods!

After all, it’s not just a job, it’s a lifestyle!

As a special thankyou, the cameraman took an aerial shot of some of our farm with his drone for us to keep.

‘It’s not much, but it’s home’

Tune in to ITV Granada on 8/5/17 @ 6PM to watch and let me know if you enjoyed it!

And if you missed it, here it the link to watch it whenever you have time. http://www.itv.com/news/granada/update/2017-05-08/jo-blythe-helps-with-lambing-in-lancashire/

HB

The end is nigh…

The past 2 months has been extremely busy with lambing!
Thankfully the end is in sight with the Swales happily lambing outside and the inside mules being finally down to double figures *the relief*.

The past 2 months has been extremely busy with lambing!

Thankfully, the end is in sight with the Swales happily lambing outside and the inside mules being finally down to double figures *the relief*.

Whilst I have no new exciting tales to tell, I thought I would share with you some photographs taken from tonight’s farm visit. After all, everybody loves photographs of cute lambs.

Polly was eager to accompany Dad and I on our ‘twice a day check’ of the outdoor hillsheep. We do this to make sure that the sheep and lambs are all okay and are able to intervene if not!

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We drove around the sheep, bringing in any that we were concerned about.


We check for problems as we ride around, looking out for sheep who have lost lambs (either dead or mismothered), who are ill or having problems lamb.

Tonight, we only had to bring two sheep in – one had twins but had unfortunately lost one, whilst the other had neglected to look after its young lamb and it was starving as a result.

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As you can see, Polly was obsessed with the poorly lamb and wanted to get stuck in helping.

Additionally, it is an also an opportunity to take in our surrounding scenery, – that is when we have the time!

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For me, there is no better sight than a sheep outside with healthy twins. It makes me feel wholesome and proud of our work here on the farm.

After checking the outdoor sheep, it was time to venture into the lambing sheds.

We all have indivual tasks to get the jobs done quicker: I go around and fill the various water buckets and hay nets, whilst Dad rubbers and marks lambs. Perhaps the short straw, Mum’s job is to feed the many pet lambs we have acquired.

Below are some general lamb photographs I took this evening for you to browse at!

Before we left, the lambs decided to put on a race for us in their pen. Call it “The Lamb National”.

Now it is time for a strong cuppa tea and a well earned rest – before we go back down later on to do it all over again!

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Lamb seeking name 

Calling all creatives! A incredibly cute lamb has been born on the farm and we need names…

It is typical that the cutest lamb is born when I am away from the farm!

A couple of hours old

Isn’t she a stunner?!


However there is a problem … we don’t know what to call her!

Do you guys have any suggestions?!
Let me know,

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Farming Fridays

Breaking up for Easter means one thing: LAMBS!

I have *unfortunately* missed some of the chaotic rush that Lambing time brings due to being incredibly busy at University. But now that term time has finished for an entire month, I can finally shove on my wellies and get stuck in! (I never thought I would miss the farm and its hectic schedule!)

Today was an incredibly sunny day and Ziggy made the most of it, basking in the sun, whilst I clambered into my Landrover Defender and headed down to the farm.

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Ziggy being the ultimate poser

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Landrover View

To my delight my sheep, Augusta, had lambed overnight and had two healthy lambs without any complications! They are 3/4 Texel and 1/4 Beltex and will hopefully make a good set of lambs.

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Augusta and her two newborn lambs

After checking the other sheep and making sure none were lambing, I helped my dad create a large pen for the numerous pet lambs that are occupying the shed.

First we made a pen for the lambs – it needed a lot of straw and space so that they could run around.

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Stage 1: Prepare

Next, we had to make a board with teets (which the lambs suck on to get milk) and wire it up correctly to the milk machine. This didn’t take too long as Dad knew what he was doing (as we have used these machines for quite a few years now!).

We then checked the teets were working by squeezing them to make sure the milk was coming out.

Then came the tricky part – catching the larger pet lambs and transferring them into the new pen! They certainly worked off their milk intake, as they were incredibly quick and difficult to catch.

It took me a while to transfer them all, as they ran rings around me, but once moved, it is safe to say they LOVED their new home.

Once this task was complete, I helped my mum load the kubota trailer up with sheep and lambs – we often turn twins out into the fields after a few days to free up pen space in the sheds.

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Lambs all ready for the field

As you can see, the lambs go into different compartments – this is to avoid them getting mixed up and going to the wrong sheep, making turning out an much easier process.

Whilst mum was turning the sheep out, I took the dogs for a quick walk as they hadn’t been out of the kennels for a bit.

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Polly admiring the view

Polly, despite being a farm dog, is wearing a lead because she is in a field with livestock! All dog owners must keep their dogs on a lead at all times when in field with livestock (abiding by the countryside code!)

It needs saying once again, due to the numerous amount of sheep worrying stories I have read about recently, that farmers are allowed to shoot dogs worrying livestock and NOT compensate owners! Keep this in mind when walking your pooches on farming land!

Before I set off home for tea, I stopped off to look at some of the smaller pet lambs and have a cuddle.

After tea, it was back to the farm – feeding pet lambs, filling hay nets and water buckets and lambing sheep. Whoever said farmers were lazy clearly haven’t visited a working family farm in Lambing time?!

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Sunday Dog Walk

Home from university once again. After all, nothing beats spending the weekend relaxing in a cosy farm house with unlimited cups of tea and home cooked meals.

Home from university once again.

After all, nothing beats spending the weekend relaxing in a cosy farm house with unlimited cups of tea and home cooked meals.

I spent my Sunday afternoon in typical style; taking our two hard working border collies, Polly and Becca, for a run around the fields with my boyfriend.

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Polly, Ryan and Becca in view of Pendle Hill

They are a fairly new addition to the farm, as for a while we did not have any working dogs. However, they are as good as gold and I could not imagine life on the farm without them.

Polly is my favourite of the two, possible because she is extremely loyal and clingy. She is simply an attention seeker who loves everyone she meets, expecting cuddles whenever she wants them.

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Polly mid cuddle

In comparison, Becca is more independent and quiet, which isn’t surprising given that she is the younger of the two and more inquisitive. Yet she can be stubborn and ignorant, in that she is happy to entertain herself with water or rolling in the ground rather than simply running on ahead.

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Becca playing in what is the worlds smallest puddle!

As they are both pretty crazy and full of energy, it is almost impossible to get them both in the same photograph!

Here was my best attempt and I feel it captures their personalities perfectly: Polly craving attention and Becca playing with a stream, not paying any attention to me at all.

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Becca (Left) and Polly (Right) with me

After 20 minutes of letting them run around the empty field, they were tired out and ready for a rest. As we approached the gate, Becca spied the sheep in the nearby shed and her herding instincts started to kick in.

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Nearly home!

After feeding the dogs in their newly built kennels which they got for Christmas, I quickly checked on some pregnant sheep to make sure they were all okay before heading off home.

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All safe and well

And that was how I spent my Sunday afternoon, walking our dogs on the family farm and checking the pregnant sheep that will be lambing come late February/Early March.

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AS A SIDE NOTE: If you are walking your dogs in the countryside over the next coming months, it is CRUCIAL that they are kept on a lead near ALL livestock!

Nothing aggravates me more than seeing sheep wounded and stressed because of peoples’ pure ignorance that ‘their dog would never attack a sheep’.

Research by SheepWatch UK showed that more than 15,000 sheep and unborn lambs were killed in 2016, with many more injured.

Under the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 and Protection of Livestock Act 1953, the owner or person in charge of the dog who is worrying sheep on agricultural land is guilty of an offence and could be sentenced up to two years imprisonment as well as face destruction of the dog.

Farmers may also ‘shoot a dog which is attacking or chasing farm animals without being liable to compensate the dog’s owner’.

If livestock is nearby  PUT YOUR DOG(s) ON A LEAD.

It is not a big ask!!!

Respect the countryside and its inhabitants.

Sheep worrying promotional sign updated

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Charity Skydiving Adventure

Going to University is all about trying new things; many people try out new sports or find their voice within ACapella. But nothing could have prepared my parents for what I was getting up to.

Going to University is all about trying new things; many people try out  new sports or find their voice within ACapella. But nothing could have prepared my parents for what I was getting up to.

 I had signed up spontaneously to do a 15,000FT skydive as part of Leeds RAG (Raising and Giving Society).

Whilst I am not the most outgoing of people, I have always wanted to do a skydive at some point in my life, just to tick it off my bucket list.

And doing it for charity was surely a good enough reason, wasn’t it?

As I have been brought up on a working farm, I have witnessed first hand the testing times farmers face, such as the Foot and Mouth epidemic back in 2001 or the recent floodings in 2015.

Moreover, as a member of Pendle YFC I am aware of the challenges upcoming farmers are facing, and wanted to do something to raise awareness for the farming industry itself.

Therefore, I chose to raise money for the welfare charity R.A.B.I (Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution) who provide financial aid, relief workers, essential household items, disability equipment and even care homes for U.K (England and Wales) farmers struggling to make ends meet.

Following my decision, I got in touch with the charity over email to let them know about my crazy fundraising effort and they were incredibly supportive, sending me a t-shirt and card wishing me luck with my jump.

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Postal goodies from R.A.B.i

Originally I aimed to raise £200 for the charity. I did this by constantly promoting my fundraising link on social media. My persistence certainly paid over, as I managed to raise £551 – before even jumping out of the plane!

The original jump date was set for 20th February 2016 and we all set off from the Parkinson Building in Leeds to arrive at Hibaldstow Skydive Centre for 10am; the stated time of our briefing.

Yet the weather was set against us, with gale force winds making it unsafe for the jump to go ahead.

Whilst I was a little bit disappointed, I was rather relieved, thinking that maybe I would not have to jump out of the plane after all.

 But part of me was determined to carry out the skydive, and despite another cancellation (this time due to cloud!) which was incredibly frustrating, I finally got the go ahead on the 25th March.

Before I was allowed anywhere near the plane, I had to sit through a 20-minute briefing from one of the experienced skydivers at the center.

He talked all of us through the harness, highlighting where the main parachute was for instance.  He also demonstrated the jumping and landing pose for us, then got us to practice them in front of him to make sure we were able to adopt the correct positions with ease.

After what felt like signing my life away on a sheet which stated my responsibility should the dive go wrong, I was then shown an adrenaline skydive promotional video. I left the briefing super excited, ready to throw myself out of the plane.

But I had to wait. For another 3 hours!

Finally, around 4:20pm I was summoned to the rigging up room. Everything occurred so quickly in the room, pulling on overalls (as a farmer I have mastered this art), attaching the headwear, and then greeting my instructor, who squeezed the life out of me whilst tightening my harness.

Once ready, I was told to wait in the drop zone area for the minibus that was going to take me to the plane.

But typical me, I almost missed the bus!

I quickly jumped on as my instructor began to worry he had left me behind. The bus ride felt like forever and it was at this point the experience felt real; this wasn’t a drill, I was actually going to jump out of a plane today!

The plane itself was tiny, and I was the first in, meaning I was going to be the last out. There was 8 of us crammed into a tiny propeller plane as well as the driver. Space was certainly tight.

As the plane climbs, I stare out of the window, thinking surely this is high enough. But it keeps on going.

With my instructor already having done 4,200 jumps in his lifetime, I felt rather safe, and his smile gave me confidence that I was going to be fine, destroying any nerves that had been brewing.

I look at the altometre, we are at 15,000FT and the door opens.

Blimey, it is cold!

I watch the others vanish into thin air without a care in the world, wondering how they can be so calm.

Then it’s my turn. I edge towards the door, and adopt the position. It’s all very intense and the force of the wind pushing up at you is so strong.

You can’t hear anything, as it’s so loud, yet at the same time utterly peaceful and serene. It sounds so cliché but time simply froze, then without warning, we jumped.

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It’s hard to describe what free falling feels like but personally I found it pretty horrendous.

I’m completely aware that I am falling towards the ground at a hundred and something miles per hour and the wind is so strong I can barely hold myself in the correct position. I occasionally look down but the cold air hits my goggles causing them to mist up.

I’m free falling and blind.

Moreover, I feel unattached and something slowly registers that I don’t seem to be breathing. It was at this point I realized what I had let myself in for; and I just wanted it to be over as soon as possible!

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Then the parachute opens jolting me back up into the sky. I breathe a sigh of relief. I am going to be fine.

But my stomach is in knots and I feel so sick. Especially when the parachute begins swaying and turning sharply.

Despite this, the view is amazing: a patchwork of fields underneath my feet. It seems to be taking forever to reach the ground, and I can feel my blood drain from my face.

I seem to be missing this adrenaline feeling that everyone apparently gets.

Finally, we approach the landing zone and I get my legs as high as I can for the sitting landing.

The cameraman and a spare instructor run towards us in order to make the landing as smooth as possible.

Then we hit the floor. I collapse backwards onto my instructor and I can’t quite believe what I have just done.

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I am in a state of disbelief and shock. After a minute or two of appreciating the ground, I am unclipped and help the instructor gather the parachute, before walking back to the rigging room ready to give the equipment back.

My hands are still shaking as I am congratulated for my dive and given a certificate and a high five.

I am then reunited with my family in the café, who grab me a brew as quick as they can in order to bring me back to life as I just sit there and ponder what I have just done.

I do not regret the skydive however, as I did it for a worthwhile cause and raised an amazing amount of money (£832!) for the charity which will hopefully improve farming families lives for the better.

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However, I think the next time I am feeling charitable, I may just hold a bake sale, where my feet can be kept firmly on the ground.

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Scanning Sheep

The alarm went off. It is 5:00AM. Despite the strong urge to hit the snooze button, I dragged myself out of bed and shoved on as many clothes as possible. Why?

The alarm went off.

It is 5:00AM. Despite the strong urge to hit the snooze button, I dragged myself out of bed and shoved on as many clothes as possible.

Why?

Because it is time to go scanning.

Now, I am presuming most of you reading this will not be from a farming background and so may not know what I mean by ‘scanning’.

Scanning is when sheep undergo a pregnancy ultrasound; the process does not hurt the sheep and allows farmers to determine how many lambs each sheep will have, making management of stock simpler and more efficient.

As scanning often takes places 10-15 weeks after the tup (male sheep) has been introduced to the flock, it usually happens around Jan/Feb time. Hence the need for layers!

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Frosty morning view from the Landrover Defender

My job for the morning was fairly straight forward: keep the sheep coming!

This involved running around the sheep and shooing them up the race; imagine me flapping my arms like a chicken to generate enough movement and noise to get them to move.

Whilst it was quite a repetitive task, it kept me warm, something my toes, which were starting to feel the frost, were glad about.

All the sheep we gathered for the occasion were scanned within three hours and had fairly successful results; most would be having twins or triplets.

Collectively their wool was an array of colours, with each marking representing when they are likely to lamb (green = early as that is the colour of the teaser tup) and how many lambs they will be having.

Next we dosed all the sheep, sorted them into the correct colour groups and herded them back into the fields, all in time for breakfast.

Yet we still have more sheep to scan, and I have a feeling lambing time is going to be a very busy time indeed!

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