Shearing 101: What happens?

Having grown up on a working sheep farm, I have witnessed thousands of sheep be sheared safely and professionally each year.

So to counter some of the myths and misconceptions circulating which suggest shearing is cruel and exploitative, I thought I’d document an afternoon in a shearing shed in Lancashire, UK.

The videos and photographs have not been altered/photoshopped so what you see is what happens for yourself.

SHEARING

Here is a video of Luna, my ‘pet sheep’, being clipped.

This is a typical example of how sheep are sheared in the UK.

Seth, our local shearer, completes the task in 54 seconds.  

This may not be the quickest time but notice how the sheep is relaxed and unharmed by the process.

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The trailer set up

Farmers usually hire skilled and patient shearers who care for the welfare of the sheep – after all it is their livelihood in the shearers’ hands!

If a shearer is careless and unprofessional, word of mouth gets around and so they would not get any business.

No farmer would hire someone who physically abuses their sheep!

Seth (left) and Chris (right) busy shearing

I have yet to encounter a shearer who attempts “fast work without regard for the sheep’s welfare” a claim on PETA’s website.

Possibly because shearers are often from farming backgrounds themselves and so understand the animals they are dealing with.

They shear the sheep as if they are their own, taking extra care and time rather than rushing to “get the most sheep done”.

Sheep often move when being sheared but it is rare that shearers actually cut them.

If the sheep is injured, farmers and shearers work together to treat it immediately.

It is utter nonsense sheep are left to bleed out or shearers quickly do a ‘botch job of the stitching to save wasting time’ – every sheep is cared for on our farm without a time limit!

Shearing sheep also provides farmers with a chance to check their flocks health.

We can clearly identify which sheep is lame/has a bad bag whilst it is being sheared and so mark it with spray so that we can treat it afterwards. 

So shearing sheep helps us identify any health problems the sheep may have and treat it as soon as possible.

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You can clearly see the bag and feet with this angle

Once sheared, the wool is wrapped.

And this is what freshly sheared sheep and tups look like …

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Freshly sheared texel tups
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Freshly sheared ewes

Notice the lack of blood gushing from limbs?!

WOOL WRAPPING 

Here is a video of me showing you how to do it (not my best or quickest attempt but you get the gist).

Below is a before and after photograph of wool wrapping.

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Before and after

The wool once wrapped goes into wool bags which are then stitched and  labelled so that the British Wool Board knows where the wool has come from and who to pay!

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Once wrapped, wool gets placed into the bag
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Once the bag is full it gets stitched up
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Then we add labels

Nowadays wool does not bring a lot of profit to a farmer, especially after paying the shearers and labourers.

In fact, the average wool cheque prices for 2019/2020 had ‘halved’ due to Covid-19 global market closure, with farmers receiving an average of 32p/kg for their wool.

So the idea that sheep are shorn for ‘monetary motives’ seems bizarre, given the lack of a profit margin within in the wool industry.

The best reward sheep farmers can get from wool is this certificate!

WHY DO FARMERS SHEAR SHEEP?

Sheep farmers shear their sheep usually once a year during the summer months when the temperatures become hot.

They do this because it has great health benefits for their flock, in that shearing:

  • Prevents buildup of manure and urine that can lead to parasitic infection and flystrike- long fleeces are likely to become dirty and drag along the ground.
  • Allows adequate wool regrowth which improve the sheep’s ability to control its body temperature during extreme heat and cold conditions.
  • Creates a clean environment for newborn lambs.
  • Decreases the chance of heat stress.

It is crucial to shear sheep annually for the sake of their health and not to do so would be incredibly cruel and detrimental to the flocks health.

I hope you have found this blog post informative and let me know if you have any more questions about sheep shearing!

Off back outside enjoying their new haircut

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#LoveLambWeek

Unsurprisingly for a sheep farmers daughter, Love Lamb Week is my favourite campaign in the farming calendar – here’s why

It’s finally here…  the best campaign in the farming calendar (although as a sheep farmer’s daughter I am a bit bias!).

#LoveLambWeek is an annual campaign promoting the work of British sheep farmers and their efforts in providing the produce on your plates.

With over 65% of the UK’s farmland suited to growing grass (aka unable to grow crops), especially in Upland areas, grazing livestock is the best way of converting natural resources into protein rich lamb.

Grazing plays a key role in shaping and maintaining our iconic countryside and also stores a huge amount of carbon – a win win for everyone!

Swale lambs grazing at 1000ft above sea level

This year’s campaign, running from the 1st – 7th September, is all about celebrating everything that is tasty about sustainable British lamb and the health and wellbeing benefits of eating this red meat.

I’m quite old fashioned in that I like my lamb chops served with roast potatoes, veg and a dollop of homemade mint sauce.

But with recipes for lamb kebabs, herb rubbed steak and pies popping up all over the internet, the versatility of this delicious meat is becoming common knowledge, which is great to see!

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Teriyaki Lamb Stir-Fry

Here’s a link to some awesome lamb recipes from @simplybeeflamb should you wish to expand your tastebuds and cook something new! http://www.simplybeefandlamb.co.uk/campaigns/love-lamb-week

But whilst this is a week of celebrating this sustainable protein rich red meat, it is also a week of educating and shattering misconceptions about the production of lamb.

Some of these misconceptions have already surfaced on my social media timeline.

For example, this image.

It shocks me how misleading this image is.

Suggesting that the lamb in the photograph is a few months old is laughable – at most it is 4 days old.

Here is a photograph of a few months old lambs – let’s play spot the difference.

Just a shed full of lambs

Notice how these lambs are much bigger, with broad legs, neat and compact shoulders, have a good width of loin and their tails are not too lean or fat.

These are the kind of lambs, known as finished/fat lambs, that are served on your plate – not the week old cute and cuddly one in the photograph.

But what bugs me more is the misconception that farmers are cruel to their sheep!

The reality is that sheep farmers care too much about their flocks wellbeing and a lot of time and planning goes into producing a lamb!

A short insight into a year of lamb production…..

Autumn If farmers did not care, we would not spend days at an auction ringside, bidding at sheep/tups sales for additional or replacement stock to ensure our flock grows in strength.

Winter If farmers did not care, we would not drag ourselves from our comfy warm beds at 5.30am to scan sheep in the freezing cold morning or go searching in blizzards of snow for lost sheep.

Spring If farmers did not care, we would not tire ourselves out during Lambing time for months on end.

The list of daily jobs include: bottle feeding pet lambs, marking and turning out, bedding up, feeding up, checking outdoor sheep, bringing in any poorly lambs – to name a few.

Oh and of course, lambing sheep!

If farmers did not care, we would not spend hours out in the fields checking on new born lambs and running after them until we are blue in the face trying to catch them so that they could go back inside for some extra TLC.

We also would not free the lambs who get their heads stuck in fences and suffocate themselves, a notorious party trick for horned lambs!

There is always one!

Summer If farmers did not care, we would not spend most of our time maintaining our flocks welfare through daily chores of dosing and foot-trimming (the smelliest job!).

If farmers did not care, we would not work long hours gathering and sorting lambs to go to the auction/abattoir in sweltering hot conditions.

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In charge of tagging

So, think again before stating farmers do not care as we clearly do! This, in short, is how the lamb on your plate is produced each year.

A final point to mention is that not all lambs are produced solely for meat! For example, on our farm we select Swaledale/Texel  lambs each year in order to improve the quality of our future flock.

For me, #LoveLambWeek is an incredibly important campaign that sheep farmers everywhere need to get behind.

It is time we educate our consumers about the provenance of their meat, rather than leaving it all to Google.

If you are still unsure about eating lamb, ask your local farmer questions and if possible, go and see how lamb is produced.

Support us by buying lamb directly from local butchers or consciously selecting British Lamb at the supermarket.

And finally join in with #LoveLambWeek and promote our hardworking sheep farmers!

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10 signs you know Christmas has arrived on the farm!

As I’m feeling slightly festive, a rarity for me, here are 10 signs you know Christmas has arrived on the farm!

The 3 Wise Reps 

Similar to the nativity scene, the festive period warrants an annual visit from local reps who come to the farm bearing gifts of calendars, chocolate and whiskey as a thank you for your custom over the past year.

It is an age old tradition replacing the advent calendar; as soon as you see the rep, you know Christmas is around the corner.

Double order everything 

Most things shut down over the Christmas holidays and the farming industry is no exception to this rule.

Experience has taught you to order that extra proven to tide you over until the New Year, as feed wagons don’t and won’t work on Christmas Day!

But for some reason the bills keep coming…

Beware the practical presents 

Being pragmatic is something every farmer has a knack for and this is most evident in the giving of practical presents at Christmas time.

Try and look excited as you unwrap yet another pair of overalls, new wellingtons or a head torch for lambing time: it was bought with good intentions, honest!

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Make sure the turkey fits in the AGA 

Farmers get overtly excited when they realise they can secure a bargain and this happens every Christmas with a visit to the local Turkey Sale.

Despite going to purchase a 17lbs for Christmas Day, it’s not unusual to leave with not one, but two cheap 22lbs!

And whilst you personally may delighted with your bargains, the person cooking the Christmas dinner certainly isn’t when they realise the bird doesn’t fit in the AGA.

Cue a few curse words, some last minute butchering skills and a promise that next time you’ll just stick to the prescribed shopping list!!

Jobs before Presents 

It is still a working day meaning daily jobs, such as milking and feeding up, need to be complete before any presents are unwrapped!

On the plus side, the folks are used to getting up early, meaning you never needed to wait for them to wake up as a child before you could open anything.

Rating fields in terms of sledging speed

There is something enchanting about fields covered in glistening untouched snow – especially for a child growing up and playing on the farm.

With slopes and fields galore, you have ranked each one over the years on how fast your sledge will go down the hill and still have favourite field to sledge in.. even at the age of 22!

However, please note that sledges, ropes and quad-bikes do not mix and will only end in tears…

Holly Seekers 

Christmas time means holly seekers come out in force, looking for berries to make some festive decorations.

And whilst it is tempting to send these festive people found rummaging in your hedgerows away, experience shows acts of kindness are sometimes rewarded ….

Like that time when we awoke to find a handmade wreathe on our doorstop!

What’s a Carol Singer? 

Certainly something only found in films.

The mere thought of carol singers trekking all the way down the snowy and slippery lane just to sing you a song is simply absurd and amusing.

But fair play if anyone has ever turned up outside your farmhouse and belted out a carol or two!

Lost Christmas Walkers 

Everyone loves a good countryside stroll and for some reason townies choose the festive period (Christmas Eve/Day/Boxing Day) in particular to go on one.

Be prepared to answer the door to a lost walker half way through your turkey dinner: it is guaranteed to happen one year!

Mouthwatering Kitchen Smells 

You certainly never went hungry at Christmas time in a farm house.

From Christmas cakes, mince pies and festive trifles to homemade stuffing, pastries and cheese sauce, farmers wives and mothers have the festive menu perfected and you are guaranteed to leave the table feeling as obese as the turkey you just devoured.

You have dreamed about this meal all year long and every year it just keeps getting better.

And nobody’s Christmas Dinner will ever come up to scratch!

Those are my 10 signs Christmas has arrived on the farm. But what are yours?

I hope you have enjoyed this festive post.

All that is left for me to say is Merry Christmas Everyone and a Happy New Year!

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9 things farmers want countryside walkers to remember…

Everyone loves going for walks in the country.

It is hard not to with such amazing scenery, crisp fresh air and abundance of nature. There is just something homely and tranquil about it.

Yet the countryside is also a hectic workplace for farmers up and down the country who are just trying to make a living the best way they know how.

As farmers, we want everyone to be able to enjoy the countryside as much as we do taking care of it, but we really appreciate some respect for our workplace when you are out and about on your weekend strolls.

Here are nine things farmers would like countryside walkers to remember…

       1. Cows live in the countryside too!

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No matter how fluffy it looks, do not pet the calf!

Contrary to social media opinion, cows, bulls and calves still occupy the fields on a regular basis and are often found chudding happily away without a care in the world.

But be prepared for their reaction to you and your dog, especially if there is young livestock nearby.

After all, cows are protective of their newborn young – something seven year old me discovered!

Remember to remain quiet and calm when walking through a field of cows and calves, avoiding any startling movements that may spook them.

And should the worst happen, let GO of your dog and its lead – it can outrun a cow, meaning you can get to safety separately, saving yourself buckets of sweat and a lot of swearing!

      2. Pick up your dog muck 

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A local farmer’s sign! CREDIT: Lorraine Keogh

Dog poo is known to spread Neosporosis – a disease causing cows to abort their calves or become infected if carried to term.

It is a massive pet peeve for farmers, since it only takes dog walkers a few seconds to pick up poo and dispose of it correctly, but failure to do so can cost a farmer his livelihood!

Poo really isn’t a big deal –  farmers deal with tons of it on a daily basis, whether cleaning out sheds, milking cows or muck-spreading.

So take some responsibility and clean up after your pooch – after all you really wouldn’t like it if we came and left our cow crap in your back garden!

3. Buy an up-to-date map .. and stick to it! 

Like most things in life, changes can happen and land is no exception to this.

New ownership means that public footpaths are often redirected to suit a farmers’ long term plan, meaning you should use an up-to-date map to avoid trespassing and being shouted at!

It will also save you knocking on farm house doors/ walking into lambing sheds to ask for directions and taking up a farmer’s precious time, meaning you have more time to explore the countryside, and the farmer can carry on with his daily tasks like normal.

      4. Leave the gates alone

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Leave the gates alone!

If you find the gate open, leave it open.

If you find the gate closed, leave it closed.

Farmers leave gates exactly how they want them and nothing is more frustrating than moving a flock of sheep or herd of heifers to find someone has shut the gate which they are supposed to be turning into!

Just leave the gates alone. Please.

5.  Don’t interfere

Don’t get me wrong, farmers appreciate your concern and are grateful when you inform us about something wrong you discovered on your walks.

But more often than not, we are aware that our tup is lame or that there is a gap in the fence and we are dealing with it. There really is no need for you to interfere.

Unless it is something urgent, such as the pigs have escaped and are making a mud-bath of the village green, presume we have it covered!

6. Unless a sheep is on its back 

Please intervene if you see a sheep on its back struggling to get up – it is ‘rigged’ and will not be able to get up by itself.

7. Don’t rely on 3G 

It may be the 21st century but the countryside still has sparse 3G and limited signal!

Chances are google maps will fail to load and you’ll be stranded in a field completely lost, with limited signal to call for help should an emergency occur.

And whilst you think you may look really cool re-enacting the Simba scene, you just look like a daft townie to farmers, who forgot to buy an up-to-date map and lack a common sense of direction.

Just put your smartphone away and enjoy the countryside in all its glory. You can Instagram that photo of the view once you are back home with a cuppa.

      8. It is private for a reason 

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Farmyards are incredibly busy and sometimes dangerous workplaces, making them private for a reason!

Just stick to the footpath.

We are not trying to hide anything from you, rather prevent an accident from occurring – we are often not aware of your presence and so have not factored it into our (mental) risk assessment of our task.

The last thing we want is for a member of the public to be hurt on our farm. So please just stick to the footpath, and if you do have to cross a farmyard to reach your destination be quick and quiet – no dawdling!

9. Keep your dog on a lead around livestock

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Time for walks

The countryside is a great place to exercise your dogs but please remember to keep them on a lead around livestock.

If I have to shout at any more dog walkers, I will go blue in the face!

Yes, most of you keep your dogs on leads when in fields with livestock and I cannot thank you enough.

But for those that don’t, try telling the farmer who has found his beloved flock dead, maned and stressed your excuses: ‘my dog would never chase or kill a sheep/ he’s so well trained he doesn’t need to be on a lead / she’s too small to do any damage’ and then watch his reaction.

As owners, you should realise dogs have sudden instincts and every dog is capable of harming sheep, regardless of temperament, size, breed etc. Just take some RESPONSIBILITY.

The last thing farmers want to do is lawfully shoot your pooch but sometimes there is no other alternative.

Just keep your dog on a lead around livestock. It is that simple.

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No better sight!

So those are my top nine things I, as a young  farmer, would like countryside walkers to remember during their weekend strolls.

It really is possible for everyone to enjoy the countryside and still be respectful to the people and animals living and working there!

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10 things you’ll know if you grew up on a farm

Being at home for summer has made me feel nostalgic.

Here are 10 things you will know if you grew up on a farm!

Nothing is ever a five minute job 

If they say it is then they are lying!

You’ve learned from experience that lending a ‘quick hand’ turns into a twenty minute operation followed by a list of jobs that takes you all morning to complete, making you question why you volunteered in the first place.

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Moving sheep takes longer than 5 minutes

Bale twine fixes everything 

Waterproof trousers too big? Bale twine belt.

Setting up a temporary race? Bale twine.

Lost your dog lead? Bale twine.

You’ve probably lost count of the amount of times someone has asked you for some whilst working. It has happened so often that you dream about charging. After all, it’s an essential pocket requisite that fixes almost every problem.

You can’t out run a sheep

But you can certainly try! You counted this as your daily workout as it left you out of breathe and threatening to sell the troublesome (to put it politely) ewe at auction the first chance you get.

There is no such thing as being snowed in 

Snow is no longer exciting when there is a 4×4 always on hand. But you do look pretty cool rocking up to school on your dad’s tractor.

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Dad to the rescue

Who let the ewes out? 

Field gates left open becomes a Spanish Inquisition around the kitchen table. No matter how many times you proclaimed your innocence, the blame was assigned to you and dad muttering ‘next time I’ll do the job myself’.

Days off always coincide with bad weather

Booking planned events and actually going is something of a novelty to you. Especially in summer when you are constantly on call for seasonal jobs.

Friends know from experience that you will be missing in action once the weather forecast improves as you’ll be either in the shearing shed or driving a tractor, whether you want to or not. After all, farming comes first in your household.

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Even on days off you can’t escape farming

What’s a lie in? 

Certainly something that doesn’t happen in your household with your parents considering any time after 8.30am a lie in.

And the horror (and slight envy) when university friends text you at 4pm saying ‘sorry I’ve only just woken up’ whilst you have been working hard all day.

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Love/Hate relationship with the weather man 

You developed a changeable relationship with the weather forecasts from an early age as it was the most discussed subject on the farm.

TVs were often tutted at and switched off if they stated unsuitable weather for proposed plans and there was an element of speculation surrounding upcoming forecasts. You constantly played a game of who dares win and it was typical for it to rain once you have grass down.

But no matter how many times you trolled the internet in search of a more favourable weather report it always stayed the same – or sometimes got worse! You just learned to get on with it.

Smartphone but no signal 

You have spent years searching for a certain spot in the shed where there is enough signal to send a text. In fact you have perfected the lion king scene, holding the phone up high and hoping it sends.

Yet dodgy signal still plagued your rural life and internet was a rarity. People who sent Snapchats/Instagram posts from the lambing shed simply amazed you!

Fine dining equals a trip to the local auction 

You were more than happy to accompany your dad to the auction and stand around a cold ring looking at livestock just for those auction lunches.  You developed a favouritism towards a certain auction mart cafe and believed they were second best to your mum’s roast dinner.

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Mmmmm

Those are my top ten things – if you have any please let me know below!

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Revision Tips for Countryside Dwellers

A phrase often muttered from Dad’s mouth, ‘I’ll do it later’ seems to be the attitude I, like many students, adopted recently towards revising for my second year exams.

Another technique I mastered was the art of procrastination, with the farmyard offering a variety of distractions making it incredibly hard to stay inside and revise.

Here are my top revision tips for country dwellers with upcoming exams to ensure you utilise your surroundings and do not get too distracted!

Fresh Air & Exercise. 

Being surrounded by fields has never been so advantagoeus when it comes to revision breaks. There is nothing better than taking the border collies for walks through the meadows, or a quick jog around the fields to check if any lambs have got stuck in the fence.  By breaking up study periods into shorter sessions and exercising, you are boosting brain activity for a more effective study, in addition to lowering stress levels and easing the pressure. So put down your highlighters and shove on your wellies for 5-10 minutes or so for a beneficial refreshing break.

Hey there gals

Forever getting stuck

Use friends/family .. and animals! 

Farmers love to talk so why not utilise this opportunity to teach friends and family your revision? By teaching the material to others, you will aid your memory and recall skills as it requires you to learn and organise your knowledge in a clear and structured manner. It can demonstrate you know more than you think or identify areas you need to go back over.

And if you would rather your ‘students’ don’t talk back or ask further questions, then teach it to your favourite heifer/tup/pig/goat/any other farmyard occupant for an additional confidence boost.

Teaching Polly about Ancient Empires rather than sheep

Find the right environment to revise 

Okay, so sitting in the middle of a field or the cattle shed is probably not the best place to revise.

From bees buzzing around to sheep bleating, it is full of interruptions that will cost you your desired grade. Instead, work in an environment that will not distract you, whether its your bedroom, kitchen table, parents’ office, or a local library!

Basically anywhere with a desk, so that you can spread out your revision and get going without any distractions.

Revision Break

Eat well 

Trips to the auction mart offer more than just updates on trade and a chance to have a chinwag with other local farmers in that THERE IS ALWAYS A GOOD CAFE.

Eating a healthy balanced diet can help you focus and avoid illness whilst revising, and the auction cafe serves a variety of good wholesome British food waiting for you to tuck into.

Steak and Mushroom Pie @ Gisburn Auction Mart

Ham, Egg and Chips @ NW Auctions

Steak and Ale pie @ NW Auctions

Create a plan 

Just like farming in that you plan your activities such as dosing sheep on a Tuesday, cleaning the tractor on Wednesday afternoon and possibly cutting the grass should it continue being sunny on Friday morning, you need to create a revision plan that is achievable in terms of the subjects you are revising and the time available.

And just like farming, your plan needs to be flexible as somethings may take longer/be harder than you though – if you haven’t grasped a certain topic area, try looking at it from a different approach rather than postponing/ignoring it. Be flexible but stern in your approach to revising and you will reap the benefits!

Washed the tractor …

Treat Yourself 

WELL DONE FOR REVISING – nobody ever says this in real life but they really should. It is important that you reward yourself when you have finally grasp a tough subject/remember a definition/can quote a literary text. So whether you have been eyeing up a new Schoffel fleece, a vital tractor part or simply an ice-cream from your local dairy farm, go ahead and do it. YOU DESERVE IT.

Oops!

Think Positively and Relax

Revision can be very dispiriting, especially when you’re working on subjects that you struggle with.  But it needs stressing that failing exams is not the end of the world – seriously.

All you can do is give it your best shot, like everything in life. Remember your sole value is not that you got a B in GCSE Chemistry or an 51 in your University Economics module exam.

You have skills and talents beyond the classroom, such as an ability to shear sheep, drive tractors, plant trees, bake delicious cakes or bombard Instagram with photographs of the farm (GUILTY!) and you should be proud of that.

Just think positive and give it your best shot – nobody can ask for anything more than that.

I like to take photographs of pet lambs

So those were my revision tips for country dwellers. Let me know if you found any of them helpful or have any of your own to suggest!

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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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