#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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Glastonbury 2017, Worthy Farm

Words cannot describe how amazing Glastonbury was! I was lucky enough to go for the first time this year as a volunteer for WaterAid UK and I have never had so much fun at a festival before.

Words cannot describe how amazing Glastonbury was!

I was lucky enough to go for the first time this year as a volunteer for WaterAid UK and I have never had so much fun at a festival before.

It was 6 days of pure laughter and excitement that all blended into one and this blogpost will share some of these memories with you.

Getting there 

Because I’m slightly bonkers, I signed up to Hitch to Glastonbury via Leeds RAG Society (Raise and Give) to raise money for WaterAid UK.

My target was to fundraise £250 and I proudly achieved it before the hitch set off.

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Featured in my local paper pre-hitch

Hitch-hiking used to be a popular method of travel many years ago but nowadays hardly anyone does it.

We set off from Parkinson Building, Leeds at 9.30am. We split into two teams and had a bit of a competition about who would get to the campsite in Bristol first.

James, Me, Scarlett and Frankie

I hitched down with James, a friend from university.

Our plan was to be dropped off at service stations on route, in the hope we would bump into someone who was going to the festival.

However, this theory did not always go to plan. For instance we got stuck on some motorway junctions and service stations for hours on end.

Stood at a service station trying to get a lift

Eventually we arrived at our campsite around 5pm.

To our delight, we were the first team to arrive, despite getting into 6 different cars, which was pretty good considering neither James or myself had ever hitched before.

Our home for the night

The next day was even trickier. We realised that the further south we got, the less people entertained the idea of hitch-hiking, even though it was for charity.

But after much walking, James losing his wallet and another 5 cars, we made it to the festival site!

Thank you to every kind (and crazy) soul who stopped and helped us with our journey to the festival – James and I were incredibly grateful and loved hearing your stories.

Work Hard 

As we were volunteering for WaterAid UK at the festival, we got to stay in the volunteer campsite, which was on the same road as Michael Eavis’ farm.

We arrived on Wednesday (the hottest day ever) and felt our bodies melting as we trekked our stuff to the site and pitched up the tent.

Official wristbands and ID

In the evening, we had an induction from WaterAid’s staff about our roles on the site. I was part of the Loo Crew Team, meaning I would be cleaning the long drop toilets.

After the meeting I headed off to meet Ryan and watch the firework display.

 

Firework display

Over the course of the festival I had to work 4 six hour shifts – Thursday (6am-12pm), Friday (12am-6am), Saturday (6pm-12pm) and Monday (6am-12pm).

I would definitely recommend volunteering at a festival to anyone.

You get to see the festival from a different perspective (from finding Michael Eavis’ dairy cows to using restricted access pathways) as well as have the best time working as a team!

The dream time

Play Harder 

As it was my first time at Glastonbury, I was keen to see and do everything with friends from home and Ryan.

Below are my favourite photographs of the weekend.

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From left: Liz, Ryan, Liam, Jess, Me and Emily at the top of Glastonbury hill
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‘Do you really need another Barbour coat Hannah?’
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Loving the cow theme
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View from the top of the Ribbon Tower
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Standard Glastonbury photograph
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THE BEST SIGHT IN A MORNING


The Music 

As a music lover and former music reviewer, I was keen to see as many bands as possible.

Friday 

  • Blossoms
  • First Aid Kit
  • Royal Blood
  • Lorde
  • Radiohead

Saturday 

  • The Amazons
  • Kaiser Chiefs
  • Katy Perry
  • Foo Fighters

Sunday 

  • Barry Gibb
  • Haim
  • Biffy Clyro
  • London Grammar
  • Metronomy
Foo Fighters knew how to PARTY

Overall my first Glastonbury definitely defied my expectations!

It is simply the most magical place (farms always are) and I cannot wait to return one day. Until next time, Worthy Farm!

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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

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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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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