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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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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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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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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