It seems like spring has arrived – daffodils are out, hawthorn is about to come into leaf, there are lambs, calves and a plough on the ground and even some fresh snow on the back hills.

Our 125 pure Texels started lambing yesterday, which come into the shed at night and can stay in if the weather is rough, however, once they have lambed they will need to go outside pretty sharp as they are quite tight – although there is a contingency plan if the weather doesn’t play ball.

I get up once through the night to check them but we try just to supervise than assist. Last year 60% of them lambed themselves, with a further 30% getting a slight help –such as a muddled up set of triplets, backwards or didn’t really need to help – and just 11% needed a pull.

I would consider that unacceptable in a commercial flock but it is much better than when we started. When we use these rams over commercial Lleyn ewes lambing outdoors we don’t help anything like that number. I think the lambing difficulties we have in the Texels has a lot to do with ewe shape and pelvic size.

All we can do at the moment is cull problem ewes and be careful picking the next stock ram. There is talk about information from CT scanning on pelvic shape being helpful in the future.

We have been recording lambing assistance for some time, but actively doing something about it over the last six or seven years. Our main stock ram’s dam has had six crops and never been assisted to lamb and we are culling ewes harder and harder for repeated assists. There are relatively new EBVs available in Texels for lambing ease and birthweight, which I think are settling down to being a useful tool from what I see within our flock.

Lleyns scanned at 181% which is acceptable for an outdoor May lambing, although I’d rather it was up a little. That figure is bang on last year, with barren steady at 3% (most of which were gimmers), twinning is down from 70% to 64%.

Scanning twins is the dream, but realistically 75-80% twins would be our goal – I heard Minette Batters say that ‘a goal without a plan is just a dream’. We do have a plan to increase twinning rate through careful genetic management. I have read that it won’t work and although this is a backwards step, the trend is still positive. So I think it’s still a bit more than a dream.

Ewes are in grand order and we should have them through the yards for a Heptivac before you read this.

We are 15 days into calving going by a 287 day due date, with a few born over the previous week. Of the 181 cows due, 85 have calved. Heifers are three weeks away from starting – we have found that calving them a little later suits better here.

The count for use of the calving jack is at seven – mostly for calves coming backwards – and six with a slight help – four of them in sets of twins. That is probably up on the year and I suspect birthweights are up a little too. It sounds like the vets have been pretty busy with calvings too – perhaps everyone had better silage this winter!

The chooks are not immune to spring-fever either, despite being still suffering from their ‘bird-flu’ imposed lockdown. Their promised release date is April 1, and it can’t come soon enough. They are really wanting outside – they were laying better than expected in the snow but Debbie is hoping they will pick up more when they get out. The eggs have really lost their colour without getting onto fresh grass and poking about for bugs. She tried a bag of flaked maize to see if that made a difference – they enjoyed it, but yokes are still a bit peely-wally.

Angus’ Scots Dumpys are taking turns at going broody and some cash coming in from pullet, and even a couple of cockerel, sales has inspired him to get the incubator out too. The planned hatch time should be one of the dates we have for our turn on Go Rural’s Lambathon. We have watched a couple of great virtual tours to lambing sheds at the start of this programme aimed at getting the public engaged with farming, building relationships with consumers and maybe a bit of promotion of some of the agri-tourism businesses we have in Scotland.

Tune in on Facebook at 1pm every day until the end of lambing time for a different story!

Debbie opened up the SAF form last night and will make a start shortly. Experience has taught us that May 17, deadline comes around sooner than you think. It is so much easier than it was 10 years ago, however, I have put a couple of fence-lines up since last year which will have changed two land parcels into five – which is bound to complicate things!

School has gone back to two days a week, which seems to release more time for farm activities – much of this has been taken up by tree planting. Our contractor lost a few months with ice then another with snow – so was relieved to let us get on with this ourselves.

Debbie and the kids along with Conner – who is here on a short-term apprenticeship/ Covid re-training scheme – have planted 3600 native trees which is about six acres worth, with a few extra along some fence-lines.

The duck egg that Angus hatched under a hen last autumn has spent the winter playing in puddles and growing into a handsome Mallard drake. The kids sent him packing this week to fend for himself in a pond a couple of fields away. He beat them home.

Our neighbour puts down some ducks on a pond a bit further away, so his next journey was to join them. I hope he doesn’t make his way home again, because there was some interest being shown in a Mary Berry dish last night that Tally thought might work well with duck!