It would be nice to report that lambing was all finished up – but it’s not really. Kick-off for the main lot of Lleyn ewes here is April 26, so it is basically a May lambing. Ewes have lambed up quickly though and as we gather up the stragglers into a single field for ease of checking, there are only a handful left.

With a fully recorded pedigree flock, everything is tagged and logged at birth (or at least within a day or two). So in theory, I should have some stats to share with you, however in practice, all I can really say at this point is that we have had a lot of lambs.

We are running low on a number of things – the orf vaccine ran out at the weekend and we can’t seem to get any more (I hope that doesn’t come back to bite us), but also tags, coloured spray cans, cakes and biscuits – but mostly sleep. Fuelled by adrenaline, coffee and the cooking chocolate at the back of the baking cupboard, I know that when we do slow down in the coming week that it will be a big crash!

It’s a good job most of my holiday house guests have been fairly low maintenance over the last few weeks.

We have had some odd tea-time combinations resulting from ‘freezer surprise’ in the Raeburn along with jacket potatoes chucked in at lunchtime. Clothing was straight-forward for the first 10 days – simply as much as possible under waterproofs. But latterly we have had to branch out to some odd combinations of sunglasses and shower-proof jackets; or boots, waterproof leggings and never the right number of jumpers. Definitely no shorts yet!

Fancy wellies and waterproofs have made lambing a lot more comfortable, as have quad-bike accessories such as windshields and heated handlebars. A radio in the lambing shed makes feeding pets more pleasant and the big bag of sweeties that Auntie Diana left has kept the mood up at times too.

It seems to have gone reasonably well though. Outdoor lambing is very weather dependant and although it has not been a great spell, we have had very little constant heavy rain or bitter cold – and importantly not together. It’s just been dismally miserable most of the time.

We keep a white-board in the lambing shed next to where the quad-bike trailer docks. Any dead lambs are chalked up on the board under ‘reasons for death’ headings as they go into a bag for collection. Cold or weak only accounts for a dozen lambs out of more than 1600 born so far. There are a few ‘watery-mouth’ in marked lambs about three days after any really miserable days, and very few lost to predation by good fortune, good neighbours and good gamekeepers.

When the SAC May Lambing Group was formed a number of years ago, a few ‘guidelines for an easy time’ were developed. They included mixing gimmers through with the main flock (to avoid a field full of inexperienced mothers), and maximum of 50-60 ewes in any field (theory being that only a handful should be lambing each day, reducing the chances of mix-ups).

We have been gradually bending the rules as the maternal behaviour of the flock has improved. Lambing the gimmers (along with a few grannies) in the most sheltered field where we can then give them preferential grazing has led to better-fed lambs, fewer hacked teats and less mastitis in this more vulnerable group.

Re-seeding the field has resulted in a huge abundance of feed even after stacked in 130 gimmers. They have been super little mothers with very few problems in that field. It is great to come across a gimmer with a pair ready to tag, tucked amongst the grass in a patch she has grazed tightly over the day or so since she gave birth, obviously not having had to move from her little nest.

It was a herb-rich seed-mix which has come with a lot of chicory and plantain along with white clover. I’m not sure if their behaviour is anything to do with some extra herbs in the mix. The only other thing that I can identify for sure is a tremendous take of docks.

Another sheltered field we make use of has the well-worn Cateran Trail footpath running through it. It is interesting to see how little impact most of the walkers have on lambing ewes. I watched a ewe that had lambed on the footpath, suckled her lambs and then tucked them up behind a tree react to a couple of walkers who quietly approached her. Both parties stood and respectfully eyed each other for a few minutes before those with the brightly coloured anoraks quietly walked past within a few meters of the still sleeping lambs.

Quite a contrast to the guy that thinks it is OK to walk a pack of dogs off the lead and have a close look over the fence at a lambing field. We know we are lucky that we have had no sheep worrying incidents, but even that level of disturbance creates problems as for the next two or three hours these ewes are all pushed up into the far half of the field.

Tally, our daughter, welcomed about 100 people onto the farm for ‘Lambing Experiences’ while Texels were lambing in the shed. People really enjoyed feeding and playing with the pet lambs and by good fortune a lot of them managed to see a birth. There was a huge range of reaction to seeing a ewe lambing – some excitement, a lot of awe, occasionally overwhelming, and one or two were just a bit freaked out. It’s a magical time – lambing – and we’re lucky to be part of it.

Skye, our Jack Russell, which considers herself a sheepdog and slightly above chasing rabbits enjoyed all the attention that came with having visitors to the farm. On a trip to see the hens, she got so excited that she actually caught a bunny and proudly emerged from under the henhouse with it squeaking in her mouth. Some awkward looks from parents were allayed when a six-year-old said: “Oh look, the doggy found a squeaky-toy”!

Calving has nearly finished, cattle are mostly out now – very late because of late spring, slow growth and quite wet underfoot. Fertiliser was bought late to the great advantage of a price drop and Finlay the Young Farmer, who is helping out for a few months, has got most of it spread already. Barley got sown between showers, but grass reseeds could do with getting in if ground conditions improve.

After some discussion with the accountant, we decided to move the year end from November to March this year – giving us a 16-month financial year just ended. My understanding is that many farm businesses will need to change to fit with new HMRC rules. Who knows: Maybe with good lambings and the cattle trade – by the end of the year we’ll all be worrying about paying tax?

Ah, lambing and springtime – it’s a time of great hope and endless possibilities!