Dominic Naylor: Family had to take a back seat until lambing was over and done with

I’m writing this on the last day of March. It’s a special day for two reasons. Firstly, it’s my daughter Ruby’s fourth birthday, and secondly we’ve finished lambing.

From start to finish, lambing took just three weeks. We peaked at 65 ewes lambing on one day, which tested the system a bit, but all in all it has gone well. Students were a great help and I hope learned from the experience.

I mention Ruby’s birthday as, similarly to all sheep farmers, my family has taken a back seat during lambing. I did see her one night to say good night to, after liberally applying some ‘Brut Spice’ to mask the stench of cleansing, iodine and sour milk, whereupon she remarked how nice I smelt. ‘I always smell nice’. ‘No Daddy, you usually stink’

I’ve turned out half the flock on what little grass I have, with feed blocks to maintain milk production but the remaining 325 ewes will stay inside until grass levels pick up. As I write hailstones are falling, although my prayers are with those farmers North of the border, for whom winter is most certainly going out like a lion.

The scenes with Humble crying over a dead lamb sum up the BBC’s child-like view on livestock production in Britain

I often debate whether I should walk around the sheep fields or go on the quad bike. Walking is obviously better, but being a mixed farm means I usually have to be somewhere else. Fortunately, I recently chose to walk and heard a lamb bleating, stuck deep within an oak tree.

The lambing shed attracted a lot of non-farming visitors, and invariably they would mention ‘Lambing Live’ with Kate

Humble. While I welcome the idea of the general public being educated in some of farming’s realities, I do wish they wouldn’t sanitise farming so much.

The scenes with Humble crying over a dead lamb sum up the BBC’s child-like view on livestock production in Britain. She’d have more to cry about if she actually relied on that lamb to pay her bills.

Straw availability has become a real concern as supplies dry up. Like other pig farmers, our demand is constant throughout the year. A farming friend in Devon told me of wheat straw worth more than a tonne of grain.

On the arable front, the wheat and barley fields have all had some dairy slurry, using a 24m-dribble bar tanker.

Some of the tramlines have cut up a bit, but with P and K indices of 3 and 4, the policy of utilising slurry on the arable has been a valuable one.

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