We had a tricky start to calving. This year we are calving heifers (first time mums) for the first time and we had some unlucky losses which is always hard to come to terms with. However, we've had some happy, healthy calves born too. See Molly and Freddie doing their checks in the photo and a lovely heifer (little girl) calf enjoying running around.
We helped deliver a big bull calf last night about 6pm from a young mum. She had been in labour a while so we decided to give her a hand. In terms of giving a hand, during assisted calvings we use something called a calving jack, see above. It looks rather sinister, but I can assure you its worth its weight in gold. It holds the calf in position whilst the mum has a rest between contractions, otherwise what can happen is the calf can be pulled back in and the whole process has to begin again. The most heartfelt, wonderful feeling of joy as we realised he was alive as we pulled him out and watching his mum mother him and lick him clean and dry. Its at moments like those that we appreciate the privilege we have in making the difference between life and death.
The farm is a little wet and muddy after the rain we've had the last couple of weeks, we are hoping it will dry in time for lambing, it was hard work last year in the mud. We are lucky that the fields do dry out relatively quickly. The sheep are all looking well and are enjoying their extra food which we carefully work out according to how many lambs they are having. The last few weeks of their pregnancy is critical in terms of the lambs growth, and the mums having sufficient nutrition in order to support the growing lambs inside them.
We spent a lovely morning with the Countryfile team a week ago. They were filming around the South Downs and visited Saddlescombe to speak to us about our Shepherd for a day experience and the National Trust about the history. We also learnt a lot from Matt Baker who is an expert with sheepdogs and gave us lots of useful advice for Fly. We're on this Sunday 5th March!
Camilla, Roly, Molly, Freddie, Finch, Belle and Fly