Christine Ryder and husband Chris farm 242ha (600 acres) at Blubberhouses, in the Nidderdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. They are tenants on their home farm and also run a B&B. Stock includes Swaledale and Mule flocks, as well as a herd of Belted Galloways. The farm hosts educational access visits.
Lambing is in full swing now. Our great plans for lambing as many as possible outside were scuppered by the relentless rain, so we decided to bring them all in. This has had some positive benefits in we have managed to mother some spare lambs onto singles. It is always great when a triplet and single are lambing together as wet lambs are easier to adopt on. It also means less pet lambs for me to deal with.
We have had two vet students from Edinburgh University the last couple of weeks. It has made such a difference having extra pairs of hands, especially when it comes to getting water and hay to all the individual pens. One girl has had lambing experience before down in Wales, and the other young lady is from Singapore where there are not many sheep, but she has taken to the job very well.
Last year we had a lot of problems with turning out healthy lambs and finding after a few days they were getting joint ill and going stiff in the legs. We could not decide why, but in the end put it down to damp straw bedding in the pens. We were cleaning out every pen as it was vacated and using disinfectant but something was not right.
This year we are just putting sawdust down, with some powder sanitiser and so far so good. The pens are staying really dry, and even the pet lambs are on this too.
I do wonder, though, with the relentless days of lambing time how many would be doing this if it was not for ATVs and UTVs. Chris said that as a young man if he had to go and bring in a sheep in difficulty he either walked or went with a two-wheel drive tractor with a mesh box on the back. How times have changed.
The bed and breakfast is in full swing and everyone is having a ’meet the sheep’ experience. I wonder sometimes why I do not charge for this as it is very time consuming. We try hard to keep everything tidy and not leave any dead lambs laying around. I know it is a harsh reality and it is good to educate the public, but it might be just too much for some people.
A chap last week, from London, had never stayed on a farm before. He was complimentary about his stay but then spoilt it by saying he thought I had a lovely little job and it must be great to be finished by lunchtime. I just smiled and went back to the kitchen sink.