Lambing: This week I’ve taken a break from my usual office job to head back to help the folks out with the busiest week in the farming calendar - week two of lambing.
We’ve had Derbyshire Gritstones for more than 30 years, working hard to improve our flock and striving to breed and sell the leading tups at the annual show and sale every October.
Sadly it is a breed which has lost a lot of members in the last 10 years as older members have passed away and their descendants have moved to breeds which are probably higher yielding/more commercial.
We’ve retained them – it’s hard to write off more than 30 years of bloodlines and effort to breed the best stock and the breed does well for us. Let’s face it - selling a tup for £1,500 is equivalent to a lot of store lambs.
Flock: We run one of the largest pedigree flocks in the country and we lamb them all outside at over 1,000ft above sea-level.
We also run a few Swales, Charollais, Mules and Texels about the place. Lambing outside is a joy when it’s sunny but a tough job when the elements are against you - quite a different lambing experience to that which has been portrayed on the BBC’s Lambing Live programme.
Breeding: We’ve got through about one third of the flock in the 10 days I’ve been here and it’s been non-stop. We’ve had a few decent tup lambs and some very nice ewe lambs which is great for flock replacements.
We’ve also managed to get the tups clipped - a job that is never looked forward to (the stock tups are always hard work), but it needs doing now so they’re looking their best for the Derbyshire Gritstone Society sale at Clitheroe in October.
Highlights of the week have been my two year old nephew’s endless desire to be outside ‘helping’, preferably somewhere near a quad bike or tractor. He’s definitely a farmer in the making.
That, plus a difference of opinion with about 30 ramblers who tried to tell me that our field was a footpath.
Showing: Then it’ll be show season – we’ll probably exhibit a few at some of the local shows (Harden Moss) and then I’m looking forward to having a couple of days at The Great Yorkshire Show. I’m then judging the Gritstones at the Westmorland Show in September – it’s not a show I’ve ever been to, so that will be a new experience.
My colleagues think I’m crazy but I wouldn’t change it for the world. Back to the office for a rest next week.
Follow John on Twitter @lambingtales