A farming family from Orton in Cumbria face a massive clear-up operation after tonnes of mud poured into their farmyard destroying their sheep-handling shed.

Flooded shed

© Rebecca Dickens

The incident took place on Saturday (5 November) night at Raisgill Hall Farm, which is farmed by Steve and Barbara Dunning, along with their son Mike and daughter-in-law Charlotte.

They run 130 dairy cows, plus followers and lamb 650 ewes.

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Rebecca Dickens, who lives in a cottage on the farm, said the family had been well prepared for flooding because the River Lune and Raisbeck converge behind the sheep shed.

Heavy rains as a result of Storm Desmond had already prompted the family to evacuate 15 calves, 100 fattening lambs and 20 December-lambing ewes to their other holding which fortunately sits on higher ground.


Flood waters

© Rebecca Dickens

With parts of the farmyard underwater, the family then decided to put their six farm dogs in a livestock trailer parked in the shed believing it would be a safe place for them until the waters receded.

Flooded land

© Rebecca Dickens

“The first thing anybody knew was when the heating oil tank hit the back of the main farmhouse. When we looked we saw the mud had come down and completely squashed the shed.

“At least 50 yards of the field had given way.”

Miss Dickens said miraculously the dogs all managed to escape unhurt and everyone was thankful that no one had been in the shed at the time.

Flooded farmland

© Rebecca Dickens

“Charlotte had not long finished feeding the dogs and so she could have been in there.”

Miss Dickens added that her own partner, Darren Douthwaite, who works on a neighbouring farm, had also been lucky in that he’d only just walked across the bit of field that gave way as he made his way back to work.

Car in collapsed shed

© Rebecca Dickens

“It was scary, but no animals or people were hurt so everyone is thankful for that. However, it is going to take a lot to put right as there is so much mud to shift. It will be a big job.”