Farmer Focus: Lambing courses good farm diversificatiion

We had our last lambing course of the year this week and it was so busy in the sheep shed that students didn’t set foot in the classroom until tea time.

Throughout the day they learned the art of skinning a lamb, fixing a prolapse and stomach tubing alongside the many “normal” births we had. It’s a warts-and-all course and with sheep being so unpredictable, each lambing course is different, with one keen student back for his third.

So many farms diversify and I think part of the key to success is doing something you enjoy. We thoroughly enjoy running courses on the farm and meet some amazing people along the way. Sheep husbandry, livestock and lambing are probably the most popular and smallholders find that learning the art of hand-shearing saves them money. It’s reassuring to read the visitor’s book at the end of the day and we’re pleasantly surprised by the number of people who return on more and more courses. Wildlife courses are a pleasure to teach and although cidermaking doesn’t run until October, every course seems to end up in the cider house! We’re hoping 400 gallons is enough to see us through the year.

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The lambing shed is thinning out and we should have finished lambing here by mid April. I did have a short break away when asked to make some films on health and welfare issues for Crufts and although I was initially apprehensive, I thoroughly enjoyed the experience and got to hang out with Clare Balding and Liza Tarbuck (a very funny lady). It was Jim’s birthday on my return, so it was straight back into the lambing shed and back to the real world with a bump. Oh well, a change is as good as a rest.

The current weather is a blessing and it’s amazing how quickly you forget about previous bad conditions when you have sunshine on your back. Ewes and lambs are thriving in the fields, so here’s to many more days of sunshine. It tops us up with vitamin D, prevents rickets and makes us all smile.

Kate Beavan farms 200ha alongside her husband Jim on one of two family farms near Abergavenny, Monmouthshire. The main enterprises comprise 900 breeding ewes and 50 suckler cows. Meat is sold direct to the family’s traditional butchers shop. Kate and Jim hosted the first series of Lambing Live in 2010.