As is often the case, the last four weeks have simply flown by, with one day merging into another. This year, lambing time began with a mini heatwave, but was rudely interrupted by a snowstorm that has now led to an unwelcome cold spell.
Like many other farmers in our area, the snow blizzard rather caught us out. The weather forecasts were only issuing a yellow warning as opposed to a red one, which it certainly should have been. After spending most of the night moving sheep and lambs into more sheltered places, the next day, to our relief, we only had five lambs missing. They were retrieved from snowdrifts by means of careful prodding and perseverance.
However, I did have a few lamb losses, and the stress imposed on the ewes caused odd ones to go down. Some of these didn’t pull through, regardless of what I gave them. As one of my neighbours said: “The best thing about lambing time, as you get older, is bedtime,” and that is definitely true this year.
Once again it is the time to put in our SFP application form. I use a local land agent and it is applied for electronically. A few weeks ago a letter arrived from RPA stating some land I rent is common land. The map reference they have given bears no resemblance to the description of the land. So more time will be wasted to sort out another unnecessary problem.
John Bainbridge farms 600ha (1,483 acres) of rented MoD hill land near Richmond, North Yorkshire, along with 21ha (52 acres) of family-owned land with his sons Lance and Reuben. His 1,400 sheep, plus followers, along with 70 suckler cows, are the main farm enterprise.