Hill Farming, Lambing

Progress Report!

Several of you have asked what happened to the poor little lamb that rolled in pooh and got rejected because it smelled like a dead badger.

After two harrowing days (for me) in the adopter, the ewe couldn’t tell her large washed and dried lamb from the smaller lamby lamb and they all left together.


Interestingly the mother seemed less stressed in the adopter than she had before when she was having to constantly fight off smelly alien lamb and protect her lovely lamby lamb from the atrocity.

Also she liked the catering arrangements in the adopter — so much so that at feeding time she now brings her two lambs back into the shed and into her pen to be fed and so that I can weigh them!  Sheep like routine!



The rest of the time they are outside with the other twins.


Some of this years twins playing out.


Hill Farming

Puddle-duck Investments!

There is a story that farmers tell all over the world – it goes something like this:

‘a farmer had a family so he bought a cow to provide milk but it gave more than they could drink so they made butter and cheese to sell at the farm-gate but this left them with lots of buttermilk and whey so they bought some pigs to drink the buttermilk and whey but the pigs produced lots of muck so they brought a pooh-digester to produce gas for green energy but they got too hot so they built  chicken sheds to heat with all the green energy but the chickens produced loads of guano so they bought a pelleter and sold the guano pellets as fertilizer and used them on the farm to boost production of root crops but the supermarkets wouldn’t buy the misshapen ones so they bought some sheep to eat the swedes and parsnips and mangle-worzels (which they added because they liked the name) but the sheep produced meat and wool (and a lot of gas) and they were left with the sheep-skins so they opened a tannery which needed lots of water so they build a dam which made a big lake and it seemed a shame not to keep some fish so they stocked it with trout and people came to catch the trout and in hot weather they wanted ice cream so they bought an ice cream machine but they didn’t have enough milk so they had to buy another cow…’

We bought two ducks and since last October they have produced 280 eggs which is more than we can eat (we have two hens as well) so we’ve opened a farm-gate shop.

Welsh Eggs


Here it is.



Like all businesses it has to be promoted.

Rustic slate signs — farmers in Wales use anything that is available.

Our friends down the lane did the same with their hen’s eggs and business is so good and demand so great that they have already had to buy more chickens.

We sold our first six eggs yesterday and within an hour we had a telephone call (our egg-boxes carry all the require traceability information) from the purchaser wishing to bestow unsolicited praise upon our product!

We fear this may be the start of Puddle-duck Investments — a global agri-industry (see above – farmer’s tale).

animal psychology, Hill Farming, Lambing

Snatched within minutes of birth!

What a tragedy when a baby is taken from its mother…  But spare a thought for the perpetrator — sometimes they are victims too!

Two new lambs are born before dawn, they are lying with their new mother under the hedge — both healthy.  Above the hedge I spot another ewe so, before marking the new lambs, I go to check the other ewe.  She is licking the ground and chewing on membranes in the grass; from her rear dangles other membranes and her large udder is streaked with blood — she has obviously just given birth, but there were no lambs.

I hunt up and down behind the hedge — there is no trace. Several neighbours have been troubled by a predator this year.

Damn!  Damn!  I should have been up earlier — That damned fox has had a new born lamb…

Unless…  Something in the manner of the ewe with the two lambs, below the hedge, had not been quite right — as I approached her she had looked excited, not wary, she had given me that Oh-good-time-for-breakfast-look.  Sheep that have just delivered usually have more on their minds.

I rapidly fashion a pen out of hurdles and lift the new lambs into it then let the new mother in and examine her pristine rear — it is clean and dry, she has stolen these lambs.  More accurately she has kindly fostered them after they rolled through the hedge, probably because of over-enthusiastic cleaning by their old mum.

I return the lambs to number 1 mum who looks doubtful.  She smells the first lamb and nuzzles it but pushes the other gently  away, it rolls through the hole in the hedge and bleats.  Foster mother screams from the pen and tries to jump out, collapsing the whole caboodle.  The lamb rushes to her and suckles.

Plan B — I carry the lamb down the not inconsiderable hill (up and down which I have now been running for some time) The foster ewe follows me complaining and I shut her in a more substantial pen, then re-patriate the lamb, which is surprisingly vigorous, with its real mother.  ‘Not mine!’ says the real mother and knocks it over.

‘Yes, it is.’

‘No it isn’t  — look!’ she’s pushed it through the hedge and it’s running amok, bleating and several of the other ewes are coming up to investigate, including Number 19 who was involved in a custody battle a couple of years ago.

‘I think it might be mine,’ says Number 19,’ I do vaguely remember giving birth,’ she sniffs it, ‘Yes! It’s definitely mine!’

That’s it!  I’ve had enough — I bundle the troublesome lamb over the fence, reunite it with it’s real mother and sister and then we painstakingly  walk them, with much arguing and to-ing and fro-ing, the long way round to the barn where I shut up mother and both lambs in a small pen.

After such a long and tiresome walk so soon after giving birth on the frosty hillside where it is now raining, the sight of a warm, dry pen and a bucket of feed persuades the mother to concede, ‘Alright they both might be mine, but I still don’t like the look of that big one very much!’

She has now fed both lambs and Alan has bought me a cup of coffee, but still the cries of injustice from the kind, obliging foster mum can be heard — I hope she has her own lambs soon.

And to reassure any farmers reading this, just to be absolutely sure, I go and find the placentas and they were both above the hedge.


The following morning things are not looking good.  The mother is butting the larger lamb who is starting to look wary of her.

‘Smell her,’ says the mother, she’s not mine!’

I sniff  her — she smell terrible, like a dog that’s rolled in rotting fox-pooh.  I sniff the little one — she smell all lamby and nice.

So, while waiting for a friend to bring us a lamb-adopter, I wash the offensive creature with clean warm water — she doesn’t like it much, then I dry her with kitchen towel and finish her off with her sister’s woolly back, then we exercise the human lamb-adopter who has come to investigate — he holds the ewe and the big hungry lamb has a feed and we squirt her with milk.  The mother is sniffing them both now and looking confused — hopefully she can’t count.  We withdraw and hope for the best.

Hill Farming, Humour

Nature’s scam

Don’t be taken in – it’s a scam – Mother Nature’s attempt at PR!

Daffodils have absolutely nothing to do with the Spring –

they are harbingers of disappointment – raisers of false hope!

At least, that’s what they are in Wales.


They have been out for two weeks and our hill is overflowing –

not with the sound of lambs and birdsong –

but with gurgling springs – excess ground-water spewing out of rabbit holes –

and the baas of disgruntled sheep, pained by the muscular effort of holding back the inevitable.


They watch the weather forecast on the wide screen telly, through the picture window,

but anyway they know about these things and no one wants to drop a new born babe –

plop, into a puddle – so they are holding on until there’s a break in the cloud.

And meanwhile they blame me, and by the way, this hay is damp.


Our single antediluvian lamb is chasing chickens now.

Ducks, Splish and Splosh (named Flip and Flop in dryer times) look on and say,

‘Well what do you expect – laying lamb-shaped, wooly eggs that are not waterproof!  This mud is delicious,’ and off they dibble-dabble.

Hill Farming, Lambing

05/04/16 — 04/04/17

New Finelambcial Year —


Beginning of our farming year.

Yesterday our first lamb arrived — not under the hedge where all self-respecting Welsh Mountain lambs are supposed to disembark but in the back of our nice dry barn into which her mum had sneaked before dawn and where I nearly fell over them when, just as the first birds were waking, I went in to fill the hay cratch.  You see — the God of the incompetent-elderly over-reacted to our recent pyro maniacal episode by damping everything down with unnecessary thoroughness so that we are now back in our quagmire.

First steps

Undaunted (sheep hate being on their own) and as soon as I had re-organised everything to provide a lamb-friendly, hazard-free environment  with fresh Lenor straw, buckets of water and concentrate in her own private accommodation, this young mother took her lamb out into the rain and tentatively tippy-toed through the  mud that surrounds the barn to show her off to the other ewes, now shut for safety’s sake on the other side of the fence. As it was several ran up to the fence baaing ‘Is that my lamb?’


Now we wait for a play-mate.