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Signs of Spring

As I write this article, the sun is shining, and the

Mistle Thrush is singing, the daffodils are poking through, the fields which were sodden a couple of weeks ago are drying up and I've even heard a Skylark singing briefly. Promising signs of spring being nearly upon us? It's still a bit early to get carried away up here!

Spring has sprung in the cattle shed with the safe arrival of four calves within the past four days. Two bulls and two heifer calves. These calves are a new generation out of our new bull called Top gun. So far, we are very pleased with the results and hope for more of the same.

Funnily enough, we’ve noticed over the years that most calves are born in the evening or early in the morning. However, a lot of the beneficiaries and staff were treated to an unforgettable experience of a calf being born in the afternoon. It was great that so many people got to witness quite a rare occasion. Most had never seen a calf being born before.

Outside of the calving shed, we are still very much in our winter routines with our sheep which we have recently had scanned. 18 singles, 21 twins and 4 triplets. We get them scanned so we can manage them accordingly to how many lambs they are going to have. Singles only require hay. Ewes carrying twins and triplets require extra energy and protein to ensure they are in the best condition pre-lambing so that strong lambs are born and they have enough reserves to feed them well.

The winter months are about ensuring the ewes maintain good body condition. All the sheep stay outside over wintertime until a week or so pre-lambing. We do a daily trundle around with bales of hay as there’s not much grass in the fields at this time of year.

We grade the ewes every fortnight over winter. This means getting them into the pens and feeling the back of every ewe. A sheep's fleece does an amazing job of keeping it warm during the winter. But it can also hide if the sheep is losing weight, which is why we need to physically handle them regularly. If any are losing weight then we can identify them and separate them, putting them on the best grass and giving them a high-energy feed to boost them back up.

All the cattle are inside over winter and part of our daily routine is feeding cattle in the barn and sweeping and mucking out, creating a nice rhythm to the day which the beneficiaries enjoy.

Please pray for the Agriculture team, that they will be sustained and encouraged throughout the winter months. Pray particularly that all will be kept safe throughout the calving season and that the lambing will go really well when it starts in the next few weeks.

Steve Charlesworth.


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