The Life on the Farm column with Frances Graham

The past week has been extremely hectic. All the ewes are now on the stubble turnips and are making a small impression on them. We have all of our Dalesbred ewes on them. I don’t think we have ever had all of them together at once so this year is definitely different.

Friday, 25th January 2019, 8:51 am
We have been scanning our ewes to see how many lambs are on the way.

It felt a bit odd the other day when it snowed at home and we only had a few tups to feed up at home, and nothing else.

Normally, when they have been at home and it has snowed we can spend a fair bit of the day feeding up. This time we were finished in no time at all. Just looking around the sheep that are away takes time, but not having to supplementary feed them is a big money saver.

Last Wednesday afternoon we scanned our Masham ewes. They have to be starved beforehand so they are easier to scan.

If they are full with food they are harder to scan and the lambs are far harder to see.

Due to this, my Grandad and I went down the day before to put them into a different field which had a bit less grass than the one they were in, but we decided the next morning to put them in a pen because there was that much grass around.

We decided to check a few of the ewes’ feet in the morning before we scanned the sheep. It seems to be an endless task at the moment, but we are getting there.

My Dad seems to think that I like doing their feet, but I wouldn’t say that.

We ran the sheep through our mobile sheep handling system to scan. We hadn’t done this before because normally we are at home so we would use the sheep pens, but it worked better than the pens.

Once a few ewes went the rest followed, making our lives easier because normally we would be pushing them up to go into the scanning crate. I don’t know what we would have done if we hadn’t bought it – it’s the best thing we have purchased yet.

Sheep want to run through it, unlike static sheep pens when they are just stubborn, because they know what is going to happen and can’t always see a way out.

The ewes scanned well at 210%.

We have two quads and 62 triplets, so probably lots of mothering on to do, but we only had 33 singles scanned.

We might buy some more ewes in lamb to mother lambs because we don’t like pet lambs. They do better on a ewe and we are down on numbers because we sold some Masham ewes last year before we got this land at York. All of us are pleased how well they scanned considering the scanning men said that most farms scanning was down from last year.

All we need to do now is get to lambing.

Meanwhile, we have managed to get some fencing done this past week for a customer.

It’s a normal stock fence but we have used creosoted posts instead of tanalised ones because they haven’t been lasting very long.

My Dad was shocked when he went to buy some posts as the prices have gone up dramatically and are going to keep going up.

It’s because it takes longer to sort wood out to make fence posts rather than just send it to a biomass boiler.

Sellers are taking the easier option and making the price go up.

Surely they can’t keep burning all this wood because where is it going to come from in a few years when most of the trees that are planted now are hardwood trees.

They won’t be ready to fell for 110 years, so the available wood will be used up long before then.

Is making electric like this really sustainable when there are dams flowing water which could be used for hydro?