With the knowledge that storm Ciara was on its way John prepared the barn for all our expectant ewes. Friday was a surprisingly mild, calm day in a ‘lull before the storm’ kind of way, so a perfect day for moving the girls indoors.
For the next month they will be warm and sheltered in the barn until the arrival of the lambs, getting regular feed and under the watchful eye of John. The barn has been colonised by house sparrows which at this time of year gives us our own dawn chorus as they get abruptly woken when the lights go on before dawn.
We lurch from wet boggy fields to crisp frozen mornings at this time of year which is hard on the horses, we keep them in when the land is wet as the fields suffer with such large feet churning them to mud. On the crisp mornings however, the land firms up and the horses are excited to be out. Pushing the gates with their noses as we rug them up, hoping to find the latch off so they can make an early escape.
John takes hay to the fields on the quad bike first so the horses are keen to eat immediately on entering the field, if we didn’t do this the temptation to kick their stir crazy heels would be too great and they would take off bucking, leaping and kicking out and as the ground is icy we take this precaution to avoid calamity.
The cows are loving being inside with the constant supply of haylage and shelter, they unlike the horses seem to have no such regrets at being inside 24/7. The calves are arriving on average one a week at the moment, all bull calves so far, but the law of averages should mean some heifers will come soon, pleasing John as he keeps the girls to add to our herd. The bull calves stay with their mums all summer and then will be sold on in October to other farms.
What I love about this time of year is the anticipation of Spring, new life and the hint of what is to come. The snow drops are out, there are daffodils in the tubs and in a month lambs in the fields, the cycle of life is always evident on a farm.