A Race Against Time on the Farm

Posted on March 17th, 2014

New life waits for no one

Last week I detailed our farm news, how we were looking to rebuild a shelter to move Rolo and the two new donkeys in together, to bring the sheep over the road into the current pony and donkey field and to move the ponies to where the sheep had come from. The plan was a good one apart from the urgency to move the sheep versus the ability to finish the Donkey field shelter in time. By the end of the weekend The field shelter had the base complete, the old blown over main section dragged across and righted but by Tuesday it still needed a row of bricks and lifting before it was finally ready to use. The children and Nick did a wonderful job getting this far.

However by Tuesday morning we decided that with after school parents evenings looming on top of regular school clubs, the shelter wouldn’t be finished till next weekend despite the welcome lighter evenings. This was too long to wait for the sheep that were looking perilously close to lambing.

Shhp looking ready to lamb


Nick and I agreed we would have to move the sheep ourselves while the children were at school. The guests helped Nick feed and capture them within a corral on the morning tractor run.


Morning helpers


Then he and I returned with the stock trailer to demonstrate our great shepherding skills; perhaps not a textbook farming manoeuver but we managed it without too much distress for the sheep and over the road they travelled, not into the pony field but a newly created hybrid field next door thanks to Nick’s foresight and re-fencing back in January. It now means that every gate needs closing on the farm with all the fields in use.


Farmer Nick sheep herding


Whether it was the bumpy ride along our farm paths or our gut instinct was right we will never know, but that night our first twin lambs were born. Two beautiful baby girls to the delight of our guests.

Coombe Mill Jacobs Lambs just a few hours old


The Wednesday morning feed run was a long one with lambs to deal with. The two little boys we had staying were fascinated and I had a very funny conversation with the eldest worthy of retelling:

“What is Farmer Nick doing?”

“He needs to put some special ear rings on the new lambs”

“My Mummy wears earrings when she goes out in the evening”

“Yes I do that too, I wonder if the lambs will like theirs?”

“They are very big and yellow”

I expect Mummy has prettier ones

“Ouch” Farmer Nick inserts the ear tag

“Does Farmer Nick put your earrings in too?”

Wot So Funee?


Lambs being tagged, dipped & tail bands applied


Our work was still far from finished. The Shetland ponies now needed leading across the road into the sheep field. This did go to plan as they were on best behaviour even crossing the ford.  I was tempted to let our little helpers have a ride they were so good, I think they knew were leaving their muddy winter field for something new.


Skippy & Dinky on the move


There was one final change to make. The pony field really needed a rest and so we led Rolo in with the castrated ram lambs from last season. The lambs were subsequently wormed and moved on again.  

A surprise ahead for Rolo the donkey

Then to see if we could put a head collar on our eight month old newbies Winston and Clementine. We managed to fit them of sorts, though they were really too big, but since they had not yet been trained to a head collar leading them was fun and games, especially as I insisted on trying to take a photo whilst hanging onto the lead reign, thank goodness for auto option, this was no time to be playing with manual modes one handed!

Rolo meets Winston & Clementine


They were so good natured and never kicked out once despite being quite terrified of what might lie beyond Nick’s shed door. So long as they were right next to each other we managed to coax them forwards and along the farm path towards an eagerly awaiting Rolo. Seeing them together in the morning sunshine was a total delight. I think they are going to be best of friends.

Rolo. Winston & Clementine our Donkey Trio


Meanwhile Nick was busy flattening and reseeding the old pony field, I wonder who he is planning to have in here next? 


Seeding & Flattening the old pony field


By the weekend our children were keen to help out and show the new guests the baby lambs and new donkeys. We laid the first layer of bricks for the field shelter but it will be next weekend before we are ready to move the donkey trio next door into the field purpose built for them. Life is all go on the farm right now but I couldn’t be happier than seeing the animals thriving in the March sunshine, my own children helping out and the guests enjoying all we have to offer here on holiday.


Little helpers on the farm