A fortnight ago the first lambs were born on Holker farm. At the moment it’s the youngest sheep, the first time mothers, that are giving birth and this means a higher degree of problems than the more experienced ladies who should start at the end of next week.
It’s a natural part of the cheesemaker and dairy farmer’s year; no young uns, no milk. We tend to consider birth to be an entirely natural part of any animal’s life and especially because we as humans have such ready access to medical advice and support, we forget that it’s a major undertaking. While having lunch up at the farmhouse, I saw Nicola’s notes for the first 2 weeks. The numbers of stillborn lambs to live lambs were pretty much neck and neck and where the lambs were born successfully, the inexperienced mothers didn’t know what to do with them and she’d made notes to bottle feed most of them.
Last April I moved from a life in the bustling capital of the UK, London, to a windswept and rain-lashed hilltop just outside Ulverston in the Southern Lake District in England’s North West. I now make cheese with Martin Gott and Nicola Robinson at Holker Farm, just outside the village of Cartmel. They have a flock of Lacaune sheep and a few Dairy Shorthorn cows, with what must be the only cow/sheep milking parlour in the country.