New calf, bringing the ewes home and feeding the pigs...

Emma Heseltine - 10 March 2013

This week Ellis decides to join Croft and has her calf on Tuesday morning. It’s another bull calf and even more strapping than Lawrence! They are moved up to the field next to the orchard and my newly ensconced pigs. Ellis apparently does not like pigs and has taken a particular dislike to mine, huffing and mooing at them. I’m not sure what they have done to offend her as they are being remarkably good considering what pigs can be like. They are roaming the veg patch as a pack and doing an awful lot of sleeping in a piggy pile, they are somewhat more vocal than my last lot, perhaps that is what has annoyed her. They will have to learn to get on, the pigs are staying.

Lawrence needs his ear tags and it important that we have some kind of barrier between us and Croft when we do this. We trick her into the paddock with the promise of food and manage to grab the calf on the other side of the gate. These calves are very strong, especially the bull calves, if he were more than a few days old I would have trouble holding on to him. The trick is to halter him to the gate and then hang on tight whilst Susan gives him his tags. It’s not too bad and I think he objects to the halter more than the earrings. Best not rip them out lad, and then we don’t have to repeat the process.

This week we are bringing all the ewes back to Houghton, its almost lambing time. This is a major operation as they are all enormously fat and in lamb so we don’t want to jostle them too much. We bring six back early in the week, a couple of them are suffering from twin lamb disease and need a little extra food and TLC. They might be carrying triplets so are using up much more energy than the other ewes. This means that there are three loads of sheep to bring back on Thursday. We get them all in and after that it’s a day of driving backward and forward, loading and unloading. Each time we bring a load and take them into the field the ewes already there come running over baaing. There is obviously much to discuss, sheep are terrible gossips.

Now that there are a great assortment of creatures in the paddock/orchard/big Houghton field area feeding has got a bit more interesting. When I come to feed the pigs on a morning, with my trusty bucket, the lambs next to the education room complain at me, why isn’t that for us? The two cows with their calves come wandering over to get their breakfast when I get to their field; they voice their disappointed when I skirt round them to the orchard and chase me to the gate. Next field over all the ewes come running and baaing to the fence to see if its time for some lovely grain, sorry sheep this is not for you. And the pigs whose lovely food I have brought? Fast asleep in their hut. 

Emma completed a degree in Creative Imaging at Huddersfield University before working for a photography studio as an editor. Taking a break from the office world she worked in outdoor education for several years, climbing, abseiling, shooting, trampolining and even life-guarding with children of all ages. When Emma found out about the apprenticeship scheme with the Soil Association it seemed the perfect chance to do something worthwhile and fulfilling. After much searching and badgering farms in the North of England she found a position with Hadrian Organics and started in July 2011. So far it is living up to her expectations, every day is a new challenge and every day is different.

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