Open farm Sunday and shearing

Emma Heseltine - 16 June 2013

Its open farm Sunday this Sunday and like the Cumberland show it looks like we might have nice weather. The day is glorious and we have lots of activities planned. There will be farm walks, cream teas, and the bee keepers are here with a demonstration hive that we can peer into looking for the queen. There is a pollinator survey and John has brought Mathilda the tractor round with a rake on the back so people can see what sort of machinery is used on the farm. We are also going to shear some sheep. Lots of people come and the field is full of cars and the farm is full of children running about asking useful and not so useful questions. I lead a trip to go see the pigs and they are impeccably behaved (they don’t bite anyone). They snuffle people, manage not to knock over any children and succumb to the joys of having an adoring crowd tickle you behind the ears. Soon there is a pile of blissed out pigs snoozing in the sunshine and some happy visitors who now know more than they ever wanted to about rare breed outdoor pigs. Brownie does try and eat one guy’s carrier bag and one of the girls wipes her muddy nose on a lady’s cream trousers, but all in all a success. By seven o'clock we are all tired but I think all the visitors have had a good day, I certainly have.

Its time to get the ewes clipped. The sun has been shining and our sheep are getting warm in their woolly jumpers so its time to get them taken off. The ewes are at two locations so we do them in batches. The ones at Aglionby are first and we seem to fire through them in no time. Each sheep is different and some are keener on the shearing than others. It isn’t an easy job shearing as there are many corners to negotiate and often the customer is wriggly. Some of the sheep love it though; it must be like a massage. Those that have wriggled and got nicked before are more likely to be nicked again. On Friday we have a go at the ones at Wallacefield. Just in time the sheep are got in, the heavens open. You can’t shear wet sheep. There are a few more shearlings in this group, they have only been sheared once before and can get a bit jumpy. A couple of them seem to love it though. Two of the ewes have pretty much shed their wool anyway so just need a trim around the edges, which makes life a bit easier!

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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