EWE’LL LOVE IT!
FIND OUT HOW THE SPRING LAMBS ARE DOING
Eventually the warmer spring weather is starting to show its face, and for farmers lambing season is coming to an end. Reporter POPPY KENNEDY and photographer RICHARD PONTER headed down to Humble Bee Farm, near Flixton, to see how the newborn lambs are getting on.
J ust 30 minutes before we arrived on the visitor-friendly farm, a calf was born showing that the new life the season brings is truly upon us.
Humble Bee’s owner and only farmer John Percy Warters, also known as Farmer Percy, has been keeping a watchful eye on more than 80 sheep which have so far given birth to 120 lambs.
The farm has also welcomed around 30 calves, with one being born just 30 minutes before we arrived at the farm on Good Friday.
“I am very much hands on at the times of the births,” said John.
“I get the local vets to come out. In fact, we had a problem yesterday with the calving so we got the local vets Cundall & Duffy to come out and give me a hand and everything went absolutely fine.”
He described caring for more than 100 lambs as like working on a maternity ward.
John explains: “We can normally plan to around two or three days when a lamb is likely to be born.
“They get on with it themselves, but there’s a lot of them where they need some assistance.
“Sometimes they come with a leg back or a head back but this time, touch wood, they’ve done really well.”
In just one day this lambing season, 15 newborns were welcomed into the world – so it’s no easy task for the family-run farm.
Dedicated John works seven days a week, ten hours a day starting his day before many have begun to stir in bed.
“I love it, I wouldn’t do anything else,” says John with a huge, genuine smile plastered across his face.
“I don’t really want anyone else helping. My son helps out and it’s a family business with everyone looking after different parts.”
Having supervised the births of more than 100 sheep, John knows exactly how to deal with difficult births and make sure mother and child bond.
He said: “If you get a problem with one lambing you keep an eye on them for a day or two.
“You put them in a pen to mother up so they must be mothered up with the lambs – sheep can get mixed up.
“Some ewes like to try and pinch other lambs so they can soon get mixed up. They’re all in individual pens to start with for three days.
“It’s almost like a maternity ward at a hospital, it’s just the same sort of thing,
“You put them in and you feed them, make sure the udders are right, make sure the lambs are clean and the navels are iodined – things like that.
“Then they’re turned out of the hospital bed into the pens.”
Visitors are able to see the births first-hand and guests staying at the farm have the best chance of seeing new life coming into the world.
“We open the doors to the campsite for lambing time so basically we’re full every weekend through March,” says John as he tends to the herd. “Every wigwam and cottage and yurt is full because it’s lambing time – it’s a big hit.
“Even the weather has been against us this year but the people have come and enjoyed it.
“If there’s one lambing, I’ll just say to guests ‘does
‘If you get a problem with one lambing you keep an eye on them for a day or two. You put them in a pen to mother up so they must be mothered up with the lambs sheep can easily get mixed up. ‘
anyone want to lamb this ewe?’
And they’ll put their hand up and come down and lamb the ewe and they think it’s amazing – it’s made their day.”
The lambs are released with their mothers out into the open fields on the 320-acre farm before they are sold when they reach between 16 and 20 weeks.
“We have 80 breeding Texel ewes so we produce about 120 lambs which we aim to sell at local livestock markets going to the local butchers.
”Last year we got the championship for our spring lambs at Malton Market and they were sold to B.W & D.J Glaves at Brompton.”
The farm hosts a variety of activities throughout the year like their 25 trails which take place through the summer looking at the wildlife such as barn owls and bats.
John and his family are hosting an open day with everything from sheep shearing to bouncy castles on Sunday June 24.
For more information about the farm visit www. humblebeefarm.co.uk
Farmer John Warters with his lambs and sheep at the farm . Picture Richard Ponter 181255b