Smallholders Insurance from Greenlands

Author Topic: Terrible start to lambing season.. is it all worth it  (Read 876 times)

Barelygettingby

  • Joined Jan 2023
Terrible start to lambing season.. is it all worth it
« on: January 30, 2023, 05:53:47 pm »
Hi all.. this is my first post in 7 years of being an accidental smallholder and I just need a bit of advice or a pep talk as I sit crying in the lambing shed.

My tup got in with the ewes early this year and so instead of lambing in March Iím lambing in January in the west coast of Scotland.

I have 16 ewes, of the 5 ewes already lambed I have had 1 failed to thrive, one still born, 2 suffocated in their sacks and another not 30 minutes ago from hypothermia/hunger? From a ewe with more milk than you can shake a stick at. 3 live lambs out of 9. Thereís a ewe looking like sheís developing mastitis and another with a prolapse spoon in.

With another 11 to go I canít help but feel incredibly deflated and heart broken for the ewes and lambs and have begun to wonder if this is a sign from the farming gods above that this isnít the path for me as much as I absolutely want it to be..

Has anyone else experienced this? Am I a terrible farmer?

Womble

  • Joined Mar 2009
  • Stirlingshire, Central Scotland
Re: Terrible start to lambing season.. is it all worth it
« Reply #1 on: January 31, 2023, 07:05:58 am »
> Has anyone else experienced this?


Yes.


> Am I a terrible farmer?

No.
"All fungi are edible. Some fungi are only edible once." -Terry Pratchett

Womble

  • Joined Mar 2009
  • Stirlingshire, Central Scotland
Re: Terrible start to lambing season.. is it all worth it
« Reply #2 on: January 31, 2023, 07:19:02 am »
Hang in there. It will get better. Sometimes you can save the lamb / ewe and sometimes you can't. All you can do is your best, then rejoice in the successes and try to learn from the failures. But sometimes there really is no reason, and it doesn't help to beat yourself up about it.

I'll spare you the gory details, but when our first home-bred ewe came to lamb, I ended up having to shoot her. On my own. At 3am. I came back inside the house, poured a large whisky, and cried buckets because I suddenly realised that I'd seen all of the good stuff now, and anything new from then on was going to be bad news. The reality is that there's always a mix of good and bad every year (in varying proportions), and you just have to celebrate your successes and roll with the punches when they come.

Keep going! You'll get there, I promise  :bouquet: .
"All fungi are edible. Some fungi are only edible once." -Terry Pratchett

Rosemary

  • Joined Oct 2007
  • Barry, Angus, Scotland
    • The Accidental Smallholder
Re: Terrible start to lambing season.. is it all worth it
« Reply #3 on: January 31, 2023, 07:55:55 am »
I have found the farming gods to be capricious. Like the old gods of Greece and the Norse, they like to play with us mere humans.

Lambing in January was never going to be the best start but that's not going to happen again. I remember @SallyintNorth saying that the problems usually come at the beginning of lambing - so hang in there. All you can do is learn; no-one's born knowing this stuff. You learn more form things going wrong than from things going right.
Little comfort when you're in the shed greetin' your beads out, but it will get better.

SallyintNorth

  • Joined Feb 2011
  • Cornwall
  • Rarely short of an opinion but I mean well
    • Trelay Cohousing Community
Re: Terrible start to lambing season.. is it all worth it
« Reply #4 on: January 31, 2023, 09:07:42 am »
> Has anyone else experienced this?


Yes.


> Am I a terrible farmer?

No.

^this

Yes we have absolutely all been there.  (And if you are reading this and thinking, "Well, I haven't.", then you are either still pretty new at it all or have been incredibly lucky - and in either case, thank your lucky stars and know that your turn will come.)

Yes, as Rosemary says, an old farming saying is that you get most of your problems at the beginning or at the end, and if you search the forum you will find at least one "disastrous start to lambing" post for every year - and that things usually settle down eventually and the lambings that started badly end with better news.  So hang in there, and come and share your heartache here whenever you need.  (And the good news too!)
Don't listen to the money men - they know the price of everything and the value of nothing

Live in a cohousing community with small farm for our own use.  Dairy cows (rearing their own calves for beef), pigs, sheep for meat and fleece, ducks and hens for eggs, veg and fruit growing

Anke

  • Joined Dec 2009
  • St Boswells, Scottish Borders
Re: Terrible start to lambing season.. is it all worth it
« Reply #5 on: January 31, 2023, 09:12:29 am »
January is not any sheep's natural time to lamb on the west coast of Scotland, but you don't say what breed the ewes/tup are.


And yes, we have ALL been there and will be again. You will be able to get through this horrible lambing season, and once you are through, sit down and write it all up - what went badly, what went well, what did you manage to save despite the odds being against it, what was the worst of it. Then leave it in a drawer for a few weeks, go back to it and plan for next year. It will be better - because you will make changes! You might reduce the number of ewes, change the layout of your field so tup is further away, get a different breed of sheep etc etc.


I personally wouldn't recommend the whisky at 3am though, but that's just me. Chocolate is much more my thing... or taking the dog out for a walk (even at 3am).

twizzel

  • Joined Apr 2012
Re: Terrible start to lambing season.. is it all worth it
« Reply #6 on: January 31, 2023, 10:01:45 am »
As above. Anyone who says they donít have problems and death is lying. You canít be there all the time and can only do what you can do. Donít beat yourself up about it, have a good nights sleep and tomorrows a new day.


I say all thatÖ I still beat myself up about losses, I think most farmers do. But you have to get up, learn from mistakes and focus on the animals that are living.

Rosemary

  • Joined Oct 2007
  • Barry, Angus, Scotland
    • The Accidental Smallholder
Re: Terrible start to lambing season.. is it all worth it
« Reply #7 on: January 31, 2023, 11:06:34 am »
And all of the above is why I still love the TAS forums and why it knocks the socks off social media.  :love: :love: :love:

cas

  • Joined Jul 2013
Re: Terrible start to lambing season.. is it all worth it
« Reply #8 on: January 31, 2023, 11:11:59 am »
It's just like having a baby  -  in the midst of labour you are shouting 'never again' but you soon forget how awful it was and two years later are back in the same position!

Lambing last year was awful for me, so I feel your pain.  I had fewer lambs, tiny lambs, dead lambs and when you only have 7 ewes lambing each loss is very noticeable.  Then just when I thought things were looking up, my bottle baby died at 5 weeks and the rest of the lambs got orf.  But I had the ewes tested and there was a reason for the poor lambing (toxo) so I felt a bit better and could take steps to prevent it next time.

Anyway, all I wanted to say was that how you feel is very natural and understandable and I'm sure you'll be back for more next year!

sabrina

  • Joined Nov 2008
Re: Terrible start to lambing season.. is it all worth it
« Reply #9 on: February 07, 2023, 01:54:58 pm »
Think we have all been there at some point. An old farmer once said  to me when you have a small flock more seems to go wrong. My first lambing many years ago now my vet made more money out of me than the sheep were worth. It did get better as I went for older ewes and a smaller tup. It was a painful experience.

Rebecca and Mark

  • Joined Mar 2021
Re: Terrible start to lambing season.. is it all worth it
« Reply #10 on: February 11, 2023, 02:23:58 pm »
i offer this as another conciliatory tale that sometimes these things just happen.

Our next door neighbours are retired full time famers who still keep a dozen sheep for their own pleasure, between the two of them they must have at least 100 years experience of sheep farming, they still have all the kit and experienced younger backs to call on when needed. - the sheep are super hardy welsh mountains who lamb outside but within 6m of the house so help is at hand.

Last lambing season they had a horrendous time of it, almost half their lambs and one ewe. They did say they had a bit too much condition on them, but all that experience came up with the main answer being 'sometime this happens'.

 

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