Featured in The Countryman Magazine

A few weeks ago, Mark Whitley, editor of The Countryman magazine, approached me to write a column about lambing, for the magazine's "Down on the Farm" column. The March issue is out now and we are in it! 

The Countryman magazine March issue features Joanna Thompson

As printed in the March 2018 issue of The Countryman magazine

Our regular column celebrating the vibrancy of UK farming features Joanna Thompson of Hare Farm Hideaways, who works with her brother Stuart on the family farm in the Brede Valley near Rye, Sussex

Springing into Life 

March. The month when new life emerges with gusto. When one pair of farm hands is multiplied by 5. When all eyes focus on the woolly kind, and when the valley turns green again.

Our sheep flock are largely North Country mules, sourced from Cumbria every September, topped up with some home-grown Suffolk-crosses. 2018 is set to break all records for Hare Farm. The scanning man visited early January and the results were quite extraordinary; overall, the lambing percentage is 206%, that’s an average of over 2 lambs expected per ewe. Even the first-time mothers, the tegs are at 208%. That’s set to make lambing much more fiddly as it’s likely that the teg has the smaller lambs and the bonding troubles. 

That all said, we are ready for the imminent storm to arrive, starting 10th March (timed by the ram’s first foray in October). The lambing team is organised and looking strong. We’ve no novice help this year and that takes some stress away. 

So now to focus on the perfect goal for March, that’s sending 1,000 healthy mothers, each with a bonded pair of lambs out to grass. By our ultra-sound calculations, only 700 of the 1000 flock are set to have twins naturally, so we have our work cut out to intervene and get the fostering just right. 

There’ll be plenty to see for our lambing course students. From aspiring vets to inquisitive vegetarians, they‘ve always been overly thankful for having the opportunity to get up close, have a go, and enter into such a magical spectacle. It makes you remind yourself that, despite the tired limbs and small earnings to be made, working in the lambing sheds in the Spring is a special place to be. 

The Countryman magazine features Hare Farm

The Countryman is one of the oldest, most respected countryside magazines in the world. The monthly title and is read by those who share its concerns for the countryside, the people who live and work in it, and its wildlife. The Countryman focuses on the rural issues of today and tomorrow, as well as including features on the people, places, history and wildlife that make the British countryside so special.


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