The 200 acre High House Farm, stunning in its beautiful hillside setting and with Victorian honey stone buildings, has 200 sheep and grows wheat, barley and oil seed rape. Take an entertaining farm tour to meet Mavis the collie, Candy the #fatpony and the friendly sheep including tup, Thrusty Clappernuts! Learn about the land, the past of this historic farm along with the crops and animals that are tended to in this beautiful setting.
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JANUARY - January is the time to start spreading fertiliser and manure in preparation for the silage that will be cut later in the year. A frosty period is very useful because the fields will be firmer, and the tractor won’t sink into the mud. Our flock of sheep are fed daily and will be scanned to see how many lambs they’re carrying. They are fed hay if the conditions are frosty or snowy. It’s also a time for general farm maintenance, which might include repairs, painting, cleaning, and ensuring that machinery works as it should.
FEBRUARY - The sheep are all being fed twice a day and we now have the ewes expecting twins and triplets housed in our shed to keep them warm and out of the cold weather. We are getting ready for lambing, clearing out the sheds and stables and finishing off any ploughing or drilling.
MARCH - The pregnant ewes are beginning to get very large, so the ewes carrying singles are now brought into the lambing shed. Our ewes have been sorted into lambing groups, based on the number of lambs expected. They will be vaccinated, and their feet are trimmed to guard against foot rot.
APRIL - We start lambing around the 3rd of April. This is a very busy month as we check the ewes every 2 hours morning and night. Luckily, we have CCTV in the lambing shed. The main lambing finishes around the end of April, and by then you should see mothers and lambs out in the fields, if the weather is warm. We usually have around 30 pet lambs that need hourly checks and feeding. April sees fertiliser being spread on grazing fields to aid spring growth, which will be cut for hay and silage later in the year. Wheat and barley are planted, and drilling starts on oil seed rape.
MAY - In May, the livestock is stopped from grazing the silage fields, and fertiliser is spread to allow six weeks of growth before silaging occurs. The lambs are treated to stop flies laying eggs in the wool and producing maggots that can eventually cause death. The pet lambs are growing bigger and some will be weaned and moved into a different shed.
JUNE - All the pet lambs are weaned and moved onto grass. Sheep shearing is the predominant job that takes place in June. Shearing can cost about £1.00 per sheep and the wool fleeces sell for around £1.20. Through the month the sheep will be drenched to get rid of worms and will have their feet bathed to prevent discomfort and disease. June is an important month for our crops. We will continue silaging and the silage will be used to feed livestock in the winter.
JULY - Apart from the obvious feeding, there isn’t as much to do through July with livestock as there is in other months. Lambs are usually given vaccinations against worms and will continue to be given foot baths and be sheared. The strongest lambs will either be sold at the market or to the local abattoir. There’s plenty to do for arable farming, though. Haymaking and silage collection carries on, with the baling a key component. July tends to be the start of the combine season for cereal crops like barley, so combine harvesters will be a common sight in the fields and on countryside roads.
AUGUST - August is the height of summer, and in the farmyard it’s a continuation from the previous month. Silage is once again a priority and combine harvesters will still be the main tools for crop harvesting. This month is the start of next year’s preparations, though, as ploughing and cultivation begins for the next batch of cereal crop. The lambs born in spring will start to be weaned throughout August and September and will be back out in the fields. They will be grazing on the grass after the silage process finishes.
SEPTEMBER - As the end of summer approaches, harvesting a variety of crops remains a key aspect of the farmyard. Ploughing and general cultivations will restart around this time. This year’s lambs are still in the weaning phase, from their mum’s milk to food, and focus turns to the preparation for sale.
OCTOBER -Ewes will be dipped to avoid infections, and their wool will be clipped around the tail area. The purpose of this is to ready the sheep for mating season. The primary jobs in an arable context are cultivation and the drilling of the winter wheat, in preparation for next year’s crop yield. Hedge cutting is also an important task that begins at around this time of year. We will stop hedge cutting by end of January, as there are likely to be birds in hedgerows.
NOVEMBER - As winter starts to unfold, we start feeding their livestock more, instead of just letting them graze, because at this point the grass will stop growing and will deteriorate in quality. Towards the end of this month the tups are turned out to mate with groups of ewes. November sees a lot of ploughing going on, in preparation for next year’s harvest.
DECEMBER - With temperatures expected to drop ever further as Christmas approaches, we will be busy ploughing the fields. The reduced amount of daylight hours often can make the day shorter and we finish earlier in the day, but in many cases if there is a lot to do, then we will carry on through the evening. Our drystone walls and fences are commonly repaired and built during the winter period.
Click below to book your tour of the farm with Sally Urwin, author of 'Diary of a Pint Sized Farmer: A Year of Keeping Sheep, Raising Kids, and Staying Sane'.
Sally's book is filled with grit and humour, newborn lambs and local characters, it's the perfect book for anyone who has ever wondered what it's like on the other side of the fence.