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  • Writer's pictureVeronica

Lambing season at Caradoc: a photo essay

Updated: Apr 24

A ewe and her young lamb

An automatic light switches on, illuminating the porch as we step out of the house and pull on our wellies and waterproof trousers. The stars are spread out above us as we make the short walk from the house to the barn. In the distance, orbs of light appear – eyes reflecting back the light of my head torch. Even though I know they belong to sheep, the sight of their eyes glowing in the darkness is still eerie. The pet lambs cry out when we enter the barn – it's time for their 1am feed and they're not afraid to remind us. Their bleating is mixed with the occasional, much louder, "baa" from one of the ewes. With the light of our head torches, we scan the barn for new lambs or signs of lambing. Tonight there's nothing. A feeling of disappointment is quickly replaced with relief as I realise it won't be another long night shift. As we stir powdered milk into warm water, the air is filled with a sweet scent that reminds me of powdered cake mix. I resist my curiosity to taste it. Back in the barn, the pet lambs crowd at my feet as I walk over to their bucket. Despite their hunger (and having done this many times before), they still need help finding the teats that are attached to the bottom of the bucket. I miss bottle feeding little Sally, but it makes me happy to watch him feeding on the bucket alongside the other, much bigger, pet lambs. After they've finished eating, we spend a few peaceful minutes cuddling the lambs. Holding Sally close, I can feel his tiny heartbeat through his soft skin. Before leaving, we scan the barn again with our head torches. No signs of lambing. The ewes are calm and the night is quiet as we leave the barn and walk back to the house. I crawl back into bed, the sheets warmed by the hot water bottle I prepared before leaving for the night shift. I quickly fall back asleep, dreams of sheep and lambs not far behind.

 

In early April, I set off on a new adventure – a week volunteering at Caradoc farm in Herefordshire during lambing season. The mixed farm is run by my friend Dreda, who I met while we were studying for our MSc in Food Security and Sustainable Agriculture at the University of Exeter. What an incredible few days! I wish I could write down everything I learnt and all the new sights (and scents) I experienced! I feel very grateful to Alice and Dreda for their patience and honesty in answering my never-ending questions.


Over the week, I helped clean out pens, bottle feed lambs, and wrestle ewes into the trailer so we could move them out into the fields. I even got the opportunity to help a ewe deliver one of her lambs (thank you, Alice!), which was a nerve-racking and exhilarating experience. I learnt how strong sheep are, I learnt why some lambs are born yellow, and I learnt how quickly I get emotionally attached to small, cute animals. I left the farm with an even greater respect for livestock farmers and the physical and mental challenges they are faced with on a daily basis. I was incredibly impressed by both Alice and Dreda, their knoweldge, physical strength, and creativity when solving problems was inspiring. I would very happily spend longer on my next visit to Caradoc, there's still plenty more for me to learn!

Alice, Dreda, and I with three of the pet lambs

I've never done a "photo essay" before, but wanted to give it a go. It feels weird to publish images without accompanying text, but I guess that's the point of a photo essay – the photos are meant to tell a story without the use of text. Let me know if you think I've been successful in that endeavour!


Ewes feeding in the barn

A ewe lies in a pool of light

Lambing

Helping with lambing

A ewe and her new lamb

New lamb feeding

Pitchforks

Feeding the ewes

Pet lamb under a heat lamp

A lamb looks out from behind the bars of her pen


Lambs curled up under a heat lamp

Lamb laying on her mother

Checking on the lambs

Lambs in the nursery pen

Farm dog on a pile of straw


Checking on the ewes and lambs


Ewes and lambs in the field

 

Thank you for reading! I have uploaded many of these images (along with others from my time at Caradoc) onto my Unsplash profile. You can freely download and use these images in reports, presentations, social media, or whatever you're creating!



And I've also made a little video with some clips from my time on the farm!


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