Even though the lambing season is the busiest time of the year for a Manx sheep farmer, one farm in Jurby has once again opened its doors so that the public can come along and watch.
Lambing Live, hosted by shepherd Paul Fletcher at Ballig Farm, Jurby East, welcomed groups of parents and children over the half term break.
During the visits, he invited the groups to get stuck in with the tasks of feeding and caring for new born lambs, while explaining the whole lambing process, from caring for pregnant ewes through to releasing a whole new flock out into the fields.
The added thrill comes with the possibility that a sheep may give birth to a lamb in front of a group, providing an unforgettable experience for young and old alike.
‘We had a lamb born this morning,’ said Paul, explaining the Lambing Live event. ‘And I’m going to take the group over there in a minute to talk about the lambing experience.
‘There are also a couple of mothers who are showing signs, and maybe they will give birth later on this afternoon.
‘What we tend to do is give them a bit of peace and quiet, and take the group around the farm, and then come back into the shed later to see if anything has happened. There are two lambs on the bottle, so we’ll come and top them up. We’ll also go out into the fields to see the mothers and lambs that are already out.’
Stood in a holding pen of around 20 pregnant ewes, Paul explained how to spot the signs of a mother in labour and how their bodies change as the lambs prepare to be born. He then, in fairly unflinching detail, described the birthing process, and what farmers can do to intervene when problems arise.
While it is obviously a bit of a lottery as to when the lambs are born, some groups were lucky enough to witness an actual birth.
Tuesday witnessed a spate of births in the morning, meaning the group that were there in the afternoon were able to help tend to lambs only a couple of hours old.
However, Thursday’s group had just got going when a lamb was born almost perfectly on show. Some children were also able to bottle feed one or two of the meg lambs, whilst older children were able to help out with tagging lambs and feeding the older sheep.
‘It’s not just the children who like to get up close and personal with the sheep,’ revealed Paul.
‘The adults like it too, and they just want to be close to the animals too.
‘Everybody is young at heart and wants to be close to the animals, just the same as the children.’