There can be no better way to get a taste of the countryside than lambing. I first got involved with lambing at 13, despite not being from a farming background, and I’m now 19 with my own flock of 15 breeding ewes. I think you could say I got the bug! Over time, lambing has taught me so much more than just the physical act of lambing a ewe. It has taught me confidence in myself, you need to believe that what you’re doing is correct when trying to lamb a ewe, or you’ll stall and lose precious time in getting the lamb out. It has taught me patience, those bottle fed lambs had to be taught how to suck on the teat, not always an easy process! It’s taught me the meaning of ‘work ethic’. Ewes don’t stop lambing because it’s gone dark, you have to be on the go pretty much 24/7 when it’s lambing time. If you’re not actively lambing ewes then you’re feeding, bedding up, bottling lambs, turning ewes and lambs out to pasture. It’s non-stop action. Lambing has also taught me inner strength and determination. You have to dig deep, there’s always that point where you’re tired, you’re hungry, your face is stinging with cold, you can see a ewe struggling out the corner of your eye and you just can’t get this lamb into the correct position inside the ewe. There’s been times when I’ve put my head onto the side of the ewe and just taken a few breaths, gathering that strength I need to continue working to try and get the lamb out. It is hard work, but more than anything, lambing has taught me that my passion lies in agriculture and maintaining a relationship with the countryside.
I don’t personally believe you could experience a better taste of the countryside than a season lambing (but I might be biased!). Lambing encompasses all that farming and the countryside is about. You’ll see life, you’ll see death, and everything in between. Experiencing the high of finally turning out that lamb that you thought might not make it, and watching it charging around the field, is something not to be missed. Lambing is an excellent way for both young and old to get involved in the British countryside and farming. It is what you make of it, if you want a challenge I’d suggest searching the NSA website for a lambing placement (1,500 Suffolks lambing outside should do it!). If you want something a little less intense, take the opportunity to attend an Open Farm Sunday event near you. These are a great chance to see first-hand what the lambing sheds are really like, a brilliant way to ease you into the idea of lambing a ewe!
Whilst lambing and sheep play an important part in my life, they are not all that the countryside has to offer. There are other aspects of farming, so important in shaping the countryside that we know and love, that all offer great experiences for any person willing to give them a try, even if just for a short term holiday position. Dairy, beef cattle, arable, and game keeping all allow the individual to experience a taste of the countryside they may not have considered. If farming isn’t your thing, country shows are another great opportunity to experience the atmosphere of the countryside. They offer a comprehensive glimpse into all that goes on in rural areas, from farming, to shooting, to hunting, even extending into falconry, and Pony Clubs.