A fortnight ago the first lambs were born on Holker farm. At the moment it’s the youngest sheep, the first time mothers, that are giving birth and this means a higher degree of problems than the more experienced ladies who should start at the end of next week. It’s a natural part of the cheesemaker and dairy farmer’s year; no young uns, no milk. We tend to consider birth to be an entirely natural part of any animal’s life and especially because we as humans have such ready access to medical advice and support, we forget that it’s a major undertaking. While having lunch up at the farmhouse, I saw Nicola’s notes for the first 2 weeks.
Last April I moved from a life in the bustling capital of the UK, London, to a windswept and rain-lashed hilltop just outside Ulverston in the Southern Lake District in England’s North West. I now make cheese with Martin Gott and Nicola Robinson at Holker Farm, just outside the village of Cartmel. They have a flock of Lacaune sheep and a few Dairy Shorthorn cows, with what must be the only cow/sheep milking parlour in the country. At this time of year, it’s the end of the sheeps milk season. They started to give milk shortly after lambing as early as February and as more and more of the flock gave birth, the milk quantity increased until it reached its peak in June. Since then, they began to give less milk as the ones that had lambed early started to slow down on the milk production and the others followed suit.