|Part of the Boon Crag flock, with Holme Fell in the background|
|Fell breeds are particularly nimble and hardy; the grass is always greener on the other side!|
Each tup is fitted with a ‘raddle’, which is comprised of a strap that holds a block of paint on the chest of the tup. During the act, this colour is transferred to the ewes back. Sheep are in season for a 17 day cycle, and the colour of the raddle is changed for every cycle, starting lighter and getting progressively darker, for example yellow, red then blue. Not only does the changing of the colour enable the farmer to predict the lambing date, but also to check that the tup is working correctly and to check that the ewe is cycling. All being well 152 days later little black lambs will start to appear in the fields!
Beatrix Potter played a pivotal role in ensuring the survival of the Herdwick breed by buying farms and bequeathing them to the National Trust. Here at the South Lakes property she left 14 farms, some of which I am fortunate enough to spend most of my days on fixing, building and carrying out conservation tasks. I have now been living in the Lake District for just over a year and during that time I have only began to scratch the surface when it comes to learning about fell farming; and I have only imparted a small part of my limited knowledge in the blog! Lambing is but one aspect of the fell farming year, let alone tupping, clipping, hay making, the relationship with sheep dogs and the myriad of other tasks that a farmer carries out to care for his stock. If you find fell farming as interesting as I do then come along to Wray Castle on the 2nd and 4th of June to meet one of our tenant farmers and some of his stock; he’ll be there to answer all your questions!