Saturday, 22 June 2019

Twins, Herdies and Pet Lambs

We may have finished lambing weeks ago but there's still daily checking and looking after required.

Ewes with twins in our low fields get sugar beet every day and are counted to make sure none are missing or ailing.

My herdy lambs are in the low fields and like the Swaledale lambs are beginning to eat cake too.

 However unlike the Swaledale lambs who hardly alter in appearance, the herdwick lambs change very quickly and develop a white mask-like face and grey legs.  Marco is changing faster than the gimmer twins who are still quite black except for their white tipped ears!

Pet lambs are part and parcel of lambing time and are a great source of delight to friends who like to come and bottle feed them.

Not all sheep are able to rear their lambs particularly if they have twins. Occasionally we have to take one away and it becomes a 'pet lamb'. Similarly not all lambs survive either.  When this happens we quickly 'mother on' a pet lambs so that the ewe has a lamb to raise.  This year however we have been left with three pet lambs that didn't get a mother.  I have called them the Three Musketeers!

Today, as the sun shone warm and bright, we put them in the little field by the house.  They have a lean-to shed where they can shelter and they will get milk and lamb pellets to supplement all that beautiful meadow grass!  I have reared pet lambs before (they were the Three Amigos) and they get up to all sorts of mischief.  Why?  No mum to keep them in order.  Watch this space!

Tuesday, 4 June 2019

Ruins, remains and all things abandoned

Coming to walk in Swaledale?  Coming for the scenery, the wildlife and the meadows?
Its all here in abundance and you won't be disappointed however what's been left here from a time when life in the dale was very different to how it is today? When life was hard, when it was a struggle.  When work was dangerous and dark and difficult with little reward.

The legacy of the lead mining industry at Swinner Gill.
There are many lead mining buildings to explore in Swaledale.  The Swinner Gill ruins are up a steep climb on the C2C path out of Keld.  Fascinating and thought provoking when you realise the men (and boys?) had this arduous trek every day.    
Old Gang and Surrender can be found on the road between Swaledale and Arkengarthdale. Take the road up the side of the Punchbowl Inn in Low Row. 

Crackpot Hall is probably the most well known abandoned ruin in Upper Swaledale.  On the walk between Keld and Muker take the track up and away from the skeleton tractor which has been left abandoned to be slowly reclaimed by the earth.

The name Crackpot Hall sounds very grand but it is in fact no more than a very large farmhouse. It is however a feast for the imagination triggering a mind-boggling overload of questions ...Who lived here?  Why did they leave? What was life like in such a remote location with no electricity, running water or access road?  Its a place that children adore.  Bring the family.  There is plenty published about Crackpot Hall and even recorded for radio on BBC3 Alice at Crackpot 

On the opposite side of the river Swale is the abandoned hamlet of Harklakes once occupied by lead miners, small holders and farmers.

On the outside there's evidence of a single story porch now long gone. Peep inside and see the cramped living conditions, the fireplace (what did they burn, peat or coal?), a stone staircase, rough sorn beams, stone shelves and lime washed walls.

Stumbling across these abandoned dwellings is a source of great wonderment.  If they fire your curiosity visit the Swaledale Museum in Reeth the Dales Countryside Museum in Hawes both rich with artifacts and information.

Monday, 6 May 2019

Lambing 2019

 After a busy few weeks, lambing is almost finished.  
It has been hard work, long days but as always exciting and rewarding. 

Some of our sheep lamb inside and
but the majority lamb in the fields
surrounding the farmhouse.
This ewe had her triplets outside but Chris
brought them in so that we could keep an eye
on them and make sure they were all getting
an equal share of milk.

 The happiest days were when Heidi and Hetty, my herdwicks, had their lambs. I was lucky enough to see Hetty have the first of her twins, both gimmers.  Heidi had a single tup lamb who I have called Marco - he is a big strong and very confident.

 One of the great joys at lambing time is sharing the experience with our guests, family and friends.


And when we have pen full of pet lambs a helping hand with bottle feeding is gratefully received.



But my herdwick lambs are not the only black lambs on Pry House Farm home field.
Unusually one of our Swaledale ewes had an all black lamb!  It doesn't happen very often - perhaps once every eight or ten years.  
I have called her Amazing Grace.  She has long legs and as her name implies she is very graceful.

Marco when he is only a few hours old and Heidi happily posing for the camera!

Thursday, 2 May 2019

Take a walk on the wild side!

The warm weather and spring sunshine has brought out the early ground hugging wild flowers.
Here are just a few.

 Primroses carpet the bank side at the edge of Birkdale Beck.

Perfectly sheltered & almost hidden from view they quietly provide a stunning display.

Tucked into walls and on shady banks look out for tiny wild violets with their dark heart shaped leaves.  Delicate wood sorrel have a light green trifoil leaf and are a delight to discover.

Wednesday, 1 May 2019

Herdwicks lambs at Pry House Farm

My Herdwick sheep, Heidi and Hetty, have both had their lambs.  
It has caused great excitement as never before have we had anything but Swaledales
 at Pry House Farm.

Heidi was the first to have her lamb; a single, a jet black tup lamb and his name is Marco.

Marco is a big strong lamb with good bone and a broad head.  I hope he makes a good Herdwick tup and that someone wants him for breeding.  We will see - only time will tell.
Exactly a week later Hetty had her twins.  I happened to be in the Shepherd's Hut and glancing out of the window I noticed Hetty on her own by the wall, displaying typical signs of being a-lambing.  I ran for Chris and we walked down to see how she was getting on.  I saw the lamb being born and as we got closer realised there was no movement.  Chris ran to intervene and quickly cleared the lamb's airways  The sack hadn't broken.  If we hadn't been there it could have been a different story.
A short time later lamb number two was born and this time with no drama!
They are both gimmers (females) and I have called them Jacqui and Doris.

                                          Heidi watches on with interest and with Marco (7 days old).                                                                                                                               

Monday, 22 April 2019

What a surprise! - A black Swaledale lamb

Once in a blue moon the unexpected happens and an all black Swaledale lamb is born!

It is a rare occurrence and has caused great interest & delight with friends and visitors to Pry House Farm B&B

The lamb is a gimmer (female)
It is quite likely that a farmer will want her to breed from although at the moment there are quite a few people who would like to take
her home!


Thursday, 18 April 2019

Take a walk with the children - Keld to Angram

Showing You the Way ..... Keld to Angram 
A fun, circular family walk with a colour illustrated guide for the children.

  Going on a walk with children shouldn't be a fight.  Make it fun, give them a map to follow, a list of things to find, exciting things like fossils.  Let them lead the way and keep you on the right track by following the illustrations and the way markers.

Even on the warmest of days in Upper Swaledale you can find a sparkling clear stream to sit beside or better still to play or paddle in!


Stiles to negotiate and bridges to cross......

 A stretch of wetland with duck boarding to stop you getting your feet wet ....

Depending on the time of year discover pastures full of ewes and lambs or meadows rich with flowers & herbs that will be made into hay to feed the sheep throughout winter and lambing time.

And everywhere you look; in meadow field or on hillside high cow'uses, cow'uses, cow'uses.
What is a cowus?  It is a cow house of course!  Quite simply, a place to keep cows.