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Diary: Ewes’ due dates clashing with Green Cert exam day

In this week’s Farmer’s Diary, Clodagh Hughes discusses lambing 2022, calculating due dates and a dairy exam as part of her Green Cert.

This week’s article is all about my upcoming lambing as I am really on the countdown now, folks!

I may have hinted at my lack of prowess in the maths department, and I always double, and treble check my figures.

While doing so one evening last week, I realised, from my records from tupping season, that I could very well have lambs a few days sooner than I initially anticipated.

A ewe’s gestation period (pregnancy) lasts approximately five months, but she could lamb anywhere between 142 -152 days and even on either side of these times.

We all know Mother Nature does not really care about our facts and figures.

So, “what’s all the fuss I hear you ask?”…Well, next Thursday (17th) will be day 142 since the ram was introduced back in September.

This means that there could very well be wee baby lambs due to fall in and around that day next week.

Now, normally I would not be making an issue of this, but, over the last three years, I have been present in the lambing shed and environs throughout the full lambing season.

Green Cert

This year, I have to attend a course day for my Green Cert and; Are you with me now?! The course day is next Thursday, AND we have an exam to top it off!

It is our first in-person day since before Christmas, so I must attend. We will also be completing some dairy skills that will not be repeated. And, as the course is nearing completion, I sure as hell do not want to be repeating anything in April or May!

My big worry is that I will be away from the farm for 7/8 hours and, with the course location being an hour and a half’s drive away, I cannot exactly pop back home to check on things.

I do have a friend I can get to check in on the girls, and my father is also free.

But I think you will understand when I say; it is just not the same. And I reckon most farmers would agree with me.

We spend a lot of time with our animals, some of us perhaps a little too much! (Heehee)

But we know these beasts inside out, and they know and trust us. Also, because we know our livestock and their behaviours, we notice wee signs that indicate different things such as; if an animal is off form, suffering an ailment, and especially at lambing time, some ewes have tell-tale signs that help the farmer be ready to care for the ewe and lambs.

Anyhoo, there is every chance that no one will lamb until I get home or even a day or two later.

It is the fact that I am away and not in control that is bothering me. But, I have to finish this course and pass this exam.

So, as soon as I can escape, I shall be high-tailing it back over the road (respecting all speed limits, of course!)

It will all work out. Wish me, luck folks!

Read more of Clodagh Hughes’ sheep farming diary entries.

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