Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Daffodils and Dark Skies

Has spring finally sprung?

The temperature is finally creeping up - it has been 12 degrees at Budle Bay Croft over the last few days. Nights are still cold (often frosty with FABULOUS skies - more on this later!), but with that day time temperature, we all start to get excited. This means that the annual cycle of birth and rejuvenation has started!

The daffodils have burst into golden loveliness, adding much welcomed colour, warmth and instant sunshine to the grounds.

Budle Bay Croft Bulbs Blooming!

The grass starts to grow (goodness do we need that - the sheep would have been nibbling each other if winter had gone on much longer!).

The ducks start a laying (and treading and nesting)...

Duck Eggs All In A Row

...and the hens become broody!

Healthy Broody hen

The biggest excitement in springtime however is lambing.

That sun is so bright!

Our girls are starting to "bag up" - yep - it means that you think it does and their udders are getting large.  They are going through more licks than we can get a hold of (high energy, multi vitamins and minerals essential to prevent Twin Lamb Disease). 

Ladies Scanned and Pregnant - Hurrahh! Thank Ewe Lee and Geoff!

Twin Lamb Disease is nasty for the ewes and can cause abortion of the lamb and death for the ewe. It is really easy to treat but hard to prevent. The lambs grow very fast during the first couple of trimesters, but they are small so the demand on mum is quite low. However, during the last 6 weeks or so, they start to get much bigger and place huge demands on mum's body nutritionally, and take up a lot of space limiting what mum can eat. However, she has to eat much more to feed them and often sacrifices her own fat supply to top up their needs. You might think that you just feed them more - which I did until last year when tragedy happened for us. Unfortunately though, if you over feed the ewe, she can struggle to deliver her lambs as they become too large. Now this is more common in singletons, not twins, but none the less is still heartbreaking when she is struggling to deliver a healthy lamb and eventually the lamb suffocates and dies. This happened to us last year and we were heartbroken. Sophie Snow White had gone into labour between my 2 hourly checks during the night and her beautiful boy had to be delivered by me but was already dead. I rely very heavily on the expertise of Lee, Geoff and Graeme to help me keep the flock healthy,  and crucially to rapidly treat any suspected ewes.

Lambs at play

Happily though, mostly we deliver healthy lambs from strong, fit mums.  The lamb images are last year's babies, to whet your appetite for impending news. Hot water and sheets at the ready (well, fresh straw and pens made up as nurseries in the stables!)

Bottle Feeding the Orphans

Oi! What Ewe Looking At?

Before I sign off for now, wanted to share some great news. We have been awarded Dark Sky Friendly at Budle Bay Croft!

This is not really surprising when clever photographers can get shots of the incredible Northern Lights and Milky Way like these!

Amazing Image of the Northern Lights in The Area Of Outstanding Natural Beauty close by Budle Bay Croft, expertly taken by I Glendinning and kindly shared by Visit Northumberland
Majestic Shot of The Milky Way over Lindisfarne
 It deservedly stole the Visit Northumberland's judges hearts in the Winter Dark Skies Competition!

And while we cannot promise you will always see skies like these, the Northumbrian clear frosty spring nights offer a great opportunity to increase your chances!  Feeling inspired? Then why not book a stay with us, set the alarm and try to get some images to enter into Visit Northumberland's Spring Dark Sky competition Best of Northumbrian!