As Barleylands Farm prepares for another busy lambing season, lets look at the history of the shepherd…
We are fortunate to have a good number of talented and experienced shepherds among the staff. In times past, farmers with large flocks would try to hire extra help for their busiest season. This would reduce the workload during the day and to ease the pressure during long and tiring nights. Shepherds could be hired in the nearest market town. But many were nomadic and wandered the length of the country seeking work at each farm they passed. If they were lucky, they might find themselves accommodated in a Shepherd’s Hut for the duration of the lambing season.
Most Shepherds’ Huts included a cast-iron stove which provided warmth for the shepherd as well as any weak or orphaned lambs. The stove would allow clothes to dry quickly. It also provided a source of hot water at the end of a gruelling and often dirty night’s work. There would be a bed and mattress for snatching some well-earned sleep and, often underneath this, a small pen for any lambs who needed nursing.
This wasn’t a job that came naturally to many people. Lambing ewes can only be left to fend for themselves for a limited time and a good shepherd had to be able to rouse himself every hour or two throughout each night to ensure a healthy flock. Without the help of a modern alarm clock, and unable to wait for the rising sun, shepherds probably relied mainly on noise and instinct to wake them throughout the night.
A well-trained sheepdog would also alert the shepherd to problems or danger. They would sleep as close to the ewes as possible, so that they would wake to the sound of a distressed mother. A modern day equivalent would be the nursing mother who will often hear her baby ‘snuffle’ in the night. And so she is awake and preparing the night feed before the little one starts to bawl. Fortunately, there will be plenty of staff on hand to cover the demands of the Barleylands Lambing Barn. Thankfully they will have full use of a comfortable Shepherds’ Rest Room close to the sheep.
You can’t beat the real thing! So we look forward to seeing you in the Lambing Barn throughout this exciting season.
We are expecting new arrivals from 11th February onwards.