It was a big month on the farm, with the sheep lambing and cows calving. The ewes were lambing left, right and centre, and with all of them due to lamb in about a month, Daddy was kept on his toes. The ewes all lamb outdoors, and we reckon that they are all much fitter and healthier as a result.
Very few require assistance, and there is no mismothering, meaning the babies do not get mixed up, as might happen if they were lambed in a shed. My mum caught one of them lambing on camera, and posted it on Twitter with the hash tag “OnTheFarm”, and it was shown on RTÉ’s Big Week on The Farm.
Up early to check the sheep
The cows calve in the shed, and once the calves are ear-tagged and ringed (meaning the male ones are castrated), they head straight out into the field, where they will remain for most of their lives. They are lovely calves to look at, and although quite small when they are born, they soon grow up.
The weather was very nice for the Easter holidays, and Daddy brought one of us out each morning with him to check the sheep. It turned into a bit of a competition as to who was to go out with him each morning. Sometimes we would write a note to leave on his pillow when we went to bed, secretly requesting that he select one of us ahead of another. With a 6.30am wake up call, it proved too early on a couple of occasions for my five-year-old brother George, but he did get to go out once or twice. We all got our turn every few days, and it was nice to spend that time out on the farm bright and early in the morning with the birds singing their hearts out.
Dash, our sheepdog, is getting on well. Daddy brought him out to see the sheep a couple of times, and he got very excited and ran round and round – he still has much to learn (Dash, that is!). He gets on very well with Penny our whippet, and they enjoy playing chase and play fighting together. Penny is much faster, but Dash seems much smarter.
The rescue ponies Fergus and Teddy received a bit of extra care and attention over the holiday, and both enjoyed nice grooms and getting their manes and tails brushed out. Teddy is a bit on the fat side, so he is now in a small paddock and cannot eat so much. We would be worried he might get laminitis, a painful foot condition common in small, fat ponies. Fergus is yet to be broken in, and Mum hopes to get that done before the beginning of the summer holidays.
Easter Sunday dinner
On Easter Sunday, we had a leg of our own organic lamb. Actually, it was mutton (being over two years old), but tasted very nice and was lovely and tender. There was even enough left over for a curry the next day.
Although it is delicious, Mum can get a bit carried away and we can sometimes have lamb a couple of times a week for dinner. I know there is still a lot in the freezer, so hopefully it won’t catch her eye for a week or so.
Charlie Hackett is a 13-year-old boy from Geashill in Co Offaly, where he lives with his two younger sisters Poppy and Heidi, and his younger brother George. His parents Mark and Pippa both work on the farm, producing organic beef and sheep, along with a few horses, chickens, dogs and cats making it a busy family farm. Charlie is a first-year student at Kilkenny College, and boards there during the week.