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We went to Home Farm today because it’s lambing season. Home Farm is part of the Wimpole Estate and it’s a working farm that specialises in rare breeds. (See the end for more about the Estate).
For the record, the sheep breeds in which they specialise are Norfolk Horn, Leicester Longwool, Hebridean, Portland, Oxford Down, Manx Loghtan, and Whitefaced Woodland.
240 lambs were born last year.. The number on the board said that 203 lambs have been born so far this season.
Lambing season is set to end this Sunday the 12th May with a couple of days extra for stragglers. What will the final tally be, I wonder?
Isn’t it gorgeous?
If you are not familiar with how the lambing season works, there’s a reason that farmers can be so precise about it.
Unlike humans who can breed any time, sheep only have an average of 17 days in the year when they are in estrus, the breeding cycle.
Within that 17 days, they are only receptive to being mated for approximately 24 to 36 hours. Once impregnated, the average gestation period for a ewe is 147 days.
Therefore, farmers can be certain that all the lambs in a flock will be born within a narrow window of time.
It also means that the farmer can stagger the availability of rams to stretch out the season a bit. In that way, the farmer can be on hand for any difficult births, and not be overwhelmed by them all happening on the same time.
Tamara and I remember a few years ago seeing a barn full of heavily pregnant ewes, all standing panting and looking fixedly with great concentration.
Today we saw a tent of pregnant ewes, with one or two panting, but the rest obviously not quite ready to give birth as some of them were lounging about.
The Wimpole Estate
The Wimpole Estate is a National Trust property near Cambridge. The Trust is a national charity dedicated to preserving buildings and habitats. Most National Trust properties are open to everyone, though some have restricted entry to preserve the natural habitat.
The Wimpole Estate is open to everyone and on the estate there is Wimpole Hall, a country house that dates back to the early 1600s, the walled gardens, the woods and fields, and Home Farm.