'It's the best lambing season in years'
SHEPHERDS across the dale have reported their best lambing season in years and are hoping the good weather continues.
Although, they say, a drop of rain would not go amiss.
For Marcus Bainbridge, who farms high above Eggleston, lambing season has been “refreshingly different” to recent years when he has brought his flock indoors during blizzards.
He said: “We are having a very good lambing. Great sunsets and early mornings – we are doing alright.
“You won’t get many farmers in the upper dale complaining, although we could do with a drop of rain – it is very dry.
“In terms of the lockdown [for the coronavirus pandemic] it has a minimal effect. You are in lockdown during lambing anyway and you can write off a month to six weeks.”
However, he recalls a time when things were a lot worse for farmers.
He said: “In February 2001 we were effectively in lockdown for a year with foot and mouth. So, I would say that had a worse effect on people. It just went on and on.
“But aren’t we the blessed ones to be where we are? We are not stuck in a bedsit or a tower block in a city. So many people would love to walk on the land we have. It is our liberty, our freedom.”
Mr Bainbridge’s flock of Swaledale, Texels and Teeswater ewes began giving birth in the first week in April and about half of them have already lambed. But while lambing is a roaring success, other parts of his business – holiday cottages and supplying animals for film sets – has ground to a halt.
Mr Bainbridge said: “Hopefully the lockdown is lifted before the summer routine begins – when we are shearing and during silage and haytime.”
He praised the countryside community with organisations like Utass (Upper Teesdale Agricultural Support Services) and parish councils putting measures in place to help those around them.
He said: “In our part of the parish we are looking after seven or eight houses.”