We wanted to do something that wasn’t the usual soft play/cinema/walk around trip with the boys (it has been off and on raining for a long time now here) and Wiltshire College holds an annual Lambing event that we decided to take the boys to. Held in Lacock, Chippenham the event is spread over the entire farm allowing people to come and see the sheep, newborn lambs (perhaps even a live birth!) and enjoy a good country activity.
It took us around 45 minutes to get there from Shaftesbury, which wasn’t too bad…. then it started to rain!
We were lucky though, it had eased off by the time we arrived at the farm (the wrong way in -thank you satnav!), and stuffed the children in their wellies. Jon refused to put his wellies on until it was time to “meet the sheep”, and Elias decided to copy Jon…. so we all saved getting dressed until we got there…. I can feel my blood pressure rising as I type this.
It wasn’t really clear where you could enter the carpark, and we got stuck slightly in a muddy ditch (I swear I got the car moving by shuffling back and forth – like you do on a hill and the car isn’t powerful enough!), we managed to avoid catastrophe and embarrassment though and managed to score a well located parking space as car number 1 in the field (slightly satisfying!)
We waited in line for the tractor ride, there were around 4 tractors and trailers transporting people back and forth throughout the day which was incredibly fun and useful. The trip to the farm itself was only about 5 minutes, all of which was spent dodging the mud that was flinging everywhere due to the tractor tyres. I don’t care about a bit of mud, but I was hoping to avoid a full mud-pack situation.
We spoke to the staff sat next to us and they were talking about how they had actually built the trailers themselves, being sponsored by local suppliers. This guy was not more than 21 years of age and he had helped to build a trailer and had people sat on it over the whole day. He had a great sense of pride in their work, and he was very obviously passionate about his learning experience.
After jumping off the fun tractor ride (there’s something about a good tractor ride, it reminds me of childhood trips to the farm!) we had a quick comfort break (portaloos – not too badly dirty throughout the whole day which was nice for once!) and immediately set about going to see some sheep.
The whole location was buzzing with people already half an hour into opening so we made our way around slowly, trying to keep Elias from melting down. He was super grumpy today and James and myself had a hard time fully enjoying it because of that, it made everything (even waiting in line for a cookie for the children) so much more stressful. We are pretty exhausted tonight, if it wasn’t for Jonathan being such a good boy and just enjoying everything the whole day may have been cut short. Parent-style.
There were some great features set up; from the Tractor Ted bouncy castle, the pens and pens full of ewes waiting to give birth and baby lambs being transported throughout the farm (the staff were always happy to let the children hold and hug them. There were many lovely family moments captured today)
We saw a fair few ewes with water bags which showed they were in labour and due to give birth within the next few hours, and a lot of lambs were born whilst we attended but we didn’t see any in person. I don’t think the boys (especially Jonathan) cared about it, perhaps next year Jon will be old enough to want to learn more about the birthing process. He did say he felt that the “lady sheeps” looked grumpy and wondered whether they were in pain. I talked about how they would have the baby lambs, and care for them after by feeding them from their ‘udders’ (like a cow).
I certainly felt quite emotional going around and meeting the ewes and their babies, some had lost their lambs, some had had a horrible birth. It was quite bittersweet at some points, not helped by the fact that we saw a sheep who appeared dead in the field as we left afterwards. Jonathan gleefully (for some reason) pointed out there were other sheep possibly not alive, and we assured him they were most likely sleeping.
Elias was not faring well by 12pm, and we had spent a whole two hours wondering around looking at lambs, cuddling and feeling their soft newborn wool and having a relatively (bar Elias’ tantrums) good time. Cookies were bought to satiate, one was dropped on the floor (by Elias) and duly thrown away. The meltdown that ensued led to another one being bought, and I took Jon to have our photo taken.
The thing about days like this, is that NO CHILD wants to wait in line. Just not happening, so I bribed Jonathan with a go on the bouncy tractor. Elias and daddy joined us and Elias found a new game in grabbing straw hay and throwing it up in the air, causing us all to sneeze and cough.
Eventually, after much patient waiting (by myself and daddy) we all sat down on the bales of hay and had a lamb brought to us. There were three lambs, all of which were so well behaved (more so than the children) and had to deal with a lot of children. Kudos to them, they worked well.
Elias had calmed down and we managed to get a few frames that looked happy (because it’s always the way, trying to keep calm whilst your children will not play ball) and we went and got them printed. The photographer (Stuart Askew) was calm, patient and warm. He made the whole thing feel easier than it had looked. James took the children for a play on the bouncy tractor and I queued again for the prints, not badly priced at £16 for five prints. One for those you love or want to share the awkward family photo with!
Ours ended up looking great (not a fan of my own self in it but the point is we have a family photo!) and we were pretty ready to go home after.
We waited for the tractor back to the car and realised that it took people to ANOTHER PART OF THE FARM, with cows (the milk from them goes to Cadbury’s), chickens and fairground rides…….
That was slightly irking. We were too tired to get off at the halfway point and go and see the other bits, a bit peeved that it wasn’t clear there was more to see. We didn’t mind so much though as it was lunchtime and I had lovingly made (slaved) a picnic to give the boys. Once we had got back into the car, we breathed a slight sigh of relief until the “mummy can I have my tablet?” started and we drove to a nearby McDonalds to grab some hot tea. There is NOTHING, like a hot tea sitting in a car listening to children complain they are tired, that they need chocolate, all after a nice family day out.
If you would like to experience (a more lovely) lambing experience than we did, you can still buy tickets for next weekend. We paid £20 for all of us, it covers up to 7 seats in a vehicle. It’s quite a bargain for some educational farm fun. PACK WELLIES!
You can buy tickets on the day, or online here: