Monday, 17 January 2011

Lots of Lambs

Part of our flock of Xalda sheep.

It’s particularly lovely to walk around the farm at this time of year and watch the young lambs running backwards and forwards and jumping in the air whilst their anxious mums look on. We had a lot of lambs born in the last week of December and these lambs are now particularly active running from one end of the farm to the other in a very playful way.

Getting ready for play time

Our Xalda sheep (like most sheep of the northern hemisphere) breed in the autumn and winter months and are known as short day breeders. It is a survival advantage for the specie to give birth to their young during periods of favourable weather and feed supplies. In the valleys and coastal regions of Asturias by February the meadows are bursting with growth and this means plenty of food for the new lambs and the hungry mums.

White mother with her three day old lamb.

Brown mother with her three week old lamb.

Sheep do not need an uncomfortable talk from their parents or to watch a film in school about the birds and the bees. Influenced by a mix of environmental factors and hormonal responses sheep instinctively know what to do and when to do it.

The moon over the farm as seen from the hotel with the Picos in the distance.

In our flock we have the ram roaming with the ewes all year long unlike many “commercial” flocks where the ram will be introduced only for a short period of time so as to control the date of lambing. On our farm there is no controlled mating time and the natural cycles of the earth and the moon are left to assert their influences on the sheep’s reproductive cycles.

Dusk over the farm with the moon over the sheep.

On our farm where nature is left to her own course lambing certainly comes in flushes. A surge of lambs get born in a 5 to 7 day period and this occurs about every 4 weeks.

Some of our sheep with the hotel in the background.

Some people say that the lunar influence on the feminine biology does not have any demonstrated scientific base, and it is a belief consequence of millennia of cult difficult to overthrow. However when you work on the land and are truly in contact with nature, like on the farm at Posada del Valle, its difficult not to believe in lunar cycles and the wisdom of nature.

Newly born lamb with her caring mother.

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Hotel Posada del Valle is a small hotel in Asturias Northern Spain surrounded by its own organic farm and where we are passionate about organic farming, food, and sustainable livelihoods. In this Blog those of us who live and work at Hotel Posada del Valle open a door to share with all of you who are interested in what we are doing.