Lambing Live down on the farm

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Words and pictures by Colin Smeeton

Alison and David Henderson of Kilpatrick Farm near Blackwaterfoot welcomed hundreds of people to their working farm during one of the busiest times of the year for a Lambing Live charity event.

While extremely busy with lambing and calving, which takes place 24 hours a day, the couple, who also have three children Emma, Lisa and Cara, are intent on introducing farming practices and life to young people while also supporting the Royal Highland Education Trust (RHET) charity.

RHET work with volunteers to provide free educational activities and experimental learning opportunities to children throughout Scotland. As a farm host, and with Alison Henderson being a primary school teacher in Lamlash, the Henderson’s were happy to open their farm to school children and on Wednesday April 3, they invited visitors and Arran folk to experience the day-to-day life of farmers during lambing and calving season.

On offer was the chance to be able to handle – under the watchful eye of accommodating farm helpers – the newborn lambs and to learn more about the animals from farmer David, whose friendly nature and love of animals, enured the children to some of the 45 Limousin and Belgian blue cows and 420 Texel sheep that are kept on the farm.

Christine Cuthbertson of RHET Ayrshire and Arran joined the farmers in Blackwaterfoot and supplied a life-size cow replica, named Rita, that children could milk while learning about farm produce and milk products.

By far the most popular activity for the children – and adults who stood at the ready with their cameras – was the chance to handle some of the baby lambs, some only a day old. Emma and Cara Henderson joined their parents in showing off the animals and took particular care in explaining how to handle them gently.

David said: ‘We have been pleasantly surprised by the huge number of people that have visited on our open days. Quite clearly there is a massive interest in learning more about where our food comes from and the children and parents seem to have really enjoyed the experience. Thank you to everyone that has visited and those who donated to the very worthwhile cause and charity, RHET.’

With more than 100 people watching, from a distance, two little lambs were born in the afternoon and a number of other new arrivals were welcomed shortly after all of the visitors had left for the day. Owing to the popularity of the event the Henderson’s hosted a further afternoon session on Wednesday April 10, once again at no cost, but many more donations were gratefully received for RHET.

Lamber Kirstie Barton shows visitors a young sheep which was born less than 24 hours earlier. 01_B15farm01

David Henderson shows visitors two of the day-old Limousin calves. 01_B15farm02

Visitors line up along one of the sheep pens to have a look at the expectant mothers. 01_B15farm03

We are here to see the babies, a group of children pose for a photo before returning to look at the animals. 01_B15farm04

A young girl gets to grips with holding a wriggling newborn lamb. 01_B15farm05

Euan Fleming gets his chance to handle a lamb after waiting patiently for his turn. 01_B15farm06

Christine Cuthbertson of RHET Ayrshire and Arran talks to an inquisitive group of children about milk products. 01_B15farm08

Alba Sabate of Lamlash tries her hand at milking Rita the replica cow. 01_B15farm09

A young boy strikes up a conversation with a friendly cow. 01_B15farm10

Cara Henderson manages to hold a wriggling lamb while her sister Emma shows visitors a more compliant baby. 01_B15farm11

David Henderson encourages young children to touch a docile cow. 01_B15farm12