Kenfig Diaries; Lambing Season

Welcome to our new guest blog the Kenfig Diaries; an insight into the life of a grazier and farmer, by Lloyd Williams. Lloyd grazes sheep and cattle at Kenfig National Nature Reserve, which is a highly protected site for its rare flora, including the fen orchid. It’s also a haven for bird life.

Grazing is an essential tool in the management of the nature reserve and the Williams’ family are hugely appreciated for their hard work grazing the sand dunes, not to mention their annual lending of lambs for PONT to take to schools as part of the Don’t Burn Bernie Roadshow! Read on to find out more about life on the farm and nature reserve in March 2020.  

sheep conservation grazing kenfig dunesTwo weeks into March and we have had a few days let up with the rain and a tiny bit of sunshine. Most of the ewes have come home from the sand dunes to lamb, leaving behind a few stragglers. The second round of lambing is in full swing and it isn’t going by the book. The book states;

“March lambing will come with wall to wall sunshine, day time temperatures of 15 degrees and enough grass to hide a small pony. Socks will also become damp from sweaty feet inside of your wellies.”

I can tick off the damp socks (water coming over the top of wellies) but that looks about it. This book has returned to the shelf next to “The Planting of Winter Crops” hopefully that will have more use next autumn too. The reality of this is all ready being seen with straw and grain prices continually creeping up all over the country.

Over the past week a few locals have been in touch about of the ewes left on the dunes, one was caught in the brambles right in the middle of the site on Friday. The person who saw her pulled her free and let me know of the situation, although after a couple of hours of looking I could not find her. Then yesterday I was contacted again with her location, tucked in the trees and brambles. She is now at home with the others waiting to lamb. “What 3 Words” is proving massively useful in these situations and I would like to encourage more people to use it. It is very simple and easy to use, and hasn’t failed us once when finding locations on a vast area like Kenfig.

lambs kenfig dunes conservation grazingThe livestock tracking project [NB. A Hoof Prints app was trialled in conjunction with PONT last year] is slowly becoming back on track with a new company. A shipment of new collars have arrived and are ready to be fitted to some cattle, but once again we have come across another unforeseen hurdle. The collars came from a Spanish company which were supposed to be coming along as well. Who could of guessed it?  [NB. At the time of writing, disruption is occurring across Europe as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic]. Now I suppose further delays are inevitable, although the building of the infrastructure has started and we hope to get the collars on the cows in the next week or so.

So, like many other farmers around the UK, I will slip on my wellies, pull up my waterproof trousers, zip up my jacket, take a deep breath, sigh at the rain and whisper “just another day in paradise” before walking out into this endless winter. Although the weather forecast shows an entire 20 hours before we get any more precipitation, perhaps spring is here after all!

On a lighter note, this morning we have a couple of our pet lambs joining PONT and the South Wales Fire and Rescue Services as they start their annual “Don’t Burn Bernie” road show. The road show is aimed at primary school children with the aim of educating them around the dangers of grass fires that are common in the summer months throughout South Wales.

Thank you to Lloyd for his insight into life farming and conservation grazing in Wales. You can follow more of Lloyd’s posts at the Facebook group Kenfig Dunes- Grazing is Amazing. Contact PONT for conservation grazing matters. 

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