Each year at this time Sparsholt Agricultural College holds its lambing weekend. We always try to go but don’t always notice when it is on, January always seems so early to bring young into the Wintry world.
It’s a great day out for all the family, always a bit chilly and invariably very muddy but the kids love it and get to learn a lot about life (and death) on the farm.
First we saw the lambs; tiny, wobbly, fluffy, lovely, little lambs, nuzzling up to big bewildered Mother sheep who have just given birth.
The young seemed unbearably cute, but there was also a live birth going on at the same time, projected onto a large screen. This one ended in two still born lambs – a stark reminder of the harsh reality of Nature’s ways. The unfortunate Mother sheep was mercifully given a speedy substitute lamb from another Mother sheep that had given birth to triplets.
We also saw horses with a farrier. On the way to Sparsholt we had driven through Hursley village and I can still remember, as a child, watching the blacksmith that used to work there. He would make horse shoes using a bellows driven forge and anvil; we were allowed to watch his work and see him fit the shoes to horses.
All kinds of farming activities were on show; cows were present, being milked at various intervals, and the children could play in a massive tractor but I think that the part that they all enjoyed most was bending metal into flowerpot holders.
Afterwards we retired to the lovely Plough Inn in Sparsholt village for a satisfying lunch, followed by a run around the garden and the chance to feed the local donkeys.