*Editor’s note: This is a guest contribution from Chelsea Phillippe. Chels is a longtime friend, raft guide, climber and adventurer. Each winter she takes on a new, amazing and sometimes odd experience. This winter was the second that she and Katy Nelson spent lambing in England. Enjoy the story and photos.
During the cold dark months of ski town winter, my good friend Katy Nelson and I decided to return to England for another round of lambing.
On March 10th we arrived at the Walson-Barton Sheep Farm, near Winkleigh England, to help the Hawkey family and their 500 pregnant ewes for an exciting 3 weeks of lambing.
Back on the farm we fell quickly into our routine of lambing all day, which went quite smoothly because of our previous lambing experience. A good walk, dinner in the evening and a solid night of sleep rounded out the day.
Chores included feeding, watering, cleaning pens, moving ewes and lambs into grassy fields, bottle feeding in the nursery and of course the hands on delivery aid when needed. We enjoyed a day off here and there exploring the country side (and local cider factory), hiked the local Park, Dart Moor, toured around Dartmouth and built a climbing wall inside one of the lambing barns (check ClimbingHouse soon for that story!).
An exciting change came when another farmer borrowed me to lend a hand with his 500 pregnant ewes while he tended his 3000 emotional egg laying hens. A third of his flock are a breed called “Easy Care” meaning their wool falls out on its own, no sheering necessary. This is very handy to the sheep farmer, but quite frustrating to the shepherdesses who catch the flighty sheep by grabbing their wool. There were a few days where it actually took both of us to catch some of the quicker ewes….mid delivery!
3 weeks of work should always be followed by 3 weeks of play, so Katy and I flew into the tiny town of Knock in western Ireland. From there we proceeded to hitch hike our way south along Ireland’s western coastline for 16 days. There were a few foggy mornings, but surprisingly only a couple hours of rain.
We caught rides from amazing Irish people, a few who went hours out of their way to take us to our destinations! One gentleman originally told us he couldn’t help us, so we thanked him for stopping. About 20 minutes later he returned to take us anywhere we wanted since our politeness had convinced him to take the morning off work. In total we caught 27 different hitches and learned more about Ireland from the locals than any book or bus ride may have provided. A few geographical highlights included the Aran Islands, the Cliffs of Moher, Valentia Island, hiking the Dingle Way on the Dingle Peninsula (showcased amazing beaches), reaching the peaks of Croagh Patrick (as in Saint Patrick), Mount Brandon (2nd highest Mountain in Ireland) and Carrauntoohill (1st highest peak in Ireland). And of course we partook in the necessary tourist sites, such as kissing the Blarney stone and enjoying a pint of Guinness from the original brewery in Dublin. Along the way we stayed in Hostels and tried our luck with couchsurfing.com. Amazingly we only met friendly people who offered us information, rides, comfortable places to sleep and friendship.
Back in the good ole US of A Katy and I are playing, I mean working, in our respected outdoor jobs, but are planning to meet up with some of our new friends from Ireland who promised to come visit us this spring!
Fun Fact: Katy and I are counted in both the 2011 England census and 2011 Ireland census.