Monday, 4 September 2017

Love Lamb Week: a blog from Jessica Spencer

Jessica Spencer is a young farmer, who has been caring for her own flock of sheep since she was 14 years old. She’s keen to raise awareness of the great work done by farmers in the UK to rear lambs that are renowned around the world for their provenance.

Getting into sheep farming
Most young farmers are either born into or ‘fall’ into sheep farming when continuing as the next generation on the family run farm. I am from a beef-farming family but always wanted to farm sheep. Safe to say my parents wanted nothing to do with my flock when I acquired my first six Suffolk X Texel sheep!

Staying motivated
Our animals depend on devoted farmers who feed and care for them every day of the year; farming isn’t a 9-5 job, it’s a lifestyle! When I decided I wanted to purchase a small flock, my motivation was independence. I wanted to receive a first-hand insight in to running a livestock business and manage my own finances. I always strived to be different I can’t say I knew many others my ages who owned their own sheep and maintained an expanding livestock business throughout their secondary education!



What do you love about your job

I can’t say getting up at 6.30am every morning before school was a highlight of my sheep career. Neither was getting shouted at by my mum for ruining at least three pairs of school shoes a term by traipsing through mud (amongst other things) daily when going to check on my sheep! Despite waking up every two hours right through the night during lambing season, the joy and satisfaction you receive when successfully bringing new life in to the world most definitely defies all the negatives. But ultimately we love what we do, otherwise we wouldn’t do it!


Future of lamb farming

‘My grandfather used to say that once in your life you need a doctor, a lawyer, a policeman and a preacher but every day, three times a day, you need a farmer.’ – Brenda Schoepp

In today’s society, the younger generation have the consumer power to decide the future and sustainability of our British farmers and growers. We rely on the support of our customers purchasing British grown and reared food in order to maintain the cycle and continue to meet the ever-increasing demand of our expanding ageing population.

My future ambition is to ensure everyone at some point during their education gets the opportunity to visit a farm and discover where their food is grown/reared. We need to be inspiring the younger generation to support British farmers by purchasing their produce and promoting our unquestionable good quality British food.

An unusual story from the farm

Some sheep have a kamikaze attitude to life. If one day they cannot find an appropriate ditch to throw themselves in, a small enough fence to squeeze themselves through or a large enough bramble bush to get caught up in, they simply try again the next day! Persistence is key.



‘Tinker’s out, again!’ Everyone, all the time.
My appropriately named orphan lamb Tinker became a tourist attraction at our Farm Shop in Nottinghamshire. Rejected by her mother, Tinker was set for a life of luxury – seizing herself a 1 bedroom cardboard box with fantastic central heating in a prime location (in front of the AGA). Food was never an issue as she had a personal milk maid (me) to attend to every baa & bleat request for a fresh, warm bottle. Following naptime, Tinker would burn some energy on a small stroll around the yard – ceasing optimum attention and cuddles from passing farm shop customers.


Having out-grown the box, it was time for Tinker to be instated with the other sheep in the paddock; However Tinker had other ideas. Piece of advice: You CANNOT keep a cade (bottle fed) lamb inside the pen; no matter how hard you try’. Tinker was an independent sheep who didn’t need to follow the flock, and she felt life was better on the outside of the pen; because of course ‘grass is always greener on the other side!’