We are coming to the end of lambing here at Calke, with only a few stragglers left to lamb.
Fresh lambs in the lambing tent.
We have had two very successful weekends trialling out our new format of lambing, using home farm instead of the big gazebo near park entrance. The new format has allowed a very intimate feel, especially when people get the opportunity to observe the magical moment of a lamb being born a mere 10ft away.
At the end of our second weekend the tally stands at 63 ewes lambing 71 little cuddly lambs (awwww).
The lamb tally board.
If you have missed out on catching the lambs, we shall be keeping them in the walled garden for the follwing week(ish) for you to see. It’s great to watch them as they start to find their feet, form mischievous gangs, and run about discovering their new world.
Lambs in the walled garden.
This weekend we’re hosting a lambing event at Calke Abbey. The good weather has been booked, and the lambs have been pouring out with maximum awwww factor. Saturday brought in a good steady stream of people all day, with families enjoying the sight of freshly born lambs, and then sitting down for a brew and a bite to eat at the catering van parked up at home farm (An area not usually accessible to the public!).
Many people waited around for a number of hours yesterday, whilst one particular ewe showed signs of being on the brink of lambing. It wasn’t untill after 4 O’clock, with a little help from the head ranger that the lamb was born to a very eager crowd. This happening not a moment too soon, before we closed up for the day. The lamb count as of Sunday morning is 47, with plenty more still due in our maternity ward.
A sheep eye view of the lambing event.
If you’ve not been able to join us this weekend, we’ll be awwwwing all over again next weekend (5th/6th April), so make sure to join us.
A view of the maternity ward.
The lambing event has altered from previous years, due to a much smaller flock of portland sheep that we now look after. To find out full details for our lambing event please follow this link.
Today at Calke Abbey the first lamb of the season was born and took its first gulp of real world air.
One of our volunteers Peggy Monahan has turned 90 today (Happy Birthday Peggy!), and so it was easy for us to decide who should have the naming rights. Being a female, the first born lamb is now named Peggy.
Our first lamb Peggy receiving some mothering licks moments after her birth.
Many people have been querying about our lambing event this year, as a large proportion of the sheep flock has left Calke Abbey. Lambing will still be taking place but on a much smaller scale with our remaining small flock of Portland sheep. This will be taking place over two weekends, the 29th/30th of March and the 5th/6th of April.
For full details about our lambing event, please see this page on our website.
Now that the new season at Calke Abbey is in full swing, our resident park guide volunteers are back to give some fantastic guided tours around the Calke Abbey Park. We have a team of four park guides who each have a great in depth knowledge about the estate as well as individual interests about Calke Abbey giving their own unique tours.
Our park guide Helen in action.
The walks start from the ticket office and last around 1hr to 1.5hrs, occurring on Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays. Each day there are two walks, one at 1130 and 1430, usually with the morning walk including a walk through the deer park. We advise that people wear appropriate footwear such as walking boots, and unfortunately the terrain is not suitable for buggies and wheelchairs.
Look out for special seasonal walks that will incorporate the orchid and bluebell season through less frequented areas of the park.
For more details on walking activities available at Calke Abbey please visit our Activities page here.
Recently the East Midlands National Trust Volunteers visited Calke Abbey to help out with the ranger team for the weekend. This group meets once or twice a month at the weekend to visit a local National Trust estate such as Calke Abbey, Hardwick and Belton; working alongside the ranger teams on tasks such as hedge laying, scrubland clearance and tree planting.
Their 2 day visit to Calke started with raking up cuttings from our calcareous grassland site. This site is grazed by our Hebridean sheep and then cut using a small flail mower and strimmer, with the cut material needing removal to maintain a nutrient poor environment necessary for calcareous grassland species to thrive. The limeyards is a great place to visit all year round, with stunning orchid displays in the summer.
Raking up grass at Calke’s Limeyards.
The afternoon was then spent trimming a hedgerow in preparation for it to be laid, all the cut material being removed to a fire, which conveniently kept the team warm on one of our typical wintery days.
Day two was cursed with relentless rain, and so we took to mucking out our sheeps isolation pen. After which, a new coat of paint was given to its walls, enabling an easy surface to wipe down in the future.
I only wish that I had taken a before shot, there was an incredible transformation. Sheep heaven!
If you’d like to find out more information about what the East Midlands National Trust Volunteers are up to you can find them on facebook here.
Last weekend we were lucky to have two enthusiastic families brave the blustery winds on Saturday morning to come and get fairly mucky helping us build some giant anthills.
We are currently in the process of making some areas of natural play throughout the Park, which will include fallen trees to climb, logs to balance on and a rope swing to, well, swing on! But why anthills we hear you ask? Well we decided that it would be nice to provide an area where you can chill out after all that tiresome play, and what better way to chill out and take in the beautiful parkland than sitting on an anthill!
Unfortunately the ants haven’t been creative enough to build us some suitable hills, so we had to build our own. So how do you make a big anthill?
We started by flexing our muscles and shoveled plenty of good soil into a wheelbarrow.
Then we transported it to a suitable anthill spot and tipped it out.
We then made sure each hill was well constructed – patting it down so it is nice and firm – many bottoms will hopefully be sitting on them, and making sure it is a nice anthill shape.
We made a few little beasties homeless – lots of worms of various sizes and the odd beetle, this one was called Dave. We made sure we ticked off the important No.30 on the 50 things to do before you are 11 3/4 – hold a scary beast!
We found all the beasties a new home though – Dave made a swift entry into the new anthill.
We then covered our anthills in turf, so they will make a nice comfortable seat. Then the only thing left to do was to take a picture of our proud workers with their very own anthills.
A massive thanks to the Shaws, the Horlocks and the Thorpes for your hard work and willingness to get muddy!