Michael Atkinson has decided to retire from lambing after more than 50 years.
The Postland farmer has come to the decision that, at 72, it’s time to call a halt to the hard days and nights of watching over the lambs.
Michael said: “When you get over 70 it’s harder. I did have someone to help me last year, but he’s got to be 75 as well and it gets a job to get people to come and help you. They are not interested in livestock. They are all arable farmers.”
Michael may continue to keep sheep, buying in ewe lambs to grow on to sell, though having just sold some of his Texel crosses he says the trade this year is “terrible”.
He has been involved with livestock since he was 16 when he bought his first calf, gradually building the herd.
At one time he and his late brother James had a large concern, with over 500 cattle, more than a thousand sheep and 200,000 laying hens.
Michael, whose father and both grandfathers were livestock and arable farmers, says: “For several years we lambed more than a thousand lambs. I can’t see how we did it. We have had sheep longer than anything else.
“At one time we had staff on 24-hours a day in two shifts because when you have a thousand sometimes you get 70 lambs a day and they had to be penned off for 48 hours because they could get smothered. The sheep sit on the lambs and all sorts of things. It’s just one of the things that happens.
“There are the low points in the middle of the night. That will be a relief, but it will be a bit upsetting not seeing the lambs out on the grass. When you have bred them yourself you look at them and think they are lovely. I have enjoyed the life. It’s a good way of life.”