As with all hill farms, November is a month for preparation at Geltsdale reserve. The rams or tups as they are known here in the North Pennines have been put to the ewes and the timing now will determine the week lambing will begin in April. With luck, grass on the lower in-bye land will have begun to grow again by then and give the ewes a boost when they need it most. Twelve amorous tups will serve 500 Scottish Blackface ewes over the coming weeks and a watchful eye is required to see they don’t succumb to over excursion.

Meanwhile preparation for the forthcoming wading bird breeding season is well under way. Some areas of rush have already been cut to open up the grassland in strategic areas, and this will continue when the weather allows. Waterlogged fields have been a feature for much of autumn and this has made working conditions extremely difficult. A prolonged dry period or a series of hard frosts is required now to allow machinery to get to the areas we wish to get cut. Three new SITA funded scrapes will be excavated next week as part of a project to improve conditions for lapwing following the disastrous breeding season this year.