Suffolk’s Seaside Shepherd: On Orford Ness in May


Andrew Capell with lambAndrew Capell is a Shepherd working for the National Trust at Orford Ness and other sites on the Suffolk coast.  Andrew has been looking after sheep for over 30 years and he currently cares for the flock of over 100 as well as working with the sheep to maximise habitat conservation on the Ness, Europe's largest vegetated shingle spit...................


May is a busy month for me with the sheep, we are half way through lambing and so far we have 7 sheep with 14 lambs so doing well at 200%. The sheep lamb a bit later here as we lamb outside and tend to let them get on with it. We put them in to a pen with the new lambs for just 24 hours so we can see all is well, mother has bonded and lambs are feeding. This is our 3rd lambing here on the Ness and it’s just been a try out to see how well it works and what sort of grazing the ewes and lambs do. In a few weeks' time the lambs will get a taste for grass and will do a lot of good work keeping it well grazed. Next year we are going to focus on 3 of our breeds so I am on the look out for some woodland, manx and heb ewes and 2 new rams. We will be going from just a dozen sheep lambing this year to about 60 next year. A little bit more work but lambing is just the best time of the year. With having some younger sheep about it will give me a few to pick from to take to the Suffolk show. Having been there the last 2 years our sheep are just a bit too old this time so we will give it a miss this year but will be back in 2017 with some nice sheep I hope.

Baby Lapwing 2

The sheep are not the only things on site with young now, lots of birds are on nests and our first ducklings and lapwing chicks have been seen. And as always, there are lots of little rabbits about too. Even on a wet day like today it's so nice to look out of the window as I write this to see the birds flying about and the rabbits hopping around.



Black Bunny 1


May also sees the IMG_2446start of shearing, not as fun as lambing but it’s a job to be done. I don’t rush,

I like to take my time and get the fleece off in one piece to leave the sheep looking smart and not like I need to go to specsavers ( other opticians are available ). The wool we get off the sheep I try and sell to local spinners which then helps to pay for the rest to go to the wool marketing board. With the breeds of sheep we have we don’t get much for it, so little in fact that it doesn't cover the transport so any I can sell before hand helps.

After all the lambing and the shearing I tend to take half term week off for a rest but I will spend  3 days at the Suffolk show looking at sheep and catching up with shepherd friends.  Some may say it’s the highlight of my year lol