We started lambing in a sea of mud and three weeks later temperatures soared to the highest UK levels recorded in April for 70 years.

Lambing percentages are up. This can be a two edged sword because triplets create extra work when you least need it. Whatever your numbers or system, there’s no denying lambing time is hard work. It’s enjoyable but tiring, I know that I get ratty when I’m completely absorbed in sheep work, and I get asked “What are we going to eat for dinner tonight?” During lambing, sheep take precedence and even the Londonites have learned to rally around. Sharing the caring makes family farming more fun and rewarding.

I love the different sheep characters that emerge. The Suffolk crosses are sensible: nothing fazes them. They remind me of Labradors because they are insatiably greedy and will do anything for food. Mules make good mothers but with over protective tendencies. One surprised our vet student with a robust bunt. This was a student from Birmingham, whose previous animal experience consisted of helping at a hedgehog sanctuary. She did well and was astounded by our ewe lambs’ crazy reactions to motherhood. I explained “first timers” can be unpredictable. I hope my daughter doesn’t display any of these traits this summer when she has our first grandchild.
Over Easter we had a full house. My daughter – who started cake making – was indignant when she discovered a depleted egg supply. I told her to hunt around the farmyard. My four remaining old hens, are as clever at hiding where they lay their eggs, as they are wily about evading the fox.

Luckily our egg hunt was successful. Later, attired in farm clothing, I popped to the shops to buy some chocolate Easter eggs. Randomly a gentleman viewed my trolley and asked whether he could accompany me home! “If you like working with sheep, you’re welcome,” I replied. He rapidly changed his mind!

Sheep psyche is hard to comprehend. I’ve just done ten laps around the garden – not marathon training but attempting to catch a most ungrateful lamb. Perhaps I should explain that our garden acts as a temporary sick bay. Here they can browse on bay leaves, nibble rosemary, shelter in the barbecue and lounge on the patio. The lamb is a twin and it looks like a hat rack. By contrast, his sibling is flourishing and definitely mother’s favourite. The annoying lamb plays hard to catch but sucks so strongly it collapses the bottle. It refuses to drink milk unless it’s standing beside its mother, whom we’ve discovered has mastitis.

I’d like to catch up with the scumbags that visited our farm Easter Sunday and who were brazen enough to return on Easter Monday. I know rural crime is increasing, but was shocked when our farm was targeted. As farmers we are all at risk: please be vigilant. Rising insurance claims equate to higher premiums – it’s going to affect us all. My vocabulary doesn’t extend to enough bad words to describe my feelings towards these people who snoop around our property and take what we’ve worked and paid for. What’s more, our machinery are not items that we have for fun: these are work tools needed for farming and their disappearance impacts our animals.

Our farm gates are locked every night, but thieves don’t enter via the most obvious route. The intruders parked in our neighbour’s field and came through a hedge into our buildings: our main gates remained locked. Being lambing time, the sheep are in the sheds at night and out by day. Vulnerable machinery is padlocked inside our grain store. My husband and I were working with the sheep until 1.30am. Nigel went up to the lambing shed at 4am and noticed the grain store door open and the padlock missing. He woke us up to tell us. We were so sleepy that we couldn’t even remember if we’d locked up.

Nigel most likely disturbed them. We didn’t hear dogs barking and the security lights were working. We were lucky as nothing was taken. In daylight, we found our padlock in the hedge. It had been ripped apart. These thieves are not random opportunists. They were organised criminals. Scarily they seemed to know where to look.
We were not alone because neighbouring farms were also invaded. A quad bike was stolen at about 00.30 hours. The police were called and attended quickly but didn’t manage to track them down. Rural policing is under funded which doesn’t help. Meanwhile, the intruders were busy systematically visiting other farms within a mile radius. Chain-saws and small tools were taken.

On Easter Monday, we bought new padlocks and our doors were beefed up. In the evening our very noisy and ancient Matbro was strategically parked across the doors. I thought it was overkill. But this action saved our mule. When we’d finished our midnight lambing duties, I noticed another ewe starting to lamb. We turned out the lights and went indoors for a drink. I returned alone to the shed and ended up lambing down the ewe. While doing this I heard a strange noise. I felt frightened and vulnerable, but I told myself I was being neurotic. I finished my task, settled her into a pen and went to bed.

They had indeed returned and had stolen a neighbour’s mule. It’s a worrying state of affairs. We’re now like jailers, barricading gateways and locking doors. It’s time consuming and inconvenient. A local crime watch Whatsapp group has been started so that we can alert other farmers about suspicious activity. There is greater strength and support if we band together. Our local lamb auctioneer told me about a sign he’d read, which I’m tempted to use. “Do you believe in life after death? Break in and find out!”