An eleven-year-old Jedburgh shepherdess prefers lambing to schooling

Eleven-year-old Jedburgh shepherdess Kirsty Turnbull will head back to school next week with a heavy heart.

Monday, 8th March 2021, 1:24 pm
Kirsty with her flock. (Photo: BILL McBURNIE)

It’s not that the youngster hasn’t missed her pals and the staff at Jedburgh Grammar Campus.

But the return just happens to coincide with the lambing season and Kirsty’s mad keen to be in the thick of the action.

Everyday she gets up at 6am to help her dad Steven look after the lambs at Larkhall Farm, where she lives with mum Claire, headteacher at Wilton Primary School in Hawick, and little brother Scott, seven.

Kirsty down on the farm. (Bill McBurnie)

Kirsty, who looks after her own flock of North Country Cheviot sheep, which have the prefix “Dunion”, returns to her studies next Monday as lockdown restrictions are eased.

She said: “I’d prefer that school started after Easter so I could get involved in the lambing. I’ve always been involved with the sheep since I was little and I really enjoy looking after them.

"I don’t think my friends get up as early as me. I like school but I don’t like missing lambing.”

Dad Steven, who has ran the farm for five years, said: “Kirsty is mad-keen on sheep and does a heck of a lot of work.

Kirsty down on the farm. (Bill McBurnie)

"She is up at six in the morning before the school bus comes and is straight off the school bus at night and along the track to help.

"She’s been up at the sheds with me most of the time when school has been off and has started lambing herself as well, so she’s a good help.

"Sadly she’s going to school in the middle of lambing and she will be a huge miss but she’ll get the hoggs to lamb in the school holidays.”

Larkhall, a 200-acre farm, was expecting the arrival of 400 ewes today, Monday, March 8, and 85 hoggs tupped with a Beltex are due during school holidays.

Kirsty gets up at 6am. (Photo: Bill McBurnie)

The flock consists of pedigree North Country Cheviot park-types, the prefix of which is "Jethart", and also rams and females not kept for stock but sold to breeders, with many exported to Ireland in recent years.

Steven, who is also sales and marketing manager with Davidsons Animal Feeds in North Lanarkshire, added: “We select a small number to turn out at local shows throughout the summer and we’re looking forward to these events getting started again soon hopefully.

“We have a commercial flock of Cheviot mules tupped with a Texel and Texel mules tupped with a Beltex X. The majority of those lambs will be sold off grass in late June/July for meat and Briggsy’s, the local butcher, gets a regular supply from these as well.

“We have lambs that go into the food chain that the local butcher takes off us. I think there is a bit of shop local/buy British going on. You don’t get more local than being born at the 30 mile limits at Jedburgh and in the butcher’s shop down the high street and it’s pretty environmentally friendly as well.

"The pandemic has been challenging for farmers and worrying but we have been very lucky that people have come to buying local, buying British and maybe not going abroad, and we have had a wee bit of a turnaround with that which is nice for a change because it is quite tough making any money being a farmer.

"It’s been a decent year for us compared to other people. We have been fortunate.

"We’re all struggling not being able to get out but we are really lucky that we have a farm on our doorstep and we have plenty to do, so we are never shut in the house or confined to the garden and we are mindful of and grateful for that too.”