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The Voices from the Archives series is based on recordings in the Oral History Archive at St Fagans National History Museum. Connected to the agricultural activities, demonstrations and displays at the Museum - they provide an insight into the lives and histories of farming people, the agricultural practices in the past, how they developed into contemporary agriculture.

Lambing in Pembrokeshire, 1984

March is lambing time at Llwyn-yr-eos Farm, the Museum’s working farm. Lambing in the past and present was described by Richard James, Portfield Gate, Pembrokeshire, south west Wales, in a recording made in 1984. Aged 79, he recalled lambing in an interview about his life in farming, but also described how it was being done on a farm in the area in the year of the interview. The following short clips are from the recording.

Pembrokeshire born and bred, Richard James had farmed at Lambston Sutton in the south west of the county. It stood between the large county town of Haverfordwest a few miles to the east, and the coastline of St Bride’s Bay to the west. The lowland coastal areas, warmer climate and lower rainfall made agriculture more diverse than in many other parts of Wales, with the keeping cattle and sheep and the growing of early potatoes and cereal crops. The coastal areas could be exposed to the winds and rain from the Atlantic Ocean though, and weather conditions could strongly influence lambing, to which Richard James refers in the first clip:


Richard James, Portfield Gate, Pembrokeshire


When lambing was to take place was decided by when the ewes were put to the rams. Up until then the rams on the farm had to be kept separate from the sheep. It was always a concern that rams might break through a poor fence or hedge and cause lambing to start at the wrong time. Also, a ram of poorer quality or a different breed from another flock could also result in poorer quality lambs and reduced income. After mating, a ewe is pregnant for between 142 and 152 days, approximately five months or slightly shorter.

In this clip, Richard James describes at what time of year lambing took place on a local farm, and how it was being done by a farmer using a former aircraft hangar.

Richard James, Portfield Gate, Pembrokeshire

The final clip is about working the day and night shifts:

Richard James, Portfield Gate, Pembrokeshire



David Thomas late of West Lambston
3 May 2020, 20:46
Having lived most of my life in and near West Lambston I remember Dick very well. All the neybers used to work together at hay &
harvest times. And Dick & Harry his brother was one of our team. I remember Dick coming help use the hue the turnips & mangals
& helping with the threshing also in about the end of August to mow the corn to dry the sheves out before taking them into the haggard
& stack for the winter. As Don was saying Dick was quite a character.
Don and Glenys Evans,Glendon Lodge, Crundale, Hav erfordwest.
30 April 2020, 16:54
Having spent five years of my early life living with my parents at Hillside, Portfield Gate,that was next door to the Perry arms, I recall very well Mr Dick James. visiting the Penry on a regular basis. He was a great character and known to everyone. Good old days. Don Evans.
Neil Morgan
30 April 2020, 13:41
What a lovely footnote.
Mike Hemingway
30 April 2020, 10:57
Dick James used to farm on Sutton Mountain, with his brothers. One of which was Manley James, the blacksmith from Broadway, Dick used to go to the Penry Arms, in Portfield Gate, and leave his tractor parked up in the Landlords parking space, which always caused a riot. Dick didn't give a monkeys. He was one of the last of his breed, and a character.

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