We live on, and help manage, a Regenerative Farm in Devon. Regenerative Farming is a way of farming that works with nature to help tackle climate change and ecological collapse. Kim looks after the animals here, she has a degree in animal behaviour and welfare, and we pride ourselves on the welfare standards we adhere to. Lots of practises that we think are barbaric just don't happen here. Due to us helping to manage and not fully managing the Farm, not everything is in our control and sometimes decisions are made that we don't agree with. We understand the difficulty that comes with making decisions where animals are concerned and couldn't work anywhere where compassion wasn't at the heart of how things were done. That is the case at the Farm and, not letting perfect get in the way of good, the Farm's animals are probably some of the best looked after you'll find anywhere.

What constitutes high welfare though is very subjective. At the moment we are peering into the emotional maelstrom that is lambing, where huge swathes of time and energy are spent watching and worrying. We've had our first lambs and our first fatality. We've had to do something that we didn't agree with and pushed our moral boundaries, we've had to try to save a weak lamb.

Let's start this at the beginning, we believe that welfare starts with breeds and breeding. Massive, quick weight gain sheep just don't bloat our boat. Breeding specifically for monetary meat value is something we don't agree with. We understand why it happens, farmers were pushed into it after the war (that and spunking chemicals all over the land) by the government. The need for Farms to be big and deliver at volume to even dream of any kind profit has led to situation we are in. It's not the Farmers fault, it's the system. This is not to diminish personal responsibility but some of our friends farm in an intensive manner and really care about their animals.

For us though animals should be as self sufficient as possible, with the ability to lamb independently out in the field. Sheep do this naturally, or would do if we hadn't buggered about with their gene pools so much. Human meddling in animal business causes untold stress that prey animals such as sheep just aren't able to cope with very well. The sheep at the Farm are rare-breed primitives. They grow slowly, so eating lamb isn't an option, and they are massively independent. Farming animals like these is the future, in our eyes. We try to help the flock by mimicking nature as much as possible. We don't allow animals that show genetic weaknesses (such as an inability to give birth unaided) the chance to breed. We either keep them as part of the flock (to pass on their sheepy knowledge) or cull them for meat. This is what would happen to wild flocks. the weakest wouldn't survive and so any such genetics would die out. We believe that this is what should happen with lambs too. Why go to so much effort to not let Ewes with issues breed when you're going to try to save every weak lamb. Nature wouldn't do that and sheep prefer nature to human, its their language.

Humans struggle with this concept though, the need to save every single life overwhelms us. It's understandable, most people would choose to try to save a lamb that was struggling. What if by saving that one life though you inadvertently reduced its chances and subjected its family to untold stress which would also affect their wellbeing enormously? It's not so easy a decision then is it? Caught up in our individualistic ways, humans struggle to understand the needs of a flock and of flock animals. Taking a ewe, and her babies, out of the flock has vast repercussions, some of which we just don't understand. Yet farmers do this frequently to ensure the welfare of one young life. The stress and change of dynamics visited upon many lives is deemed necessary to save one. Nature, and sheep, don't think in this way and neither do Kim and I. It puts us at odds with most but we fervently believe in it.

When we gave birth to our Little Boy we came across the ideas and midwifery of Ina May Gaskin. A visionary in the birthing world who saw how poorly women were treated and how the male centric view of birthing caused more issues than it solved. We think that the same can be said of animal husbandry. Human centric views of life, death and welfare do more harm than good and little is done to truly understand the animals. There are people doing things differently though. All our animal interactions are informed by Temple Grandin techniques which understand how a prey animal thinks and how this can be used to move them around with very limited stress. We develop a bond of trust with the animals so that any procedures that are welfare issues can done with minimal stress.

What so pushed our boundaries this time though was to move three healthy looking lambs, and their mother, from a field with their flock into a building on their own. Triplets are seen as a risk in sheep farming, with some justification, and so a decision was taken to monitor them more closely, a decision that most farmers would have made. A decision rooted in compassion. A very difficult decision. It just felt wrong to us though and was stressful for all involved. I'm pretty sure that given a choice the lamb would have preferred to have spent its final days (if we didn't inadvertently cause its decline) in the field with its flock, siblings and mother ( or is that my humanising it). Its flock, sibling and mother would, I think, have chosen that too. Nature most certainly would have. Losing a lamb, or any life, is heartbreaking but sometimes as humans I think we do too much to save ourselves from that heartbreak.