EASTER has brought mixed emotions to many North Devon sheep farmers as they round up their prime lambs for market and eventually for the butcher's slab.
They've nursed the stock through the wettest winter ever but now, to earn their living, have to send them to the abattoir.
Among them is farmer and haulier, Mervyn Way, who keeps 90 ewes in and around South Molton, and who was separating out his best lambs for the town's Maundy Thursday market:
"You get used to it," he said. "If you've got a passion for animals it's a way of life."
He admitted it's a difficult time: "I'm not so keen on this bit. But you can't keep everything. You need a young flock."
He had bright sunshine to bring in and weigh the lambs the night before the auction, then said he puts them back out into the field with the ewes overnight.
It's a calculated move. "We put them back with the mothers so they're not stressed and lose weight," said Mervyn.
A decent price for each lamb is the farmer's reward, and so far he's not been disappointed. The best lambs were making more than £105 at South Molton and Holsworthy markets.
He admits the sheep are more of a hobby, because he and his wife, Helen, and their family, run a business involving nearly 100 lorries and operating centres all over the country.
And Mervyn admitted he couldn't manage the lambs without help from some friendly neighbours, Dennis and Margaret Williams. "Without them it would be a struggle," he said.