Monday, March 17, 2008

Ewe don't say.

Popped round to see a friend for coffee. This being the country, this being spring, she was not in the kitchen, she was in the lambing shed. The sheep which had not yet given birth were milling around in an open area penned in by bales of straw; sheep which had given birth were in their own small enclosures with their lambs. I said to my friend: "How can you tell when they're ready to give birth?" She said: "Well look at that one." I said: "Which one?" She said: "That one." I looked at the sheep she was pointing at. She said: "You see. She looks "starey"." I said: "She looks like a sheep." It is not like there are any give away clues - no one was straddling a beanbag, sucking on ice chips or screaming for an epidural. They all seem to take it all quite calmly. In fact it was almost biblical. Sunshine fell through the open side of the barn where there was tranquility, warmth, new life and just a little bit of blood being spilled. Every now and then my friend who has a bad back would drop to her knees and I would think: "Is she going to say a prayer of thanksgiving?" Instead she would do something to the backside of an animal that made me think: "I am so not having another baby." At one point she tried to "put a lamb on" that is to say persuade a ewe to adopt an orphan, she eased aside the ewe's own lamb, wrangled the mother to the ground then knelt on her. She took hold of the orphan lamb, handed him up to me and said as if it was nothing very much: "Put him in the water trough up to his head would you?" I carried the long legged lamb across the straw carpetting the barn and over to the trough and ducked him under. I said: "Sorry mate." I just about resisted saying: "Do you renounce Satan and all his works?" I carried the dazed, wet bundle back and she smeared him with goo from the ewe and his "brother" lamb. I suppose that is what you call being born again.

19 comments:

girl with the mask said...

Fantasic. I must say though, I once bore witness to the birth of a lamb and it was quite magical. In gross, quite gooey sort of a way.

Love the blog- wondered if you might check out mine? www.amasktohidebehind.blogspot.com

G.I.M

softinthehead said...

Fascinating stuff, and so springlike and easter-y!

Norman said...

Ther's something magical about the lambin' you've got to be there to experience it. It's something you never quite forget.

CrazyCath said...

All in a day's work.

I like your parallels - born again indeed! *laughing*

Expatmum said...

You'll have to let us know whether the mother accepts him.

Maggie May said...

I loved this post! Hope the orphan was accepted.

Crystal Jigsaw said...

Why do all sheep farmers have bad backs? Our lambing starts this week and my back's not looking forward to it at all.

C xx

Sarah said...

Maybe some thought should be put into rearing longer legged sheep? Or what about the old birthing stool? something akin to a barstool, with a hole in one end and...No?
Okay, well, it is a jolly fine excuse to go for a massage!

Minx said...

I often wonder if they did that to me - never quite sure if I got the right children!

Pig in the Kitchen said...

oh amen! How lucky to be able to be so close to it all. I bet the lamb was thinking dark thoughts about you though. Now am I totally wrong in thinking you can skin a dead sheep, strap the skin onto an orphan lamb and have another ewe accept it? Did I read that in James Herriot a long time ago, or is the pit of my mind a very dark place?
Pigx

Stinking Billy said...

wifey, if and when you do go back down to London, you are going to find something missing after all your life & death experiences up here.

Throngs of foreigners on the pavements and traffic jams on the roads will have you yearning for the thing which matters most - reality.

But, we will wish you well. You brought a breath of fresh air with you when you came. A different viewpoint, and I'm sure it is appreciated by many if, perhaps, not all.

aims said...

I agree with Stinking Billy - you've become a country gal I think.....

A great post - of course anything to do with sheep I think is wonderful....

Pam said...

Seeing newborn lambs in spring is so lovely. Not so lovely though that it would prevent me from getting out the mint sauce.

lady thinker said...

It is fascinating too in that wee lambs have been gambolling around the fields of east Devon for 3 or 4 weeks now. It just goes to show far behind spring is 'oop north'

Swearing Mother said...

What a fab experience.

Bet you don't have lamb for lunch on Easter Sunday.

Mopsa said...

Pig, that skinning the dead lamb and putting onto a live one is no fiction! Musn't leave it on too long though or it stretches and the wee lamb trips over its extra coat! It also pongs. Lambing started here last night...

libby said...

We started lambing 3 weeks ago and still at it, next lot due mid April. Bad back yes, but it is the best time of the year, I love just sitting back on a bale and watching nature do its work. From helpless to standing, looking for the milk bar in about 15mins, truly amazing, in fact I think we humans could learn alot!! My best memory was last year when my "townie" friend was with us, her 10yr old was desperate for the lambs to be born, so he was in and out of the shed like a demented cuckoo. He came to me, "Aunty Libby, not sure but I think the sheep is having a lamb," to which his mother said, Oh don't be so dramatic!! Sure enough Misty was jut making an appearance, the kids faces were magical...it makes the sore backs and late nights all worth while.

farming-frenchstyle said...

There is nothing "magical" about lambing. It happens. Can work with my daughter and nod at a ewe"that one" and she knows which one. Wwhen I retire, I will not even chase a bit of lamb around a plate!

happyhippychick said...

Lovely

Takes me back to when I was a child and we had pigs and the wonder of watching them being born, although they always seemed to arrive in the middle of the night, but that's probably just because it was exciting being woken up in dark so it has stuck most in my memory