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.