There’s a lamb climbing out of the oven

I suppose a lamb climbing out of the oven isn’t major problem for most households, and indeed it isn’t a problem for us either to be honest. I’d even see it as a sign of success.
Our Rayburn, like others of its ilk, has a hot chamber below the oven. This is a useful facility, but especially at lambing time. The relative sizes of the oven and the lamb are such that a lamb placed on a flattened 750gm Kellogg’s Cornflake packet will just nicely slide into the hot chamber.
At this point you may be asking why? The answer is relatively simple. At lambing time, nature pretty well takes its course. A ewe will have one, ideally two, occasionally three, or far more rarely, four lambs. With singles, she’s normally on top of her game and they tend to be a biggish lamb anyway so there aren’t too many problems. Once you get to twins and triplets you can find that one or more of the lambs might be neglected or a bit slow.
So as soon as possible after they’re born, the lambs are checked out. Put a bit of iodine on the navel to stop infection creeping in and make sure they’ve got a feed of colostrum inside them.
Some lambs can just be a bit wet and cold; when you’re that size and born outside, exposure is a genuine risk. For them there is a plastic tub with some straw bedding, placed under a lamp. This will warm them up nicely, and some might spend a day or more in there before they’re strong enough to unite with a hopefully doting mother.
For some, more drastic measures are called for. We’ve put lambs in warm water before now, (not too warm, about 105F is supposed to be the top temperature) just to get their temperature up in a hurry.
Finally for others, there’s the Rayburn. It tends to be first thing in the morning when the Rayburn isn’t ‘turned up’ anyway so it is very pleasantly warm rather than getting ready to cook something.
Occasionally you have to take special measures. I remember one measure my father used when I was about eight or nine. When my parents were married back in the 1950s, amongst their wedding presents was a bottle of whisky, a bottle of rum and a bottle of gin. Well the gin went to make sloe gin. In Cumbria rum isn’t merely a drink, it is a major culinary ingredient. The rum bottle would disappear into rum butter and rum sauce in the first couple of years of their married life. But the Whisky just sat there, unopened and unheeded.
Until after breakfast one morning, the lamb in the oven wasn’t responding. So my father opened the whisky bottle, put a tiny drop of whisky onto an apostle spoon and used that to pour the whisky into the lamb’s mouth in a last desperate attempt to save the little mite.
It shivered a bit, coughed and died.
A couple of years later, an aunt of mine trapped her hand in a car door, and my mother hurried her into our kitchen, sat her down, and sent me to get the bottle of whisky (unused since the lamb incident.)
I brought it and my mum poured her sister some in a glass with some water. As my aunt drank it, I watched, with the callous intent of a ten year old, to see if she coughed and died as well.
So back to our lamb, lying on its cornflake packet; if it sits up, that’s good. If it actually manages to somehow wiggle out and end up on the kitchen floor, that is also good, (No matter what Jess, our elderly and three-legged Border Collie thinks.) But the best sign of all is when, once on the floor, it stands up and totters off under its own steam to find somewhere more interesting.
Note. Before welcoming these ovine perambulations it’s as well to remember that the lamb is not in anyway toilet trained and one should not encourage it to venture into areas that might be carpeted.

2 thoughts on “There’s a lamb climbing out of the oven

  1. M T McGuire February 11, 2013 at 4:14 pm Reply

    Thank you for the last bit… I was just about to ask if you had a flagstone floor! Phnark.

  2. jwebster2 February 11, 2013 at 4:34 pm Reply

    It used to be concrete but my mother managed to get them to put tiles down on it. Only took twenty years of married life to achieve 🙂

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