Yes, it’s that time of year again. Lambing has started for us. We’re a lot later than last year. The reasons are largely economic. Early lambing is expensive. The ewes need more feeding to carry them through the winter, and once they’ve lambed they need more feeding to enable them to milk well enough to feed their lambs.
Alternatively you can just wait until later and let the grass grow, and that goes towards reducing the costs and the feed bill.
Obviously the price is normally better for earlier lambs, but last year it wasn’t. Last year I was tempted to seize the moral high ground and claim we were a not-for-profit enterprise. If we could get away with that we’d be able to ask people to donate on our webpage and they’d get a warm glow of smug self satisfaction as well.
Actually the way the weather is, it’s the only warm glow anybody is going to get. It’s one of the bizarre things about sheep that wet weather does get them lambing. Whether in some distant past predators would look out of their den, watch the rain blowing past in sheets, and mutter, “Blow this for a game of soldiers”, before curling back up and going back to sleep, I don’t know. But the minute the weather got wetter, the ewes started to lamb. We had the first outlier on Easter Sunday, nothing for a couple of days and then the deluge. In more ways than one.
I must admit I thought that with the fine fortnight we had, the ground had dried up a bit, but frankly that was an illusion. A couple of wet days and everything is back to standing water again. The water table must still be very high.
But the miracle of birth continues. Given it’s sheep we’re talking about it’s a miracle punctuated by ewes who decide somebody else had nice lambs so she wants those. Or she decides to skip the entire lambing business and just steal another ewe’s lambs. Or else she looks at her own lambs and just panics and flees.
One morning I went into the shed relatively early in the morning to discover about eight lambs and five ewes playing happy families. Given that they weren’t sure who belonged to whom, I’m not sure how I was expected to sort it out. It’s one of those occasions when you just want to quietly close the door and tiptoe away, leaving it for the Grown-ups to sort out.
Isn’t it a beggar when you discover that now, actually, you are the grown-up? Suddenly you realise that there isn’t much chance of a proper grown-up, you know, a more grown-up grown-up coming along, because it’ll still be you.
But anyway, if you like the picture, it’s a painting by a very talented lady, Pat Porter. She has a website which you might fancy a look at, it’s at http://www.patporter-art.net/