It’s amazing how rapidly moral principle can be overcome with simple greed. In a morning I go to feed sheep. I drive into the field on a quad bike towing a trailer and accompanied by Sal. Sal, as a border collie, has the silhouette of a small wolf and dentition any of the Canidae would be happy with. If sheep have in instinctive photofit of the apex predator to beware of, it’s got Sal’s paw prints all over it.
So the first time I do this we see sheep moving off at speed surrounded by their lambs. The second time I do it, some of the smarter ones have realised what I’m there for. By the end of the week they’ll tread Sal (and me) underfoot to get to the feed first.
It’s the same with the lambs. When you drive into the field, there’ll be a ewe grazing quietly. She’ll look up and bleat and her lambs will slowly disengage themselves from whatever they’re doing and make their way to join her. All except for the lambs of Number 39.
Number 39 had triplets. Now normally we take one lamb off and give it to a ewe who just had a single. This is because a ewe only has two teats, and even without this issue, frankly struggles to produce enough milk to feed three lambs. In the case of Number 39 there was a run of triplets and she was the one giving the most milk so she was left with hers.
So whereas other lambs wander off to do strange and interesting things, Number 39’s lambs stick with her, so they’re first at the teat should they feel a tad peckish.
Mind you it’s not something that is limited to sheep. My late mother and her two younger sisters would be invited to parties (we’re talking before the war here.) And hostesses were always touched and delighted by the way the two younger sisters wanted to sit next to their big sister. This was always pointed out as a charming example of sisterly love.
In reality the reason was that my mother never liked marzipan or almond paste. So whenever we had fruitcake with icing on it, she (even in her seventies) would quietly slip her icing and marzipan to her neighbour. Her two little sisters were just making damned sure that when that happened, they were going to be the recipients.