|Our current view - mutton stressed with lambs!|
Wednesday, 21 September 2011
It’s Spring! The days are getting longer, the grass is growing and there are literally hundreds of lambs hatching just 10 metres from our container.
I have to admit that this has been a bit of a shock. We have always been surrounded by paddocks, but at our previous home these were used for dairy cows, none of which were giving birth on our doorstep. But on the warm spring days it’s a joy to see brand new, very scrawny, damp lambs, dry out, drink and look very cute very quickly.
The paddock directly behind our native trees is for those ewes bearing twins, the paddock behind and to the left for triplets and there have even been a few sets of quadruplets born this year-in the triplet paddock.
The shock began on a weekend when I was on my own, up on the new house roof painting the fascia boards. I could see a new lamb in the paddock behind calling and calling for his mum, with no answering cry to be heard. I listened for an hour or two, then called Roger Barton and left a message - sounding like an anxious ‘lifestyler’. After another few hours of the little guy calling and being pushed away by all the ewes he thought might be his mum, I jumped in the car and went down the road to report the unfolding tragedy to Roger. He calmly promised to investigate later.
I found it incredibly hard listening and watching this wee thing calling and searching for his mum; he was so new that I don’t think he had even had a first drink.
Roger and Barbie appeared some time in the afternoon, very quickly ascertained that a new mum in another paddock was missing a youngster (the lamb had squeezed through the dividing fence) and put two and two together - literally. A happy ending.
Later the same week we were blessed with a good old Wairarapa southerly, one which brought hailstones that stayed for hours! I got home from work and did the chores accompanied by the hopeful bleating of lambs, most of whom soon found their respective mothers. They had a feed, and then bedded down for the night, tucked up tight with their mums and siblings in the shelter of the trees.
However, one young ’un called for what seemed like hours, and there was no responding call from a searching mother. He had been tagged and marked so was not brand new but seemed very small and unprotected in the cold, wet evening. I called Roger to see if there was anything I could do, hoping that he’d rush to the paddock like a knight on a quad bike as before, find the mother, pair them up and all would end happily ever after. Instead, he pointed out the he had been on his rounds a couple of hours earlier and nothing was amiss.
Unassured, I had a very careful search around the paddock in case mum was unable to respond, but that wasn’t the case. Utterly convinced that the little lamb wouldn’t survive the freezing night alone, and struck by the unfairness of it having a mother who couldn’t count, I burst into tears. Al was working late, and my next couple of hours were spent alone in the container with the stereo on and the windows shut so that I could no longer hear the plaintive calling.
Morning dawned to silence, but there was no wee body in the paddock either - so I comfort myself with the hope that his mum came and found him at last - and all was well.
I have since realised that there is nothing that can be done, life and death is part and parcel of farming life, sheep mothers know what they are doing and can usually be trusted to take good care of their offspring. For someone who, as a child, wanted to bring all the animals inside when it was raining, I just need harden up!