The Visitors

 

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This blog is dedicated to all of our wonderful family and friends who visit us on the farm.

We are blessed with good friends from around the world, and visitors are always anticipated keenly by the children. Our friend Maddalena had arrived, a woman who was used to the warmer climes of the Far East, and our wood burning stove was running low on firewood. All of our wood comes from managing the woodland on the farm – and early that morning I took our youngest, Felix, who had just turned 4, to get some more from the woodpile.

As we passed the lambing shed, I heard the calling of the ewes who had been recently run up from ‘in-by’ pasture. We bring the ewes in for lambing so that their lambs are less susceptible to the cold and the fox, and the long hours spent lambing are bearable for the shepherd. I had not yet checked the ewes that morning – it is normally the first job before breakfast, but visitors come first.

As I loaded the split logs into the Land-rover, Felix left to check the ewes. Felix is one of Nature’s farmers – always worried about the livestock, and a boy who would rather be outside with the animals than anywhere else. Within three minutes he was back, shouting with excitement that there were lambs in the shed.

I’m used to this. We were over two weeks away from lambing and, to a four year old, a lamb and a hogget can be interchangeable terms. I realised that he was talking about the ewe hoggets who were in lamb, so said something soothing about getting our house warm for the visitors and carried on loading logs. Felix went back to the lambing shed in apparent disgust.

As I finished loading, he returned and said, firmly, “You really MUST come and see the lambs”. I sighed, took his hand, and walked with him over to the shed. A quick look over the hurdles should do it, and we could be on our way.

I opened the gate and was confronted by a nervous looking ewe in the lambing pen along with some more visitors – brand new twin lambs.  Swearing under my breath I vaulted over the hurdles and quickly ran my hands over them. They had been born within the last 2 hours, both ewe lambs, and badly premature. I needed to dress their navels with Iodine and get jackets on them to keep them warm. I also needed to get them into a separate pen with their ewe to get them some peace and quiet away from the other ewes. And I needed to do it fast.

I looked up to see that Felix was already standing there with the crash box. We keep one next to the lambing pen, with all the emergency supplies you need for an unexpected lambing. 10% iodine was always kept in the crash box for treating the navels.

I thanked Felix, who merely muttered “I told you that you needed to see the lambs” before moving off to run his eye over the other ewes. I applied the Iodine on the navels, built a temporary pen out of spare hurdles and then gently encouraged the ewe to follow them into it. I checked the lamb’s temperatures – a little over 39 degrees centigrade, a good temperature considering the start they had had, and fitted them up with jackets to keep them warm. I filled the hay rack and left half a bucket of water for the ewe, knowing that she would be hungry and thirsty now that labour was over.

I left the shed with Felix, and we climbed into the Land-rover to drive the wood home. I thanked him for telling me about the lambs and made a mental not to listen more closely to Nature’s farmers next time. As I started the Land-rover, I felt a huge grin spreading over my face. Spring lambing had started with twin ewe lambs. More visitors. Life was good.

I looked over at Felix. He was grinning too.

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