On Saturday the rain hurled rods and sleet flung stinging shot; the wind whipped and howled, crashing and banging anything and everything with vandalistic glee; the fields ran and sighed with cold clay water – and I lost a lamb. She died from pasteurella. She was bonny, big and strong; she and her sister were some of the first lambs to be born.

I’d been up in the top yard checking the buildings were holding out, and the ewes and lambs hadn’t succumbed to drowning or hypothermia. Surprisingly everyone was okay though a mite wet and bedraggled; the ewes had sensibly brought most of the youngest lambs into shelter. Returning back down to the farmhouse Robert made some remark about the water supply and so couple of hours later I went back up to check all was well. And there she was, dead. Pasteurella is that sudden. It’s a bacterium, p. heamolytica, which leads to severe pneumonia. I’ve never had a case before on this farm. They say if you’ve had one probably more will follow so I’ve been keeping an ever watchful eye on the flock and…I dare say no more.

But what a difference a day makes.  It was time to move Dot, her offspring and a couple of other ewes and lambs up to rejoin the main flock.  Walking them slowly up the hill to the Rutleighs I felt and smelt a balmier air.  A definite stirring. The verges along the lane had erupted with the crumpled unfurling of cow parsley and hog weed.  Down in the dip the pungent cat’s pee smell of wild currant mixed with earthy watery dampness. Primroses cover the hedge banks and nestled in a sheltered mossy hollow I found the first shy violet. Promise…

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