Yesterday I started lambing – at 5.15am precisely!
The weather couldn’t have been better, gentle, mild and, most importantly, dry. Three ewes got on with the business almost simultaneously.
Last autumn I made the decision to sell a large proportion of my flock. My sheep were finding it harder and harder to manage on our land as a result of two unprecedented wet years. If summer was a problem, winter was going to be worse.
I kept back a nucleus of flock-aged ewes and a dozen ewe lambs just in case. You see my sheep, being a hill breed, are hefted, or leared, onto my land and are familiar with my system; if I go back into sheep farming it’s vital that years of flock knowledge isn’t lost.
One of the ewes I kept back was Dot, the wise old matriarch and also a pair of her two-tooth twins, known as the Tails – 1 and 2. I would like to say I kept their tails long so they could be easily identified, though in truth it was one of those lambing-exhaustion oversights. Still it’s been useful, as they weren’t sold and didn’t go for meat. I was hoping they had inherited some of their mother’s exceptional genetic traits.
Tail 1 lambed today. She handled her labour skilfully and calmly, giving birth to the first of her twins standing up. Without hesitation she set about cleaning her baby, nickering and mumbling to her with total concertration and tenderness; she manoeuvred herself into an easy-udder-access position as soon as her lamb began to nuzzle search for the teat. Once her first newborn had sucked and was belly-full warm, she got on with giving birth to the second twin, taking just as much care as well as maintaining contact and giving reassurance to the first. What a first lamber! The beginning of ‘Dot’s Dynasty’ (yes, Tail 1’s twins are ewe lambs)!