Friday, 5 February 2010

New Arrivals

We got the call yesterday to come and collect some orphan ewe lambs from our neighbours. They keep a prize-winning flock of Polled Dorsets so I was excited to be starting with such pedigreed stock. Over-excited really, as I got the call at noon but had to wait til 5pm to pick them up. Mike rolled his eyes at me while I did a little dance and busied myself with getting their new home ready - the whelping kennel behind the house. By the time we were ready to go I composed myself and put on an aloof, pragmatic air so our farmer neighbours knew they were dealing with a serious stockman here.

That working for about a millisecond, until we walked past the pens of newborn calves. I resisted petting the livestock but couldn't help making girly comments about how cute they were, all fluffy and clean. More eye rolling from Mike, joined by the farmer. Then we entered the lambing barn. Oh. My. God. I think I said something like "How freakin' CUTE are THEY?!?! And proceeded to manhandle as many lambs as I could reach.

I'm pretty sure my serious stockman credibility is blown.

If that didn't do it, this probably did:
The farmer looked amused when I said they could ride home in my lap (I didn't want them to get cold and lonely riding in the back). On the way home I named them Pearl and Ivy.

They needed a feed when we got home. Especially Ivy who had been rejected by her foster mother and hadn't been allowed to feed properly. I put them on the kitchen floor while I mixed their milk.

They are so tiny. And they have a sort of 'new baby smell' which, combined with the sweet smell of the lamb milk powder, is intoxicating and primitive.

Ivy is the eater, and hit her bottle with reckless abandon. Pearl was resistant to the bottle and probably preferred her milk direct from the source. But she'll learn.

Close-up of Pearl. Seriously, how cute is that face?

I was up at 6 this morning to give them their first feed, and check on them after their first night in the shed. They were dry and warm, and bleating softly when I opened the door. It was so dark I was feeding them by flashlight, holding it in my mouth so I had two hands free to wrestle lambs and bottles. Again, Ivy was keen to drink. Pearl needed persuading but she managed to feed.

The sun's not quite up yet, but the fire's going and the dogs have had their breakfast and I've got my first cup of coffee. I might go have a read though the guide for new moms, Practical Sheep Keeping and dream of first place ribbons at the county show.

Proud mom


  1. C-U-T-E!! Aw c'mon, are you telling me serious stockmen never think anything's adorable? They must, but probably just don't say it out loud. Or let lambs ride on their laps. Or gush over them ceaselessly. Or name them immediately... It's OK for women to lose their farmer cred around baby animals. It's probably biological even.

    Weird aside...I just woke up from a dream that I was a new mom of two puppies (one of them kept switching back and forth from human to canine) and now first thing I read (yes, I check your blog religiously) is that you're a new mom of two animals. Cool.

  2. When they are that cute, it's hard to think about how tasty they are.....piglets are too cute for bacon, too.

    I should think that it's a long, hard, rocky road from warm heart at their cuteness to happy tummy at its fullness. I wonder how people do it, I really do. I'm thinking about chickens and rabbits, but am unsure that I can 'off' them. I have no problem with dead animals, once they start looking like meat, but how do you get from on the hoof to on the table without becoming a wreck?

    Good luck with the girls, and your ribbon. Would you keep them for breeding stock, instead, since they're so pedigreed?

  3. Oh Wow Jen!! You lucky thing. And ewe lambs too!! Yes that smell is fantastic isn't it. Joint first place surely!!

  4. Those lambs are so cute, and so early compared with up here. I was speaking to a farmer friend the other day and she said their lambs are not due until march/april! Hope you realise how hard it is going to be to ‘part’ with them when they are ‘ready for their final destination’. But still cute!

  5. Sara - Interesting it because we talked about having a clean house vs. having pets / offspring? Maybe it got your subconscious mind thinking.

    I think there is something biological about the appeal of baby animals (humans included). Even smell. Puppies, sheep, they all have a new baby smell that that compels you to care for them.

    I hope we have at least once more ewe orphan coming. Already have a name picked out :)

  6. Paula - You hit on the essence of what it is to be a meat eater. I think we all struggle with the responsibility of raising or choosing meat for the table. Some begome vegetarian, some become small farmers, most of us fall in between. It's such a personal choice.

    I found chickens were a good starting place, email if I can help with any advice.

  7. Colette - Nice to have ewes for a change. And the smell IS great...

    MCD - The polled dorset are a unique breed and can lamb quite early, from what I understand. The farmer makes a premium on having an early lamb ready for the spring market.

    These are ewes so they'll be breeding stock, not for the freezer so I can really open my heart to them. My last 2 orphans were wethers, and it's with a heavy heart I'm taking them to the abattoir tomorrow.

  8. That cuteness thing is a slippery slope, Jen. Before you know it, you'll have a Bichon Frise and a collection of porcelain figurines.

  9. I just want to know if you drove off with the mug on the roof of the truck...

  10. Tamar - I'm leaning towards Hummels...or Ann Geddes prints...

    Kerry - Trick photo. That was us arriving home, post journey. I had already embarassed myself enough in front of the farmer so waited til I got home for photo op.

  11. Ohhhhhh..they are too cute! I hope they are doing well in their new home, growing by the day I suspect..