I took big lamb and little lamb to the abattoir yesterday. I was stoic all through the hitching of the trailer, backing it up to the field, leading them in and driving to the destination. I unloaded them into their holding pen, signed the paperwork, put the ramp up on the trailer, drove out of the yard (out of sight of the workers) and just started sobbing my heart out. I kept driving but couldn't stop crying.
Mike said "Jen, let's just turn around and go get them. They can live in the field with the others." I wanted to, but I didn't. I knew what they were for when I raised them, I knew it would be hard, and I knew that they had a good (and longer than normal) life. But I didn't like it. Mike offered to go back 3 or 4 times on the way home (he was sad too). But we didn't.
We're picking up our first home reared, grass-fed lamb for the freezer on Thursday.
Between sobs, I said to Mike "I bet real farmers don't cry". Mike said "I'll tell you something. As you were backing up the trailer for unloading I said to the guy 'Go easy on her mate, these are her first lambs and she might get upset.' And do you know what he said? He said 'Trust me, she wouldn't be the first.'"
I guess you have to love animals to want to raise them and care for them in the first place.
Our two new orphans seem to be managing their first week of life. Temperatures have plummeted and there's a fierce wind about, so I've kept the heat lamp in their shed on permanently so they can convert their food into growth rather than just keeping warm. I open the door to the run for a few hours a day, for fresh air and some extra space. Some of the chickens perch on their run, and the lambs come over to investigate. So far so good. We're calling around to see if any more orphan ewes need a home, as we'd like to have at least 3 lambs around the same age.
We're on holiday this week but pretty tied to the house with animal commitments. But Mike promised to take me fly fishing at Dever Springs tomorrow. It's a world renowned trout lake, about 2 hours from here, and our friend Neil is the head keeper. Neil has promised me a fly fishing lesson and I'd hate to miss the opportunity. The lambs still need a feed every 4 hours so they're coming with us in a dog crate in the back seat of the car. A bit of fishing, a quick lunch for us and the lambs, a bit more fishing, then home for evening chores.
I bet real farmers don't take their lambs fishing either. I won't tell them if you don't.