Spring Lambs

I went up to see Margaret the other day.  (In case you don’t know, Margaret farms the land on three sides of the Priory estate).  I hadn’t seen her for a while and, as well as having a natter and cadging a cup of tea, I had some bulbs to collect.  We  do joint orders for autumn and spring bulbs and it is generally easier to have deliveries made up to the farm rather than down to the Priory.  So, with the prospect of dahlia tubers, snowdrops-in-the-green, lily bulbs and some other stuff I couldn’t quite remember,  I bundled Solo (my terrier) into the car and pootled up the drive, through the Priory gate and along the road to Margaret’s farm.

I like going up to the farm anyway but it’s particularly nice at this time of year, as the ewes are lambing.  I always go over and have a look (wouldn’t you?).  Next to the cow-shed and beneath a wide roof, the ewes are corralled behind metal hurdles amongst bales of straw.  However many times I see new-born lambs, it’s always a delight.

Lambing, this year, has been fraught for Margaret.  The Schmallenberg virus, a new livestock disease, has arrived in England, carried in by midges from across the channel.  In sheep, it causes miscarriage and very nasty birth defects; no wonder Margaret was worried.  Thankfully it hasn’t affected her small flock, at least not this year.  Normally she really enjoys lambing season despite all the disrupted nights when (having checked her CCTV), she sees a ewe in labour and rushes outside in case a helping hand is required.  Sometimes she has to tug a bent-back leg into its correct position or use the small lambing rope to pull out a stuck newcomer.

But despite her best efforts, and for various reasons,  she has lost seven lambs this year (she didn’t lose any last year), and she told me that this has left a pall over what is usually a happy and exciting time.

A nap in warm sunshine. It might be classical music that is relaxing them. Margaret leaves a radio tuned in to Classic FM by the lambing pens.

Still, at least the  lambs that have been born are very healthy.  And certainly very pretty.

Sussex sheep learn to smile at a young age.

I have just ordered one of their one year old siblings for my freezer.  But I didn’t tell them that.

Last year I did a quick post of M’s spring lambs (see ‘ Gratuitous Lamb Photos’), only it was earlier in the year.  This was because a visiting workman noticed that one of M’s sheep had got separated from a nearby small group.  Obligingly he opened a gate to re-unite them.  The lone sheep though was, of course, a ram and purposefully kept apart (much to his displeasure and frustration) from the eye-lash batting, coquettish ewes.  The result?  Some lambs born a month earlier than Margaret had planned.  And a very self-satisfied, smug ram.

But this year there are no happy accidents, and the new arrivals will soon be scampering around the pasture between the farm and the Priory; making me smile.

Margaret could never be described as the shy, retiring, blushing type (unlike me) – so why she’s wearing this rather attractive and charming lamb veil is bemusing.  But it is fetching (and fashion-wise) very, very of the moment.  Might get one myself.

19 thoughts on “Spring Lambs

  1. They look beautiful, smiling lambs made me smile too (italian smiling sheep). Why are they numbered with such a bold colour? Maybe it’s the size they have marked on their back, so people can try its own lamb veil size without wasting time?


    • I think it is an incredible amount of work for Margaret … though she seems to flourish on it. The farm always seems to be busy when I visit; people buying eggs, various guys doing jobs about the place, the phone always ringing, dogs barking, cows moo-ing – you get the idea. Oh, and all to a background of classical music. D


  2. Those lambs looks so sweet! And easy enough to just think about spring flowering plants as a reminder of…well spring but then there’s lambing too. And good to see (half) the face behind the name 🙂


    • Hi Boys, Margaret wasn’t actually adverse to showing her face she was just showing off one of her new-borns. Despite all the daffs and the lambs it has seemed more like August here recently than March! D


  3. I’ve just found your blog and completely fallen in love with it. I’m entering a new phase in my life too. Nice to read about someone who has done it and is obviously so happy. I’ll be creating a new garden and I’m now enthused about creating a rose tunnel after seeing the one here.

    I adore honeysuckle so I’m sorry you had to remove yours. Lonicera Harlequin is a beautiful non invasive honeysuckle very attractive to bees and butterflies. I’m in Canada so I’m not sure if you have it in England. Happy Gardening.


    • Hi Susan, thank you so much for your lovely words. It is so encouraging to receive kind praise as I find blogging such a roller-coaster of loving it and then finding it a terrific consumer of time and energy and enthusiasm – all three of which I’m currently lacking! Thank you again – your comments couldn’t have come at a better time. Happy gardening indeed. Dave


  4. No wonder Sussex sheep learn to smile so young, if they’re all living the life of Riley like that. Classical music to listen to, sunny places to sleep off their breakfasts – very nice. Poor Margaret, though, losing seven – that has to hurt. I’m thinking the veil is spring fashion only. It could get a little too heavy to carry around by summer.


    • Margaret thinks that she lost so many partly because some of the ewes are getting on a bit. I was there one day when the vet was ‘putting down’ a ewe. Very sad – I didn’t hang around to watch and hurried away! D


  5. Hmmmm…I’n NOT convinced that lamb beards are going to catch on you know. There’s nothing worse than a lambs leg dangling in ones weetabix at breakfast. I’m going to stick with my George Michael-look for now if it’s all the same with you.
    You may wish to let Margaret know that lambs & felt-tip-pens is not a good idea either. That said, they are cuter than a cute thing that’s very cute on a cute day. I could use one as a pet lawn-mower.:-)


  6. Great photos that brought a smile to my face. Lambs are very cute and it’s great seeing them gambolling around the fields here in Wales. It must be a very stressful time for farmers though anyway, without the added problem of this new virus. I guess we’ll have to expect more things like this though as our climate changes. Like the idea of the lamb veil but only if they come rose or lavender scented, I’m not sure farmyard is a scent I’d like quite so close to my nose!!


    • A sheep farmer once told me that sheep are born just to die and that it was one long, hard slog to stop them doing just that. With this new virus the struggle just got harder still. D


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