Five signs your sheep is lambing
- She’s on her own
- She can’t settle
- She’s pawing the ground and maybe walking in circles
- Tilting head backwards
- Straining and grunting with bits of lamb sticking out of her rear (no shit Sherlock!)
Consider this – you never see a dead sheep right out in the middle of a field. Oh no they always like to go off into corners to die give birth. They do this on purpose just to irritate the kindly humans who, with their best interests at heart, are traipsing around the field checking up on them at all hours of the day and night.
I had Liz Lochead in the front of my car this evening. Actually that’s not strictly true. I had Liz Lochead in the front of the-mother-in-laws car. Our own car smells too strongly of petrol and dog for me to invite Scotland’s premier poet into its putrid interior. The authors arrived en-masse today and my Dad and I had the pleasure of meeting Liz (first name terms already), Sophie Cooke and Kenneth Steven. All of whom seemed rather lovely. They also seemed gratifyingly impressed by Colonsay’s scenary. This island had pulled out all the stops. The sun was shining and the sea was sparkling. As poor Liz struggled out of the car where I had parked it jauntily on top of a small hillock she turned to look at the view out over the pier and even I, jaded as I am, had to admit it was rather spectacular. After a few minutes of conversation in which I developed dreadful verbal diarrhoea and may have appeared like a cross between a star struck school girl and a tour guide on speed I ditched the celebs and headed back around the island. (I’m missing out the part where I almost drove the-mother-in-law’s Micra into a Landrover!).
I pulled up about half a mile from our house. I removed my Uggs and replaced them with wellies, zipped up my Barbour (real croftesses can’t afford Barbour but I had one left over from my previous life). Stowed my iphone safely in my pocket (even Croftesses need a smartphone) and headed off around the sheep.
Going around the sheep is a tricky business. It’s not like going for a walk. You have to pay attention. You can’t just wander around blogging in your head and thinking about how beautiful the scenery is. You must look out for five signs above. As I wandered the hillside (limping in a slightly pregnant fashion, I have a strange (hopefully not pregnancy related back injury)), inhaling the crisp sea air and admiring what will soon be our amazing view, and writing this blog in my head I heard bleating coming from the other side of the hill. I sneaked up to the top and looked down onto Sally lamb’s mother and brothers. They were calling to her wanting her to stop and feed them. She obliged and they tucked themselves underneath, one on each side and started feeding vigorously tails wagging furiously. I raised my iphone to take a picture (camera still defunct!) and the battery ran out!
“Oh well” I thought to myself, “never mind the flat battery, there’s not much going on anyway.” As I crested the last rise and was about to begin my (limpy) journey home I spied a sheep with some rather unpleasant substance dripping from her rear. My first thought was dread. Here I was out in the middle of nowhere a potential lambing emergency afoot with no phone signal to call for help, I didn’t even have any 3G for looking up lambing guidelines on the internet. I took a different route around the hillock and came upon her from another angle. A tiny lamb, brand new and dripping wet was just staggering to its feet and searching (rather haplessly I might add) for its mothers udder. I have seen hundreds of lambs being born. I’ve watched my parents up to their elbows in farmyard animals and have seen the highs and lows of lambing. None of this stopped me from misting up a little over this baby though. I didn’t go any closer. I didn’t want to interrupt its first feed. So the pleasant job of catching it, spraypainting it, putting a ring on its tail and dealing with its testicles (if it has any) can all be left for Allan tomorrow. He’s the real crofter afterall.
I met Allan at the gate – he’d been doing some sort of weird GPS stuff. It was only after I had given him a long and detailed description of our new lamb that he pointed out that this was the first thing I had thought to mention – not the fact that I had been chatting with a famous author only an hour before. Maybe I am a real crofter too.