Dear Reader, I do apologise for the break in transmission. I’ll be honest, I have been putting off writing this post as the past two weeks have had some serious ups and bottomless downs unfortunately and my birthday in between. We are all exhausted here at Margot and Jerry HQ. Raising orphan lambs is no picnic. Not only is there relentless bottle feeding and checking to be done but lambs (as I was told by so many farmers) have a desire to snuff it lurking around every corner and ours have certainly tried to prove that fact.
When we started out, we had a tiny scrawny black faced lamb (our Suffolk cross dubbed Blackie….I know original isn’t it?!) that was struggling to bottle feed and it took us a week or so to get him sucking as well as to cure his awful bowels. Poor chap was in a dreadful state but perked up with round the clock care and gentle persuasion. He now follows us all like a little puppy and is most put out when you don’t stop to pat him on your way to filling up the feed trough.
No sooner had Blackie been nursed back to reasonable health, then crisis hit with our fattest lamb. Sadly, he took a serious nose dive towards the pearly gates of sheepy heaven and the last two weeks have been pretty awful waiting for him to either turn the corner or become lunch for the hounds at the local hunt kennels.
Multivitamin shots, drenches, antibiotics and painkillers later as well as a sojourn in the kitchen (you can imagine how pleased Monty was, having to share his new kitchen with a smelly bleating lamb for 24 hours) and he seems to be on the mend, slowly but surely. In the meantime, I have read up on every single mysterious sheep disease, parasitic infestation and malady known to the farming community, learned how to use a drench gun and even performed not one but several sheep enemas…..seriously beyond the call of farming duty surely?! It’s a far cry from the kaftans and heels of my former life, I can tell you dear Reader.
Feeding every two to three hours and trying to keep him alive has been exhausting and both Jerry and I and the lovely couple we are sharing the sheep with, have been on tenterhooks waiting for the little fellow to snuff it every night. No sooner have we or the vet treated him for one ailment, he’s then on death’s door with another. At my wit’s end, I even gave him a stern talking to and told him in no uncertain terms, that if he didn’t start pulling his woolly socks up that I would be refusing to persist with bottle feeding him at all. Jerry is convinced he might just be faking the whole thing to get another night in the luxury kitchen accommodation rather than slum it in the field with the others. Perhaps he is? The others seem pretty miffed that he is getting all the attention and I am convinced that I am far too soft for all this farming lark. So for now we are persevering and I can report, dear Reader, that Fatty (now known as Thinny….for obvious reasons) is still with us.
Poppy and Primrose have adored feeding them, cuddling them and generally making sure that everyone in a 50 mile radius is invited to see them and marvel at what will be a Sunday roast come late autumn. I have lost count of the number of times I have had to wash Primrose’s uniform as she’s covered herself in sheep poo visiting the lambs before and after school. Surprising that she cares for them so passionately as she has delighted in telling all her friends that the lambs are not her pets and that her Daddy will be making a delicious lamb bhuna with them. I have been waiting with baited breath for one of the mothers to ring me to inform me of the trauma that this news had caused her 5 year old. Primrose does tend to lay the ‘we are eating our own sheep’ bit on quite thick…..
Thank goodness for the arrival of my fabulous birthday Hendricks Gin Midnight Tea party pack – seriously @HendricksginUK you are the angels who brought gin to a gin soak in time of great need. I am eternally grateful.
No82, Blackie and Fatty have now moved into their permanent field digs until autumn and we are gradually weaning them off the bottle. No82 and Blackie are a joy to watch gambolling about the grass with Fatty steadily trotting behind. With my birthday over and done with for another year too, I found myself watching Poppy and Primrose running round the field with their woolly friends following on behind and thinking about the fact that nine months ago, the closest that I had been to livestock, was the Waitrose meat counter. Now look at me. Lambs, hens, dog, cats, 2 small children…….the house and garden are slowly turning into a scene from Gerald Durrell’s My Family and Other Animals. Poor Jerry does have such a lot to put up with. I suppose I’d better not mention to him, dear Reader, that the farmer has just called to ask if I want an orphan calf to rear.