Thursday, 27 May 2010

♫‘The hills are alive with the sound of bleating…’♫

First week of May

Until recently I was lamenting the fact that the field opposite our house had been devoid of sheep for some time. It always seems a bit empty when they’re not there ambling about their business. I learned from our neighbour, who owns the field, that this was because he was dealing with a rather persistent mole problem. Indeed, the top field was riddled with small piles of earth and N was muttering something about hoping they wouldn’t cross the lane and get onto our lawn…

I saw our neighbour out there on an almost daily basis, setting traps and - while he was in the mood for housekeeping - re-building a fallen down dry-stone wall, with a little help from his wife. It seems all this hard work paid off as there is a line of dead moles hung up by the side of the field (a rural tradition), not an earth pile in sight, and a green field full of expectant ewes and diddy little lambs. It is a joy to behold. And to listen to. Every time I step outside there is a cacophony of bleating and baaing as mother talks to child and child to mother. The farmer pulls up regularly in his Land Rover either to take a ewe away or to arrive with some newborns.

The girls leap up every morning and peer out through their bedroom curtains to count the lambs and see how many new ones have arrived. Sometimes though the lambs just get on with it by themselves. G noticed one pushing and groaning the other day and pointed it out excitedly to me: ‘Mummy, that sheep’s having a baby’. I went outside to take a closer look but things seemed to have calmed down. I assume something appeared during the night because the girls counted an extra lamb in the morning. Meanwhile, last Friday, N was working from home. His study looks right out on the field and about coffee time he called out to me that a lamb had just been born. He hadn’t seen it actually happen, but he did see the new arrival all covered in blood and with the umbilical chord still hanging down. I couldn’t resist taking a few pictures and watching to see how mother and lamb bonded...







Three weeks later

The field explodes with noise every morning about 9.30am when the farmer comes up to give the sheep extra feed. He opens the gate opposite our driveway, drives in, honks his horn and they all come running in a small stampede to where he lays the feed on the grass. They seem to know the sound of the Land Rover for the symphony begins to build even before he has appeared. Amusingly, they sometimes get it wrong – it’s the bin lorry or another tractor – and the whole place reaches fever pitch then dies away into a rather embarrassed silence as the vehicle concerned rides right on by.

The lush green grass of just a few weeks ago is now looking well-chewed and is strewn with white clumps of sheep’s wool like giant dandelion clocks. The four week old lambs are getting nice and sturdy now, with only a few smaller, later arrivals left. One got out from under the field gate yesterday and was enjoying some lush long grass on the verge. We tried to herd him back in but he just tried to shove his silly head through the wire fence, with singular lack of success. In the end I opened the gate wide (hoping there wouldn’t be a sudden dash for freedom from the whole flock) and eventually he understood and came in the right direction – but the silly creature still squeezed under the gate rather than running through the large gap I had created. He still has much to learn, clearly.

But you know what? Sheep aren’t as stupid as you may think. We have consistently had three or four who have escaped their confines and enjoyed many many happy hours munching away in our garden. We’ve lost half a hedge thinking it was frost, then waking up to the fact that the woolly blighters were coming in over night and having a good old chew.

One of our favourite things, though, is watching the new lambs springing about in the air. They wag their little tails and suddenly go flying upwards. It’s hilarious. And as they grow more confident they start to hang around the field in small gangs, larking about and winding Mum up. Just occasionally, she gives in to their mithering (good northern word, that, covering a multitude of sins – it means ‘nagging’ or ‘bothering’ or ‘hassling’) and you suddenly see the whole lot of them go shooting off round the field, jumping and skipping and having a laugh. Somewhere I have a video of that, but I’ve just been searching my files and I can’t find it. If I do, I’ll add it later.

Right, talking of lambs, I’ve got to go and see mine now in their school swimming gala, so’d better dash, or guess what? Yes, I’ll be late. Again. Thence to the garden centre and then a Rod Stewart concert at the MEN. I'm not quite sure which is the lesser of the two evils...

13 comments:

Deborah said...

Great post, I felt like I was sitting right there beside you the entire time!

Pondside said...

I've never seen such a new lamb - great photo.
What a life!...lambs, moles, garden, girls and a concert........have a great time!

Julie said...

I love this! Great pictures! Thank you for posting them!

Levonne said...

I love seeing lambs move about also. Ever thought of taking a brief video of one in motion and posting it on your blog?

You're invited to visit me at http://levonneandjohnscaliforniaodyssey.blogspot.com/

Tim Fredriksson said...

Very beautiful pictures. I would love to see England one day but I wouldnt survive since it is dangerous to eat anything over there due to the Mad Cow Disease.

An English Shepherd said...

Lambs are lovely :-)

Wizz

guppyplec said...

I dont normally read blogs, but i must say that I rearly enjoyed this one and love the photos.

great work

Carl
lpool

AmandaRose said...

Great Photos! I don't think I've ever seen lambs like that! Got to love spring!

HER ON THE HILL said...

Hello to my new readers and thank you for your kind comments. And Pondside - thanks so much, and thank you for still being here and commenting!!x

Levonne - I have a video, but I can't find it at the moment! Will try and sort something out.

Update on sheep coming in next post.

Rajesh Kumari said...

i like the photographs.nice trip.

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H said...

My uncle was a dairy farmer, so I am more familiar with cows than sheep, but I do love to watch lambs leaping. They seem so full of the joys of life.

Val said...

I live in Wales, and from the first week we were here there were newborn lambs and their mums in the fields surrounding our house (not our fields), I loved watching them, but there haven't been any since, about three years now. I really miss them. There are cows and calves, but it's not the same!

I love the way the lambs play - not just leaping and jumping but their games of running at full speed in single file after each other around the sides of each field!

Great post, I really enjoyed it!
:)

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