Thursday, 7 April 2011

Mother love: Birth, death and the whole damn thing

The theme for this week's Gallery at Sticky Fingers is mother love. I'm still knee deep in this year's lambing so my post can only have a sheep flavour.

Most of our ewes are wonderful mothers. This one is Patch, is no exception but things haven't gone as well for her this year as she would have wished. She's letting us know about it. Loudly.

Her lamb was born yesterday morning and straight away it was obvious something was not right. It couldn't lift its head. That's disastrous for a lamb - it couldn't reach up to its mum to get milk. My mum milked the thankfully amenable ewe and we spent considerable chunks of yesterday getting the poor thing to drink it.

Late last night when I should have been snuggled in the comforts of my bed I was sitting with the lamb on my lap feeding it a bottle of milk, knowing my efforts were probably futile.

This morning when the vet was here to assist with a difficult lambing she had a look and said it looked as if the lamb's cerebellum was not developed.

"Shall I...?" said the vet reluctantly. She did.

Patch, meanwhile, was desperately calling for her baby. My long suffering and fortunately widely skilled husband had the task of skinning the lamb and slipping its coat, like over big pyjamas, on to another lamb born yesterday to an elderly ewe that has no milk.

Patch got this oddment back - a scrap of a thing in another lamb's clothing. Will she transfer her motherly love to this one? Watch this space.

Meanwhile the other mother, the one the vet had attended to, was lying exhausted in her pen. Her lambs - huge twins - had tried to be born side by side and failed. The vet went in to sort them out but it was too late for one of them. Mother love? It's tough when you're a sheep.

All this happened before breakfast as the sun rose on an exquisite misty morning. The birds sang in the trees and more blossom bloomed in the early spring sunshine.


  1. Lambing Live (I'm hooked) - small scale! Possibly worse for you, as you know your sheep so well.

  2. It's really interesting to get your stories of lambing season Mags. Hope the poor mother picks up. By the way, haven't forgotten about Davey's potions and will get some recipes to you when I can. xx

  3. I'm really enjoying reading your insights into the ups and downs of farm life. Fingers crossed that Patch accepts the new lamb...

  4. How fortunate that these sheep were not lambing alone on some windswept hillside - the outcome would have been much different and you now have lives saved, healthy lambs and ewes. Well

  5. Well done to all of you, Mags. I guess there's the pain of the vet's bill to deal with too.

  6. That was an amazing story. (I have to say that it makes me even happier that I am a vegetarian though. You bring these creatures to life with your stories.)

  7. You're certainly having an "eventful" spring, Mags. I hope things are less eventful from now on.

    Good tries to save the lambs. Full marks for the effort (though full marks won't reduce the vet bills, sadly).

  8. Oh dear I would be a useless farmer, I am too much of a sop. Even reading that made me well up

  9. Nature can be a bugger. I've heard about this wearing the dead skin thing and being a townie it makes me wince - the thought of a dead cold outfit - but if it works, and keeps life going ....

  10. Getting this close up view of lambing season is giving me a much wider view of springtime. It's much more than pretty flowers and singing birds, isn't it?


  11. Amazing writing - thank you for sharing the rawness of nature with us. Sometimes it's harsh, but the beautiful times outweigh the painful

    mrs green

  12. Heartbreaking stuff, isn't it!

  13. I've been watching Lambing live on BBC tonight. Well done to you all Mags.

    Total co-incidence but the novel I'm working on is called 'Mother's Love' and I have a scene where the main Protaganist is looking over a field of sheep, deliberating about the ewe that takes to a lamb that's not hers and tackles some of the nurture/nature issues.

    Your post struck a chord.


  14. Wow what a story, such interesting reading. So sad for the little lamb that did not make it but that is life I guess. Hope Patch accepts the new one and that the other sheep is ok.


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