Tuesday, April 18, 2006

On finding a lamb

Last evening, lying in bed reading (John Stewart Collis' diary of his time working on the land in the 40's 'The Worm Forgives the Plough', since you asked.) there came the most eery of noises from outside our window: a kind of chesty high-pitched grunt perhaps. Bird or beast? Curiousity got the better of me and, torch in hand, I scanned the field from the window. A lamb was lying in the gateway, struggling to get to its feet. Otherwise the field was deserted - but the ewes do take the lambs up to the far corner at night...

Clothes on, boots on, torch in hand go to investigate. It's a chunky little lamb, a nice size but obviously in some distress. Alan asks (from the bedroom window) 'Is it injured?'. No, not as far as I can see. Its breathing is poor and it makes no attempt to struggle.

Alan phones Heather - we obviously cannot leave it out here overnight, prey to carrion - she will come and collect it. I'm not sure it survive much longer as it seems to be getting weaker before our eyes.

Heather arrives shortly afterwards, having stopped on route to put some ewes back in a field. Her quick assessment of its condition leaves none of us any the wiser as to why it's this way. Sheep are like that. Their ambition is to die and they do say that the first sign of illness in a sheep is often death.

She drives off into the night with the lamb on a sack on the seat beside her. Back at the farm it will be dosed - 'tubed' (with what?) and maybe it will recover. Or not. Perhaps it will be put on some dry straw in the barn and will slip away peacefully.

Job done.

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