Monday, March 22, 2010
As the weather was so beautiful, Sam and I decided we would walk rather than drive to go and see Trelystan's own version of 'Lambing Live'*. We strode out with the sun warm on our backs down the lane which leads from Lower House to the farm at Fir House. We trod daintily at first through inches of mud - regretting we had not taken the easy option of a ride in the car. Soon though we left the damp dingle and climbing up higher, found the track firm underfoot. Pausing for breathe gave us the chance to take in the view. Behind us, and in the centre of my photograph is 'home', at the heart of the small mountain kingdom of Trelystan. How different things look when viewed from another angle, a fresh perspective is always refreshing. We're looking in a south-westerly direction here. To my left the land falls away to meet the Rea Valley's gently undulating pasture and arable land before rising again to Stapely Common, Corndon, the Stiperstones, Long Mynd and lands beyond (where there may indeed 'be dragons' - the hic sunt dracones beloved of old map-makers).
It's certainly busy at Fir house; pregnant ewes mill around by the dozen; ewes with newborns are penned tightly together in family units, fresh straw is being scattered and water troughs replenished. Each ewe has been given, alongside her ration of sheep nuts, a beet to gnaw on. This looks like a real treat - I'm reminded in no small way of how, not so long ago, nursing mothers were given a bottle of stout on the maternity ward to 'build their strength'.
It is ever so slightly frantic in this shed - the ewes due to lamb are constantly on the move (and noisy too) though this may be to do with the imminent arrival of food. But what's going on over in the corner? And there? And over there too? Looks like heavy breathing and Things Happening at the Business End. I think if we hang around long enough we may witness the miracle of birth.
We see the twins born too, slippery little things welcomed to the world by their mother with a sniff and a thorough licking. Pretty soon they'll be penned up and given a squirt of this and a spray of that to guard against infections. Within minutes they'll be standing and in search of milk - that precious first colostrum without which they never seem to thrive.
Then it's out into the sunshine again - with thanks to the Thomas family for putting up with us and our stream of questions. We've had a great morning; seeing those new lives begin was the icing on the cake. For me, no matter how many times one sees it, the wonder does not diminish.
*Perhaps I'm going slightly batty in my old age but I enjoyed this BBC programme more than anything I've seen for ages. Sheep in strawy sheds, sheep giving birth, the miracle of life (see above), rare breeds and lots of information about life in a rural community and erm....more about sheep. Perfect - provided one likes sheep of course. Felt quite bereft when the schedule reverted back to the same old-same old University Challenge and Masterchef. Sigh.