Sunday, 13 April 2014

A Tale of Two Lambs

When I was very young, my mum made me a stuffed toy lamb that I called Skippity. Skippity featured in many bed-time stories, along with his imaginary sister lamb called Hoppity. Skippity may well have been put aside many years ago, but when I was told earlier this week about a real life Hoppity and Skippity, my  inner child awoke and with a wave of childhood nostalgia I simply had to make their acquaintance.

It was a bright blustery morning, as we headed a short distance out of the city and to the farm in the country, where lived the sweetest little pair of lambs.

Yellow daffodils nodding in the breeze bordered the lane leading to the farm. As we crossed the field beside the farmhouse a single lamb spotted us and confidently pranced across to me, curious to see what was on offer.

Disappointed that there was nothing edible available, she wandered off to join her siblings;

twin lambs with black noses,

who were watching nearby beside the gorse bush and bleating their high pitched Baaaaaaaa...s

The mother Ewe watched from the neighbouring field and eventually deciding that her family had been in the limelight long enough, she bleated peremptorily, summonsing her brood to her side before imperiously strutting off with them into the next field.

As we turned around; bounding across the field towards us were the two little pet lambs that I had come to see -

Hoppity and Skippity!

Three and a half weeks old, they had already lost the fragility and spindly leggedness of new-born lambs and were delighted to be made a fuss of. Both rejected by their mothers, they were the best of friends,

nuzzling each other affectionately

gently headbutting and sucking at my outstretched fingers.

Skippity's mother had lambed early and he had been born during the night in the field beside the river. Disastrously he had rolled down into the mud and water along the river bank so that only his little head was visible. Alerted the next morning by the frantic Baaaaaaas of the Ewe, the farmer and his wife Fliss,  hastened over to see what was wrong. 

Thankfully still breathing, baby Skippity was gathered up and rushed to the farmhouse where he was soon immersed in a hot bath and then wrapped up in front of the fire. A nip of brandy and a bottle of milk revived him further. Safe and warm, Skippity was reunited with his mother, but unfortunately she had already given up on him, turning her back upon him and refusing to acknowledge him. So it was back to the farmhouse and another bottle (no brandy this time).

By this time Hoppity had arrived into the world, but her mother - already looking after two lambs, decided she didn't want the hassle of a third and so rejected her. Hoppity joined Skippity beside the fire in the old farmhouse to be cared for by Fliss.

Feeding times are every four hours and so poor Fliss is suffering ever so from sleep deprivation, as there is also another lamb that is being part-fed on the bottle. Already feeding one lamb, the Ewe seems to realise that her second little lamb is not getting sufficient milk and so compared to it's brother looks small and runt-like. Hence every four hours the mother sheep escorts her two lambs down to the farm-gate for Fliss to bottle-feed the smaller, after which they disappear back over the hill and into the surrounding fields until it is time for the next feed.

Hoppity and Skippity became great pals; shunned by the other Ewes and their lambs, they wandered around together - always side by side, learning from each other and being in the privileged position of the freedom of the large farmhouse kitchen and fire; racing in calling for Fliss to feed them. (The flagged farmhouse floor means that any little accidents are soon able to be dealt with easily).

Warmed bottles of milk are guzzled in less than a minute, 

tails wagging eagerly as though they were dogs,

and if one lamb should finish slightly before the other, there is a friendly challenge to the other lambs bottle.

After their lunch they wandered off together beneath the tree in the farmhouse garden.

Meeting the lambs was lovely and as we left, they both rushed up to the farm gate and with their cloven hooves on the bottom rail of the gate, called Baaaaaaaaaye Baaaaaaaaaaaye to us! Honestly - they really did!!!

(Mr Long Suffering groaned in disgust when I informed him of this - sadly he didn't get the inner child awakening experience!)


1 comment:

--Leanan-- said...

They are so cute. Great story. I heard somewhere that lambs really like dogs, sometimes they even forget they are lambs and start acting like dogs.