April 18, 2013

Life on the Farm: Spring Babies!

With the abysmal spring weather we’ve been having in England, the one consolation is the overwhelming joy of meeting all the precious baby animals, both on our farm and on neighbouring ones. Just before the first of March my brother-in-law received 3 eight-week-old kunekune pigs to add to his existing 2 giant adult kunekunes. As soon as we opened their cages on the back of the pick-up we scooped them up into our arms and cuddled them. Delicious! It would be a short-lived pleasure though, as in just a week they were too heavy to lift and already too independent to seek human affection. Still, they’re heaven to look at.

Our mini-herd of black sheep got knocked up rather late in the season, so we started seeing baby lambs on neighbouring farms long before we had the pleasure of having our own. One of my favourite things I’ve done so far this year in England was to go with my kids and a group of friends to see an entire industrial barn-full of newborn lambs at Daylesford, an organic farm just down the road from us. We were overwhelmed with cuteness and joy at the sight of all the little furry things wiggling their tails and drinking milk from their moms’ udders. Adorableness turned to realness, however, when we got to see two lambs actually being born. My kids were silenced in their awe until my daughter Coco announced that birthing lambs is what she’d like to do as a job one day. She has already signed up to be a volunteer  in the animal barn at the Daylesford Summer Festival in May.

And lastly, we were so hoping our hens would have some little fuzzy yellow chicks this spring, but sadly our plans were thwarted when a sneaky fox got into the chicken house one night and ate our beloved rooster Kaiser. He was a glorious boy, with a rich red comb and slick black and green iridescent tail feathers. We had raised him since he was a baby, and he was just coming into his own, strutting around the farmyard like he owned the place. I like to think he died defending the 7 “ladies” that were his roommates in the coop. We’re going to a get a new adult rooster on Friday so there may still be hope for some chicks this spring. Stay tuned….

Three little piggies. Isn’t their ginger fur incredible?
The view from the Daylesford tractor looking over fields and fields of mommy sheep and their new lambs.
Day old babies at Daylesford. They mark the babies with a number matching their mother so they can keep track of who belongs to whom. When the babies are a day old they put a rubber band around their long tails to cut off the blood supply so they eventually fall off. We asked the farmer why they do this and he said it’s to prevent infection. If their tails are long they get covered in poop and then flies are attracted to them and lay eggs there. Yuck!


The mommy and new babies on our farm. Our black sheep are so furry and fat, it was impossible to know if they were actually pregnant. So far two have lambed (one a single and one with twins) with potentially two more to go.


Zach calls this one William because ‘he has posh hair.”


Coco, bonding with a day old lamb.


First day out in the field.


I stopped by a farmshop on the way home from the dentist the other day, and in the barn attached were these tiny piglets. The fact that I would run into something like this while buying groceries made me so happy that I live here.


Getting bigger every day!


This is a little graphic – sorry! – but I couldn’t resist showing it to you. The lamb in the foreground was the one we saw being born, just a minute before I took this photo. The one feeding in the background had had a very difficult birth just before we got there, but had recovered nicely. We stayed until the newborn stood up, and it was like watching a Disney movie – the little legs all shaky and the body off balance. There was plenty of trial and error and falling down, until he finally got his footing and made his way over the get a drink of milk. Birth to standing to walking in 15 minutes. Incredible.


My friend Laura and I getting broody with the babies.


Although it looks like the piglet is smiling along with Christopher (who chased her down and picked her up so the kids could pet her) you should have heard the squeals coming from her mouth! Poor piggy.



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Heidi Wellington
7 years 3 months ago

Beautiful post Amanda, I passed it on to all my friends who adore baby animals! Thank you!!

7 years 3 months ago

Every time I open your blog and see this country-life posts I feel a little blue thinking about my kids (4 and 2 years old) and how much they would love it.
But it's a sweet stitch. I love studying your photos.


anila halili
7 years 3 months ago

I love the baby sheep and piglets, so cute.

Habitually Chic
7 years 3 months ago

I love your farm posts! Such a great reminder of the wonders of life outside New York City!

7 years 3 months ago

Ok, this is a silly american city girl question….are these animals (the pigs) for consumption or just part of a gentleman's farm?