Apr 20

2016

Life on the Farm: My Little Shadow

Hello there. I’ve been on Easter holidays with the kids. They get a month off of school, which just seems completely ridiculous to me, considering they had nearly a month at Christmas and ten days as well in February. I had great plans to work around their freedom – I would wake up early, write and blog and get some emails done and then spend the rest of the day with them. Well, that didn’t happen. I can’t complain too much because I was over the moon to have Coco home from boarding school for so long. Also having to entertain them to some extent made me take the focus off work life and put it instead on enjoying family life, which is the whole reason we moved here to England. So there it is.

But anyway, I’m back. And just in time for lambing season! This year we have 13 knocked-up ewes on the farm and as of today 9 have given birth, yielding 14 baby lambs so far. Last year, we secretly hoped for a bottle lamb – one that sadly gets abandoned by its mother and has to be kept alive with formula from a bottle. It would mean the lamb would come live with us in the house and we would nuture and raise it ourselves. There was one good candidate – the runt of triplets – that was weak from the start. We bottle fed it in the lambing shed, thinking it would gain strength and get in there more aggressively to grab its share of the milk from its mother. But it just wasn’t thriving. We thought we’d give it a couple more days to see if it improved, but then we found it dead one morning. He’d given up the will to live. My heart broke. Of course we wanted to give it every chance to bond with its mother and live the life of a normal lamb, but I was filled with regret. So this year, I said to Rob, who looks after our lambs, right from the start that if any lambs seemed vulnerable to being neglected, we would step right in to mother it ourselves at home. And sure enough, on day 3 of lambing, there was a set of twins born on a very cold night that even produced and few inches of snow. I think the mother must have been overwhelmed by looking after two in such challenging conditions because by the next morning she had completely abandoned one of them, a little boy. Coco spent an entire day with him in the lambing shed, giving him the colostrum he was missing from his mother and trying to get him to bond with her, but to no good outcome. By the evening, the baby lamb was settled into our house in a nice cozy crate and we were armed with a big bag of formula and bottle. It’s very early days yet – we haven’t even named him yet – any ideas???? – but so far it’s a bit like having a newborn baby but not quite. He’s cute as can be, and he is impressively strong and nimble even though he’s only four days old, but he sleeps through the night without needing to be fed, and pretty much entertains himself around the kitchen or my office when he is not napping. That said,with Coco and Zach back at school and Christopher out of the country for ten days, I am feeding him pretty much every two hours and taking him out for regular walks. He follows me absolutely every where, never more than a foot away from me. Not having done this before, I’m pretty much feeling my way through this instinctively and with a little help from Google. I have no idea how long he’ll stay for, but I’m hoping he’ll be out in the world independently before the hound puppies arrive and we start the surrogate-mothering process all over again!