In the field with the ewes and lambs

I’m in the field with the sheep; ewes and lambs. Each mother has two babies, a week or two old I’m guessing. My arrival is met with stares, curious from the lambs and glaring from the mums. I sit under a tree, the presence of a human something to be kept an eye on, but only for a few seconds before the chomping continues. After a few minutes a little panic kicks in and the young who aren’t with their mum bleat and bleat. And run when the bleating is answered.

We are all in the shade on this hot April morning. The adults are breathing quite hard under their thick wool.

Later, the shepherd arrives on a quad bike. I nod and hold up my camera to give him a reason why I’m here. He nods back as he rides past. The scene is disturbed. The mothers all stand up and the lambs draw near and butt the udders for comforting milk. Later, when the shepherd has moved to another field the milk is denied, instead stepping forward to wean the young onto grass.

After a while, all is calm again. The ewes lie down and the lambs continue their hesitant exploration. Some of them dig a little, scratching the dry soil, smelling things. Some climb on fallen branches, others just loll about or snooze. But it’s the skittish jumps I delight in, that energy firing into their legs, skipping them into the air and leaping them about. On a hot day there’s not too much of that, or maybe they are not quite the right age.

Each lamb has a number sprayed on its back, matching that of the ewe. Each has a tight band around its tail about half way down. One day the end will drop off. One day the males will be slaughtered. One day some of the females will become the concerned mothers.


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