2nd July 2020
You’ll be very pleased to know that I haven’t been able to find her for a couple of days. All the
lambs are doing well. So, wherever she is on the field she’s fit, healthy and mucking about with the
other lambs…. and she’s doing it without bumping into things.
The nursery flock has now broken itself up into family groups within the main flock. Which means
that she is in her circle of relatives, within the circle of the flock, with me and the dogs watching
over them from the outside.
In the last episode, you found us being amazed at her ability to track her mum and sister in a new
environment when I opened the gates and let the ewes take their babies off to pastures new. Their
first night in the new field was pretty normal for lambs, running about, exploring, jumping on things, off things, chewing things, coming to a sudden stop and falling asleep cradled by mum.
The next morning it was time for the lambs to have some wormer medicine, and their mums
needed some topical treatment to protect them from fly strike. Oh my. How would she cope?
I went up to the hill and called all the mums to me. The thing about young lambs is that they
are in a transition phase, moving from the ‘like a leveret’ stage, where mums leave them asleep,
often hidden somewhere and they stick to the spot until mama calls or collects. And then on
through the developmental phase of walking with mum….. and then walking with mum surrounded by the flock.
It’s always a bit of an unknown moving a flock with small lambs in it, will they follow? And if they
follow, will they keep following or will we end up with ewes in one place and a couple of lambs
running back to where they came from? Groan. I’m standing on the hill, I have an oval shaped flock behind me. A rounded group of lambs, surrounded by a layer of ewes. The excitement, ‘they’ve got it’, we’re all going together. And then, I looked down. There, right in the middle this mobile creche, is Ida. They have her surrounded. And they bring her down the hill behind me and take her on into the yard. Astonishing.
It’s fair to say she didn’t enjoy the next bit. Too confusing, new surroundings, quite a lot going on.
We spoke to her. Kept everyone as calm as possible. Gently extricated her before the ewes had their shampoo and then very quickly put her back with her mum. She was noticeably more quiet than of late. But, boy is she resilient. Within moments, she is attached to her mum and her sister and I opened the gate. They all walked out together and that was the end of the June 2020 nursery flock.
The main flock were all asleep under the trees. Carefully the mothers took their lambs up to the
edge of the sleeping flock and waited. Slowly but surely some sheep in the flock began to get up.
Forward they came. The grandmothers were on the move. Let the introductions begin. There was
sniffing and more sniffing and inspection and then closer inspection. The lambs were shown to the ewes and according to their place in the flock more and more girls came forward and got
acquainted with the new arrivals. Everybody spoke to everybody, it’s a wonderful sight to see.
After the excitement of introduction the mums separated themselves, time to regroup. Later they
cleverly integrated themselves with the flock over the period of a day. Some of the ewes with very
young lambs wanted to take them back to the first field. They know when their kids can cope. I
went up to see how our family were doing later that day.
Ida’s mum was rubbing her head along the flank of an older ewe, they were head to head, rubbing
foreheads, swapping scent and cuddling. Hello grandma. Ida and Sis were following mum. And this scenario was playing out across the field. Family members, adopted groups and adopted
individuals, meeting up, getting close, camping together.
Creches pop up every now and then. The grannies are employed. The lambs are thriving. I can’t
find Ida. That’s a good thing.
15th July 2020
Yes it’s Ida. She’s had a very busy and challenging few weeks. We’ve been busy moving the flock
from place to place, something that is always a challenge with young lambs in tow. But how would our girl manage? Well. The first time I tried this I rode the buggy into the flock, drove around for a while until I found her mum and waited. Sis fell in behind mum and Ida lined up behind her Sis with the now familiar nose touch and alignment. And then! Grandma. Grandma fell in beside Ida. And everyone else joined the trail of sheep beside and behind us, like layers of an onion. Yet again,
they had this little lamb right in the middle and off we went. I drove really slowly and they all came.
They follow the buggy or the dog and me. It doesn’t matter. I call. They come. So went our practice run and the flock changed fields and it was easy.
Over the next few days I called and moved the flock as many times as I could. Travelling slowly.
Sometimes on foot with the dog and sometimes riding on the vehicle. Most of the time I couldn’t
find Ida. As you know, weirdly, that’s a good thing. I showed the flock the dog. Anna and I took one
long border and predictably groups of lambs came storming up to look at the wolf. I imagine them giggling and nudging each other as they try to sneak up on her. They sniff and edge closer and play a game of lamb stylie ‘dare’. Anna lies still. Her eyes are everywhere. But she doesn’t biff
them, she doesn’t need to, when the level of cheek is reaching dangerous levels…….. the ewes
intervene and the lambs are called away. Anna’s eyes quit bulging and the effort of resisting,
Today was a time to once again protect the lambs. The dog brought the flock into the yard quietly and small groups were shepherded forward to walk through the foot baths. In the first group, two lambs hopped into the foot dip behind a line of ewes. The first lambs to tackle this big task this year. One large, bold lamb who had followed his mum. And a quiet, smaller ewe lamb. Ida. She navigates everywhere with her nose forward to track and sniff and she attaches herself to the moving flock so that she isn’t dislodged. Finding herself in this alien situation. Feet wet in a giant bath. She doesn’t panic. She remains very quiet for sure, but she keeps a clear head and after receiving her medicines, I am amazed again to tell you, that little lamb negotiated the foot dips, unaided and boldly went through the race and left to join the sheep up ahead. She is astonishing.
She’s doing fine.