Honey & Jemima

Spent May Day bank holiday at Tan House. The lambing began at the end of the first week of April so they’re anything up to three weeks old now. Shetland sheep usually are trouble-free for lambing but this year was an exception. Margaret lost a lamb to the fox, one of twins so the yew still has one to suckle. One yew just keeled over and died for now apparent reason leaving a pair of orphaned lambs; Margaret managed to catch one of them quickly (Honey, she’s called) but the other leapt around the 10 acre field like an acrobat and wasn’t catchable for about four days. Eventually Margaret got her in a rugby tackle and carried her bleating and squirming back across the field to the pen where her sister was. Fortunately, she remembered her sister quickly and pretty soon curled up beside her, after they’d both had a bottle of milk, on a straw bale. This twin is called Jemima, still quite nervous, at the beginning she was very nervous and ran to the back of the pen even when Margaret came with the bottle. She’s much better now and was coming to me (the stranger) yesterday to suck and nibble my fingers.

The third orphan – Butterfly, because of her white/grey/brown patterned ears – was abandoned by her mother as she (the lamb) couldn’t get up and the yew didn’t know what to do about it. Shetlands often find odd corners to “nest” in so you have to hunt for the lambs. Margaret didn’t find this one for a few days, then tried to get her up and onto the yew but finally had to take her indoors with Honey. She still couldn’t get up. Margaret gave her Carbo Veg (the corpse reviver), then Nux Vom and liquid paraffin, that got her up and got something to come out the other end! It’s possible there was a slight blockage but obviously it was treatable. The little one was taking the bottle but not excreting until then … we all know what that can feel like! Poor little soul, at only a few days old it must have been terrible for her. She’s now up and about, with a very strident and piercing bleat! Reminds me of what Chopin said about the Erard piano, she’s decidedly insistent, LOL. But it’s so good that she’s feisty and going for life, determined to make it. She still gets the shakes, her nervous system’s not connecting properly yet but it will, we hope.

I was able to feed butterfly twice yesterday, she’s delightful if a bit uncoordinated. At one point she let go the bottle-teet then went for it again but stuck it in her eye, got a squirt of milk over her face! We sorted it and she finished the bottle. You have to stop them sucking once the bottle’s empty or the suck in air and get wind, can be very bad in a sheep, much worse than for us.

I hope to go back next week for another visit, see them again. In the main flock there are a couple of gorgeous totally black lambs … I have designs on their fleeces in a year and bit’s time *g*.

Also came home with some of this year’s lamb meat … yes, I love them AND I eat them, we have an agreement. It really is superb lamb. Their fleeces, being Shetland wool, are fantastic too, I’m knitting Margaret a jumper from some of last year’s at the moment.