The two lambs nursed by Jo died as I feared after 36 hours. They were simply too premature to survive. We’ve had better luck resuscitating one pedigree Zwartbles we scooped off the field, its tongue already cold, although it felt warm to my frozen finger when I discovered it with Fabian Grennelle, apprentice shepherd. The ewe chose the stronger twin and headed off. So, for the past two nights we’ve had Damon Allbaa-n staying. I came down this morning to find Kim sitting on the floor in the drying room feeding it with a bottle. The rest of the day it spent largely at the kitchen table on Jo’s lap. I’ve never heard a lamb purr before. By this evening, Colin had had enough and Damon Allbaa-n went back to the barn where he was successfully fostered by an ovine. Are you still wondering about the name? Well he lives in a house, in a very big house in the country . . .
See last post. A twin with perfect Zwartbles markings – white blaze, white socks, two-tone tail – has joined its brother in the drying room under an infra-red lamp. Jo is unhappy with the white plastic bucket arrangement and her designer’s eye strays to the wicker basket my grandmother used for cut flowers. “They’d have more space in that,” she says. I point out that ancestral wicker is porous and particularly difficult to clean. “Don’t you think they look a bit squashed?” she says of her two steaming patients. I can see her aesthetic sense is taking a bit of an agricultural beating but tell her they were probably a bit squashed too in the womb. I’ve left her now, squatting on a stool in the drying room with the tiny lamb out on her lap, Practical Sheep-Keeping spread open beside her. She is tickling it under the chin. I have a terrible dread of the morning.
Well, it’s started. I went down to the boiler room to retrieve some clothes for tomorrow and found a bucket with straw, stuck in under the laundry rack. It was shaking a little. Inside was a tiny black lamb, born this evening, and brought in to warm up before we stomach-tube it with the beestings Colin will strip from its mother. “Jo, any interest in nursing?” I called, thinking of the long night ahead of coaxing an under-weight neonate to survive. And as I write, my fashion-designing, Londoner, step-daughter is making up a hot water bottle for the little lad, a zealous glint in her eye.