April 18th, 2006

International Kittens of Mystery

Gambollers Anonymous

Lambing has now officially ended and 10 lambs are, even as I write, terrorising the rest of the flock.

Why terrorising?

Easy - Lambs have four goals in life: feeding, sleeping, keeping warm and gambolling. And the last two spell trouble.

You'd think that keeping warm and dry was not a fraught activity. It is, however, for their mothers. Our lambs usually take about a day to realise that there is an old stone cottage in their field. A cottage with a warm earth floor and a rainproof roof. Obviously the place to go when it's raining or cold.

Ewes, however, have other priorities - like eating. So, even at night or when it's raining, they like to go outside and find some grass. And they want their lambs to go with them. Fat chance. Lambs quickly work out that if they keep quiet and stay put their mothers can't find them.

Their mothers then start baa-ing. No reply. Frantic mother then rushes all over the field calling out. And then, if it's the middle of the night, they stand under our bedroom window and bleat plaintively. We then have a choice. Do we tough it through half an hour of 'I've lost my babies!' top-of-the-lungs baa-ing? Or do we climb out of bed, pull on some clothes, grab a torch and lead the complaining ewe back to her lambs - which are invariably snuggled up in the cottage.

It's a lose lose situation.

Lambing is tough.

Then there's gambolling which brings me to ... The Lamb Gang. This is something that spontaneously forms whenever two or more lambs are awake at the same time and not hungry. One starts to run and everyone else follows, adding four-footed bounces, head tosses and spine twists. Worst of all is about an hour before dusk when the largest lamb gangs form and a swarm of woolly ants race over the field at breakneck pace, seek out large rocks on which to play king of the castle and then leap from the top at a single bound.

I don't know what the latter does to their mothers but it terrifies me. I've seen lambs only a week old leap off the top of an eight-foot high rock.

Ah, the joys of lambs.