Days become weeks and weeks become lambs, huh?
No that is not a typo or me being even more mind numbingly dense than usual; one of the things that happened, whilst I was away from this place for almost a year, was small matter of five ewes and ownership, well part ownership being mine.
It could have been one of those drunken conversations when the world is cured of all ills and you find yourself next morning in bed with someone whose name you don’t even begin to know.
As someone who gave up alcohol when she was around 17 that wouldn’t be me, I could still have those conversations and still wake up next to someone whose name had never been part of the conversation but never was I drunk except maybe on life itself:0)
So, all the jokes about sheep and living in Wales could be alluded to but that would be geographically incorrect and any way these sheep started as a throw away thought which became an idea and evolved in to five mowing machines.
I have a friend who has a small acreage attached to her home, nothing fancy save for the setting and the three ponds interlinked that traverse the two large fields on the side of a valley in Northumberland. Nothing fancy but very special to the person who calls it home and to the many people who have the good fortune to spend time in the tranquillity of the place plus the abundant wild bird beast and butterfly populations that through planting and caring have been encouraged to call it their home too.
All this has been done on a shoestring or probably to be more accurate half a shoestring so keeping the fields mowed regularly so that meadow flowers etc could flourish became something the purse was having to stretch towards more meaningfully than needed so idea for mowing machine that not only cut but fertilised as it went seemed like a good idea one late night.
Eventually after research and lots of petting fleeces:0) five ladies of breeding and integrity were found and offered the job in return for plentiful hay when the grass stopped growing with handfuls of special nuts thrown in for delight. They moved in and the fun began.
Lets just say its been a steep learning curve for the on the spot shepherd but she has learnt fast and can almost run as quickly as small flock breaking for freedom past her through the slim opening left by bucket holding hand trying to shut a gate:0)
I spent the first few years of my life in a farm labourer’s cottage that two families shared, on a mixed arable farm that also bred horses. I could ride a horse before I could really walk and milk a cow not long after plus there were sheep for grass cutting and mutton, no lamb they made too much money for the farmer for us to get any to eat.
I learnt how to set snares for rabbits and numerous other skills that kept food in the larder for us all. Most of all I learnt all about the magic that dances in that small slit of light time and space where animal, vegetable and mineral are as one and communication never needs thought just expression.
Over the years I have travelled a long way from that small two up two down cottage but the lessons learnt there both consciously and unconsciously have informed much more than a wellie clad little girl could have ever guessed.
My friend and I had hoped that I might have met the gals by now, that I could have spent time chewing on a blade of grass sharing their ruminations but that was not to be, which is sad for me but my input has at least made the shepherd in situe laugh and maybe even helped in small ways to ease her steep learning curve.
It was decided that two of the gals would be introduced to a suitor, cough, which was a bit of a shock for the rookie shepherd but the gals took charge and came back from their tryst looking pleased with themselves. That's them at the top of the post:0)
For the past couple of weeks there has been a will they won’t they scenario with various sheep sitters called in so shepherd could leave cottage to attend to her other work as artist facilitator teacher. Then this week life really came to visit in delightful shape and form.
We are now the proud fairy-godmothers of four lambs two gals and two boys. The first two arrived last Monday, wee little ones but Mum is not huge and they are doing just fine, the second two arrived on Thursday and were like three week old lambs on arrival wanting to jump on to bales of hay as soon as they opened their eyes:0) Their Mum looked them over checked they were happy then promptly either jumped or climbed out of the pen to go for a lush grass snack so she’s just fine thank you very much!
The first photo is Ella and her two lambs just a few hours old. The second is Chrissie with her two also only a few hours old.
Aint life grand, he thinks so...
For those who might wish to know the flock are shetland sheep with Chrissie having a cross of blue faced leicester hence she and lambs being bigger.
The flock comprises of Juliet Chrissie Jenny Jackie and Ella plus now four new lives one of which has been named Blaze for obvious reasons from the picture above. They are mowers and fleece providers as far as I am concerned it will be for the shepherd on the spot to decide anything else. Their fleeces are gorgeous and are all different ranging from light grey through to black with enough kink and fluff to make them all interesting for anyone who spins, felts or has other use for a part of our mowers that they are glad to be rid of once a year:0) if you'd be interested in laying hands on a fleece or part of for your own craft leave a comment and I'll be in touch.
The are homed in Northumberland, England, UK.