A couple of weeks ago I was jumping for joy with our first precious lamb of the season. There is something uplifting about seeing a new lamb frolic, with a proud mother standing by. It is also a sign that perhaps the worst of winter is over and we are approaching spring.
But lambing is also often associated with a bitter break in the weather, and this week has been no exception. With barely 10mm recorded in the gauge since Christmas, we are just coming out of two days of solid cold wet miserable rain. And right in the thick of it was born our fourth lamb.
The ewes have plenty of shelter in their middle paddock, but as I am also supplementing their feeding with oaten hay, they tend to hang around the top paddock a bit. Whilst we have planted trees in this paddock, they barely provide a twig to shelter behind. There are solid windbreaks on two sides, but it is still exposed. On chilly mornings, it is the first paddock to catch the sun, and being the highest part of the property, it is popular with the ewes escaping the chilly air that sinks to the lower parts.
But when the sun doesn’t come out – and the rain is steady, it can be a miserable place to be.
And sadly this is where I thought I found our fourth lamb… but as I approached her, she kicked, and I thought we might have a chance.
Her only chance of survival was to bring her inside and warm her up. Unfortunately I had to go to work, so my highly talented multi-tasking wife Jo was called upon to work her magic.
In no time at all the lamb was dry and warming inside the house, where chaos was reigning supreme. Extra kids, extra puppies and now and extra lamb were staying in our little house. Jo dug out the poddy lamb bottles and prepared to face a two hour feeding regime overnight. But at the first feeding it was apparent we had a battle on our hands.
Sadly the lamb passed away not long after we brought her inside.
It was a sad moment for all of us. The poor little lamb barely had a chance, but this is the struggle many of them face when born during atrocious weather.
Thankfully the other lambs are all looking healthy and we will keep our fingers crossed they all grow to be tough and hardy sheep – who can perhaps delay their lambing by a month or so.