The silence of the lambs

That is not what we are hearing from our neighbour’s fields at the moment. Thankfully the lambs were born late this year and missed the worst of our unseasonable spring weather. We’ve watched them grow from wobbly legged, innocent bundles into teenage hooligans. I photographed them before work one morning last week as they bounced around as if on invisible pogo sticks. They had heard us topping up the bird feeders and stampeded over to investigate. With so many pushing against the fence, I feared it would give way at any moment, engulfing us in a woolly flood. Eventually they gave up and went off to play on the nearby bales of straw. These stragglers remained in the hope of some leftovers and I managed to capture the image featured here.

They say sheep are supposed to be stupid, but I don’t agree. Many years ago we used to have a breakaway group regularly turn up in our garden. Grass is always greener as the saying goes and this is obviously what they were thinking. It wasn’t a case of pushing through our hedge at the weakest point. Oh no! This little lot headed in the opposite direction, over the hill and out of sight and broke through the fence next to the old coach road. They then did a sharp left hand turn before making their way back to the lane. Turning left again, they came up the drive and in through the gate. The entire route was more than half a mile. We would sometimes wake up on frosty mornings to find several unexplained clear patches on the grass, but we didn’t have to look too far to find Dolly and her companions. Occasionally they would be there waiting for us after work. The first time it was quite shocking to turn into the drive in the pitch dark to see several ghostly white shapes lurking under the trees.

We didn’t want to get them into trouble and after reporting them to the farmer on the first couple of occasions, we eventually kept quiet and just herded them up the lane and back in through the gate. We haven’t seen Dolly for some years and recently the neighbours had someone in to fix the fencing. I still walk over their land from time to time, but they are more wary of strangers now. At first I couldn’t get closer than 100 yards, but last spring I tried a new tactic and started bleating at them. This time they ran in my direction and I had a hard job zooming out enough to keep them in the frame.

Come in No.10, your time’s up!

Number Ten

The family

Sheep and Lambs

Later that year we had the first real snow of winter and I was back on the farm with the camera. The sheep weren’t nearly as co-operative and it took a while to find these taking shelter under a small copse of trees.

Sheep in the Snow1

Having thought our days of sheep herding were over, we were surprised to see one of our llamas behaving oddly a few weeks ago. They had just been fed and should have been settling down in the field shelter for the evening, but Monty was parked by the gate – humming, as they do when they are excited or stressed. We followed his gaze to see yet another girl had made her way into our garden, where she was helpfully mowing the lawn. Some things never change…

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