The Archers at The Larches


A preview image life in rural UK.... real life, occasionally funnier...


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Doubly proud.... Pink's babies


It is now 23:37 and I've just been awoken for my 12th consecutive night shift, having passed out slept earlier this evening from 7pm. Actually I feel rather refreshed after my four and a half hours. Our house guests of last weekend, Erin, Fen, Cate and X, were bemused by my nocturnal activity. Erin, a friend who writes the blog 'Cross The Pond, pointed out that I was operating in a similar fashion to Thomas Eddison [get me!] who allegedly thought sleep was for the weak, believing more in power napping. I found this interesting article on Eddison's opinion of sleep here on Brain Pickings

I must admit, that the house is calm and quiet at this time of the day, no one needing me to feed, muck out, cook, clean or water them but I do crave a little more shut-eye. On Wednesday I didn't even manage my early evening nap and went through from Tuesday night till the wee hours of Thursday. Mind you, it was worth it.

Wednesday: A good, bright, warm day where I managed to clean the house, see to the animals and take a picnic (with sproglets + guests) to a rural wildlife reserve where a craggy rivulet cuts a sway through miles of clay (significant.) In fact, while the children shrieked with delight slightly up steam of me, (out of sight but not of hearing,) I snoozed, dribbling into the grass. The sun felt hot on the back of my jeans - lovely.

I was rudely awoken by a tribe of dripping, pygmy, spa types who'd overdosed in the mud treatment room! It was terrifying. The mile or so hike to the car, across gorse and fern; the girls in swimming costumes and colourful Crocks, carrying their wellingtons and jeans, the boys in squelching boots and wearing their, by now, cardboard jeans, was interesting.

Later, having Googled how to fix the washing machine by emptying the filter of silt and mud, we designed home-made pizza and the kids settled to watch a movie. I cleaned up and waited for Hubby to relieve me of duties so I could sleep. He was due home from a meeting at 9pm.

Before Hubby arrived I'd managed to herd the children and their guests into their respective bedrooms. I took the opportunity to walk up the drive to check on the pregnant ewes in the stables. Pink, my cade lamb of two years ago, was definitely showing signs of lambing.

By the time hubby arrived Pink was pacing and her water sack was visible. Hubby left me to fix his dinner. By walkie-talkie I described each gory labour stage, while Hubby attempted to prepare and eat his pizza. Funny but he seemed reluctant to hear every detail.... [Lou: Smiling evilly - I'm overtired OK!]

Anyhoo, by 10.30pm we roused the children and they came to the barn to see Pink, (slightly aided by me as I could only find one little lamb foot initially,) give birth to her first lamb, a bonny baby girl. Mum and baby immediately bonded.

An hour later, as requested, we roused the children again as Pink began to deliver lamb number two. Unfortunately she only presented the head of this lamb and try as I may, I couldn't slide it back in to the ewe in order to recover both of the legs for a perfect birth, the canal was just too narrow and I felt very inexperienced. I did manage to find 1 leg but the shoulders were too wide to allow the lamb to birth. After a few moments and a stunned silence from the kids, Hubby phoned to ask our nearest farmer friend to help us. [All the ewes we're lambing this year were bought from him originally and he has been such an invaluable teacher for me.]

Within minutes he was with us. He flipped Pink on her side and had the lamb out moments later. My mistake had been to try to lamb Pink while she was standing, with her lying on her side the lamb slipped out easily and was given to mum to lick. Another lovely girl. I feel sure, having watched the technique used, I could repeat this on another occasion.

This lamb struggled a little through the night. I stayed to make sure all was OK. In the end, maybe an hour later, when the lamb was badly shivering and not attempting to stand like her sister, I intervened. I made up a little bottle of warmed colostrum and fed it to her, keeping her close to my body warmth. Next I wiped her in the birthing fluids that dripped from Pink's backside in order to disguise my smell and lay her next to her sister in the straw.

The result: two happy girls today and one happy mummy. Phew.

Snowy: You're next!

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The Science Bit.....

I have been testing the theory, mainly at night, that a watched kettle does not boil. I can confirm this to be a very big truism.....

Though the sheep are the size of aircraft carriers, there is still no sign of their lambs.

Note to self: Next year, when the ram comes calling, I will be far more watchful of crayon colours on the girls' backs:..... of the 'servicing' date! Might even use this handy gestation table to save myself more night shifts.

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Night shift......

My shift began at 11.30pm tonight, having gone to bed at 6.30 pm. The Hubby had been on shift for the early part of the evening but needs to sleep now, as he's got a real job! Yesterday's shift of almost 17 hours had taken it out of me purely because it had begun at 2am. Wimp! I can only imagine how sheep farmers with 500+ sheep feel at lambing time.

It's now almost 1am on Monday morning and I've already birthed 3 chicks! Ok, ok.... I s'pose technically I just noticed them through the glass top of the incubator but hey, I've been caring for them for the last 21 days. There are 16 eggs in the bator, all Salmon Faverolle, so just another 13 to go. Hope we make 100% but it's unlikely.

In the barn the sheep are settled. It really doesn't look as if we'll be lambing tonight. Saturday evening's arrival, a healthy, beautiful, grey, boy, is growing steadily with regular feeds from mum Moon. He's even started doing those funny little lamb jumps. I can't wait till we turn him and mum out and he gets to frolic in the field. That's a day or so away yet and reminds me that I really must check the weather for the next few days.

Tonight the evening is as calm and warm as it was last night. A blessing.

Note to self: In the next hour when I toddle up to the barn to see the maternity ward, I must set up the brooder and turn on the heat lamp. The chicks will need to be turned out of the incubator quite quickly as there's really not enough room for 16 in there. In the brooder, a converted glass cabinet, set on its side, where the glass panes act as a viewing gallery for we custodians, these new arrivals can lash about and grow strong.

By the way, my apologies for the typos, incorrect use of words etc in any of my recent blog posts, particularly the Mother 's Day Thank Ewe blog post..... I can only offer the excuse of mega-tiredness..... Bear with! At least it is the Easter holidays already, so no need for school run....

I realised I ate very badly yesterday AND I missed out on the fab pub meal with my children and the MIL because I wanted to stay with the sheep, but a tin of Foxes biscuits and an authentic Korean pot noodle came a close 2nd!!!!! Right now (at 1.10am) I realise I'm starving and so have set a pot of last season's, home-made, frozen ratatouille to simmer on the stove. It's full of tomatoes, courgettes, onions, garlic, chilli and other goodness and should do the trick nicely. I might even have crusty bread and salted butter... steady!

Sleep tight and I'll update you tomorrow.

Lou x

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