For two nights in April 2015 we sat up in the stables. One of our Shetland ewes was in labour and she was taking her time about it.
It was our first lambing and it was a stressful experience, but a truly amazing one too.
The two lambs grew quickly and were soon meeting the rest of the outside world.
... including our new puppy, Boris
The reason for this reminiscence?
Well these two lambs were never going to become pets. Today, after 17 months growing up on the farm with us, it was time to send them off to you-know-where (when the livestock trailer makes an appearance, it's often bad news for someone!)
There was a tinge of sadness as they were the first lambs we had raised from birth, but we know they had a good life here.
We keep the Shetland lambs into their second year as they are a small breed and don't really get very big by their first winter. But the benefit for us is that they are a hardy breed which can survive the winter without much help. Being small, they present few difficulties with lambing. As they cost us very little to keep, they are perfectly suited to our needs. They are gradually enriching the grassland and they are a great way of managing it. We get the additional benefit of some very, very tasty meat. As they go off in their second year, the meat is officially classed as hogget.
edit (Wednesday 30th) I just picked up the lambs from the butchers (all packaged up in boxes.) They came in at 16.5kg and 16kg. I'd have liked a little bit more, but they were quite compact little sheep. Anyway, good things come in small packages.