Last week we released the first forty or so ewes with their lambs. These were the ones who lambed in the first week of March and had been in the barn for over a week. Like me when stuck in an airless office deep in the diesel stink that calls itself London, young lambs get stir-crazy if confined for too long. They climb into their mother’s hay bales and generally make a nuisance of themselves, because they want to let off steam.
They specialise in sticking their heads into any available nook or cranny, then failing to get out. When that starts happening, we prepare a small run outside where they can get rid of energy, but get back into the barn for shelter if it rains, or indeed, snows – not that anything seems to be falling out of clouds in eastern England this year. That ‘scamper pen’, as we unprofessionally call it, works for another week, but after that, there’s no alternative but the open field, with plenty of shelter if they need it. So that’s what we arranged last week. Almost immediately they’re out in the open they start to form themselves into groups and in a couple of days they’ll start running mad, full-on, crazy-paced races along field edges. These races happen when their mothers are being given their twice daily rations of feed (which they need to keep up their milk supply), and when the sun begins to set. The sunset races are the best. They start about now and will be tailing off sometime in later May and by then the larger lambs will start to be looking more like sheep. So they make the most of their youth while they still have it. Sound advice.