Like every sheep and cattle farmer in Britain, we’re keeping our fingers crossed in case we’re hit by the dreaded Schmallenberg Disease which could easily cause us to lose 80 of our expected 200 lambs. But worse even than that, is the effect on the farmer and I have such sympathy for those poor men and women whose farms have been infected by this horrible virus. I don’t know how on earth we’d react, but it would be hell. And after seeing interviews on television, those who still think that farmers are only in it for the money, should reconsider. I know we’re not: it’s about creating life and keeping old traditions and breeds alive. It’s also about landscapes, about fields and grassland, trees and hedges – a whole way of life. You won’t find vast featureless prairies in livestock country.
As I write we’ve had ten lambs from six ewes, which is a pretty good start. Later on, we’ll begin get the multiples, the triplets and quads. We’ve also had our first badger-faced black (actually dark brown) lamb, which I’ve pictured here, being held by Emma Wood, Time Team’s surveyor and member of the geofizz team. Emma’s kindly been helping us out for the first few days.
We never give our lambs names, but I wanted to call the badger-faced one Alan Cadbury, as that way I could mention his name on this blog and provide a link to my Unbound page, as the book still has quite a long way to go before it’s fully funded. We’re just over 30% which I’m told is pretty good for two weeks, but I suppose I’m just an old worry-guts. Anyhow, I’ll take any chances I can to plug my first venture into fiction. Oh, didn’t I mention it? It’s a detective thriller, The Lifers’ Club, set in the Fens, and starring fearless archaeologist Alan Cadbury. Trouble is, the badger-faced lamb is a female. So she’ll just get a number, like all the rest. And was it such a good idea, after all – the name I mean? Or perhaps not.
Time to do another hourly patrol.