A Festive Spring (With Gynaecological Rhubarb)

This cold weather has held everything back, except one or two of our ewes who have had prolapses. This normally happens in the last weeks before lambing and is a result of a shortage of space in the body cavity, too many lambs and bulky forage. When you first spot a prolapse, it looks terrible: red and very fleshy. But the ewe herself seems unconcerned and goes about her business of chewing the cud, as if she didn’t have half her insides starting to come out at the other end. The solution to the problem is quite simple and involves lots of warm, water and gentle hands. Once everything is safely back inside her, you insert a plastic truss, known in the trade as a spoon, which you then carefully attach to her fleece. Although we normally remove them when ewes actually starts to lamb, the spoons are designed to flip out and over when the lamb begins to appear. And they work well; we’ve certainly never had any problems with them.

Anyhow, we’d just been sorting out a prolapse and I was walking back to the house carrying a small bucket of warm water and various other bits and pieces, when my half-asleep eye was caught by something that looked like another prolapse. We’re very much on the alert for them in the final stages of the lead-in to lambing, so suddenly the adrenalin started to flow and I was about to call to Maisie for help (having small hands she does all the difficult internal work), when I remembered I wasn’t in the barn. And the prolapse was on the ground. I looked again: it was our floral rhubarb whose vast flower spikes and umbrella-like leaves are such a welcome sight in early summer. But now I can never look at those fat, glistening red buds in quite the same way again…

Easter rhubard

The red buds of ornamental rhubarb, Rheum palmatum ‘atrosanguineum’.

As it’s Easter, I’ve also included two more shots of ewes and lambs, but this time separately. At feeding time the ewes are voracious and the actual process of feeding them can be hazardous. Already this year they’ve had me off my feet once – and I’ll swear this is the reason that New Zealanders (with their vast flocks) are so good at Rugby. I try to make sure that most lambs are away from the troughs when feeding begins, as in the past I’ve actually had one or two killed (or injured) in the subsequent scrimmage. Lambs aren’t stupid and after a day or two they learn to stay away  while their mums are at the troughs – and it was then that I took the picture.

Ewes at the troughs

Ewes at the troughs

When the mums are away, the lambs will play…

When the mums are away, the lambs will play…

And finally, the Alan Cadbury saga continues.  Thank goodness the meter has started to notch up again. Hooray! And many, many thanks to everyone who subscribed and it’s great to see the names of old friends from the past, who I do hope will continue to stay in touch. I’m even starting to think about the next book of the Cadbury saga, but at the same time, I daren’t actually do anything about it. I know that if I start a new plot spreadsheet or time-line I’ll drift away from the Penguin book and that would be fatal. So discipline must prevail at all costs: one thing at a time Pryor! And I mean that…

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