18 September 2008

Sherry Had a Little Lamb...

We had just come from Purakaunui Falls, and we were headed toward the Tawanui camping grounds. After passing the herd of sheep pictured in yesterday's post, we got stuck behind a herd of calves. The calves weren't moving very quickly, but it was actually quite entertaining to be stuck behind them. There were two little herding dogs that would run up and nip the legs of any dawdling calves. Eric and I had a good time pointing to the prettiest calves and the ugliest as well as the tastiest looking.

At the front of the calves was a man in a tractor leading the way. When we came to a fork in the road, he pulled over to the left and let the calves go in front of him as we took the right fork. As we passed, Eric spotted a little lamb on the dashboard of the tractor.

"Did you see that? It was a lamb! Let's ask him if we can hold it." Eric quickly pulled over, and I hopped out and shouted, "Can we hold your lamb?" I didn't feel at all silly, but in hindsight maybe I should have!

The farmer readily agreed to let me hold the baby lamb, and he very willingly answered my questions about taking care of lost lambs.

Q: How old is this lamb?
A: It was either born today or yesterday.

Q: What are you doing with it?
A: I'm taking it home to feed it.

Q: Then what?
A: Then I will try to find its mother, but if I can't, then I'll try to get another sheep to adopt it.

Q: Will mothers pretty much take care of any lamb?
A: No, I will have to find a dead lamb and rub its fur on this one so that the mother picks up the scent and will think this one is hers. Or else I can use the afterbirth of a freshly born lamb.

Q: We've noticed there are a lot of sheep way up in the hills, and it seems like you can't always be there to tend those and go around picking up any lambs that may have died. What do the sheep do with the lambs that die?
A: Nothing. They just leave them there.

Q: How did this sheep lose its mom?
A: The sheep got scared and ran away when I was getting the cows from the paddock. So, this one's mum ran away and left it. Sheep are pretty dumb that way.

Q: So, I've noticed that some of the walking tracks are closed during September and October for lambing. Are they closed because the sheep become of afraid of hikers and will run away and abandon their lambs?
A: Yes. Trampers really can disturb the sheep, and they'll forget where their lambs were.

That's pretty much the long and short of it. We've been seeing heaps of lambs lately, seeing as how it's spring down here (well, nearly spring, just a few days shy), and every time we see them, I shout, "Look! Lambs!" We had been contemplating pulling over and hopping a fence to see if we could catch one to pet and hold. Now that I know we might have killed one in doing so, I'm glad we didn't do anything so silly!


Alice said...

How great, did you know your grandmother once held a baby tiger?

bubby69 said...

When I was a farmers wife I use to look after heaps of baby lambs it was fun. I also use to help find lambless mothers and skin the dead lamb and put it on the adopted lamb and watch how mum bond with lamb very cute. I also have to help birth lambs that was cool if all went well however those dead ones were not so pleasant

from NC--NKL and Fam said...

Sweet! Sounds like the beginning of a talk...