I attended a women’s network meeting last week and the first question posed was ‘what have you done this month?’
For me, it was all about lambing! Constant checking day and night of our 33 ewes. Not a big flock but sufficient for chaos and lack of sleep. Just like buses, you wait and wait and then there’s one coming, and another and every direction there’s lambs starting to appear.
This is my brother who lives on the farm; our house is adjacent to it. Alexander and I work as a team to support our ladies and give a hand as necessary. You can’t beat holding a lamb and embracing it’s pure cuteness! This is one of the best portraits of my brother where he looks relaxed. I feel it shows a genuineness and real connection to his animals. I had helped the ewe through a difficult birth with this lamb earlier that morning, we shared the same birth date – 10 March. In fact by the end of the day I shared my birthday with 11 lambs!
Actually, I love lambing the sheep. Wandering down to the yard to find some action and knowing that your interaction with the animal can bring a successful outcome, usually. Sheep are wily and flighty creatures at the best of times but at lambing they allow you into their personal space and appear comfortable with your presence, ironically right at their most vulnerable time. There’s almost a knowing that you are there to help them.
Seeing all the ‘sense of place’ photos of late, I was trying to avoid another sense of place set of images but there is an underlying sense of place for me here. I was brought up on this farm, I admired my mum working with the baby calves. It can be tough work and life for the animals can hang in the balance at times. The farmer’s skills in reading animal behaviour and knowing the next best steps can swing into their favour. That’s a huge feeling of satisfaction knowing that you kept an animal alive when it was on a slippery slope. On the other hand, feelings of grief and sadness can overcome us when we are not successful. Unfortunately this lamb died two days later. We were devastated. With sheep there’s a very fine line between life and death and it’s swift. Sometimes you can see it approach, others not. We were with him two hours prior, assisted with feeding and next time we checked he was lifeless.
I had chosen to photograph this lamb as he had been bleating, maybe he was calling for help at that early stage. The ewe was not producing milk as proficiently as she could have. I was struck that I had a record of this wee lamb that was now no longer alive.
We often take our own time for granted, I hope we make the most of what time we have and that the ‘recorded memories of us’ can be looked back on with fondness! Just like sheep, we all need to be prepared to seek and, most importantly, accept help at our most vulnerable times.