Monday, July 22, 2013

You can take the girl out of the farm but...

... it would seem you can't take the farm out of the girl.
Warning - one of these photos may turn the stomach of non-farmish folk!

Yesterday, as part of my quest to capture photos for an MPS club competition, I took myself out to Ambury Regional Park to see if the afternoon light was any good on the west coast.
The park features a farm, and it's the time of year for lambing. Visitors are allowed to meander through the paddocks en route to the coastal walkway, so long as the mums and bubs are given a wide berth.
It was like being transported back 35 years, though the paddock was flat as opposed to very hilly, and I was on foot, not horseback. If I am correct, the sheep were perendales, just like ours were, and the lambs looked just like the hundreds I'd seen and handled growing up. I actually delighted in watching them feed (especially through my zoom lens) and comedically bounce on all fours as they do.

I noticed a ewe lying down some distance away and took a closer - but still distant - look to make sure she was OK. I suspected she was giving birth and I did not want to disturb that process.
However as I skirted around her I noticed a very still lamb and a distressed Mum.
As I knelt down to the lamb, my recollections of how my Dad would encourage life into a struggling newborn kicked in. Check for mucus over the mouth, some 'slaps' on the chest' etc... I stopped short of mouth to mouth (not that my Dad would have done this either!) as the body was almost cold and by then I know she'd already lost her struggle. Despite having seen this sort of thing so many times growing up, I was really, really sad... I could hear myself saying "Wake up, baby! Wake up, baby!"... but it didn't help.
Now, if I'd had my Dad's lambing belt, crook and a good turn of speed, maybe I'd have 'stolen' one of the only set of twins I spied, skinned the dead baby, made some slits for the legs and heads, and dressed the 'twin' in the newly fashioned jacket so he smelled like the grieving Mum's baby and she'd accept him as her own.
Instead on my return to the carpark, I hunted down a park ranger and told her the sad news instead.
The collateral damage of all this was, in my efforts to save a lambie life, I did disturb the birthing Mum. who ran off with her half delivered baby hanging out her bum - which is the photo I warned about. Also something I have seen several times before, and in mast cases, they do lie down again and deliver - though last seen this ewe was grazing!


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