But Lambs Can’t Swim!

Posted on April 14th, 2014

A tale a week on the farm this spring.

No sooner had we settled the new kid goats into their trailer home in Nick’s shed, than we needed it for a farm emergency. One of our lambs had given birth in the early morning down near the lake. The very same lake the children had been playing in during the week. It isn’t deep, well unless you are a new born lamb that is! Mother and one lamb were safe on the bank but some of our guests were up early and walking their dog round the lake admiring the ducks when the baa-baa they heard coming from the lake was clearly not matching up the quack quack they expected to hear! They followed the sound and couldn’t see anything but could just make out rustling down by the reeds and brambles at the edge of the lake.

Lamb stuck in the lake

Alarmed by the sound they raced back to ring us at reception. Farmer Nick was up early and just doing the VAT paperwork when the call came. The first I knew something was up was as I came down to make a cuppa and saw Nick running up the garden path shouting for everyone to help. I can assure you Farmer Nick doesn’t do running so I knew it was serious. I grabbed my wellies and camera, more important than clothes, and ran after him in my pink fluffy dressing gown! Guy and Ally were soon there too. Tying a rope to the tractor we lowered Guy down the rope to see if he could see and rescue the lamb.


A good boy scout knot to keep Guy safe


There was a huge cheer as he came back up, scratched from all brambles but with a soggy little lamb under his arm.


Guy the Hero as he rescues the lamb


Farmer Nick brought out the new stock trailer, the goats looking very comfy in the old one, and the plan was to put the soggy lamb, Mum and the other twin all inside together in the hope that Mum would take to her lost lamb, feed and nurse her and prevent pneumonia setting in.


New Farm Trailer into action


The fear was that if we didn’t keep them all together, and quickly, Mum would reject the little soggy bundle. We were already worried that the lake would be rubbing off her new born scent. The plan was sound and Ally had the second lamb in seconds. Capturing Mum on the other hand was far from easy. Nick thought he had her and was just feet from dragging her into the trailer with her lambs when she pulled back so hard it snapped her horn and she was off. This time it was harder as Ally and Nick tried to catch up with her and grab onto her coat. Meanwhile time was ticking for our poor little lamb that was cold and wet. They managed it, it was probably only a minute, but it felt like an hour. A lack of photos as I was still hanging onto my modesty in nothing more than a dressing gown whilst trying to block off Mums escape route past the trailer!


Rounding up the new lambs and Ewe


All safely aboard it was off to Nick’s shed. Here we added a good bed of straw, a bucket of water and some hay which Mum tucked into while Nick sprayed her head with antiseptic spray where the horn had ripped away.


 Making the lambs & ewe comfortable

I grabbed a nearby towel and rubbed down the lamb placing her quickly back with Mum while Nick rigged up a heater pointing into the trailer. 

 Rubbing the lamb dry

From here it was time to hope and pray that fifteen minutes alone before the morning feed run would see both lambs bonding with Mum. With just enough time to dash home, dress and make Ebony’s milk up before the tractor ride we warned the guests they were in for an interesting feed run! As the tractor chugged to a stop at the shed we were delighted to see both lambs curled up with Mum. The guests peered in as we told the tale of the early morning drama and Nick went about his usual duties with iodine on their cords. We left tagging for another day as we felt they had had more than enough to deal with for one morning.


 Guests get to meet the newly saved lamb


We are so grateful to the foresight of our guests to call us straight away. It might all have been very different by the time we came round on the morning tractor run. My guess is the lamb would have drowned; we would have found the mother and assumed she only gave birth to one. How wrong we would have been. 

To see them together just a few days later out in the field is a joy.

Lambs in the field