Farming sheep is a messy business, having asked my friend whose daughter is partner to a farmer if I could get hands on with lambing, he duly arranged it. It is his hands you see assisting in the birth of twin lambs. Sheep who were in the shed and had given birth had to be moved to pasture and those about to give birth brought into the shed or if too late given assistance in the field. Not all the sheep are obligingly lying down but have to be caught, enter the quad bike, and a shepherd's crook and a New Zealand device that is like a short coat hanger that hooks the front feet into it whilst the hanger is lying across the animal's neck. Very crafty. I can testify that a sheep just about to give birth and on her feet can run and many minutes are spent on capture. I did birth a sheep as requested, twins, the second was normal, the first had one leg back and even the farmer couldn't get it forward so it was pulled by one leg and I was fearful of the force needed. All ended well and I was well pleased and proud of "my" wee lambs, duly spray numbered and tails docked with a tight rubber band, ram lambs had you know what docked as well. A lot of the time was spent checking sheep in the fields those that had given birth naturally and with assistance, those about to, and those who had lost their lambs, and one ewe that died with two lambs that joined the other orphans in the shed needing 4 hourly feeding, and some needing persuasion to suck. Driving a tractor with a lift box was fun, especially with only 10 seconds of Cornish english instruction, and with his kids in the lift box, no pressure! we also later chose fat lambs for the market after weighing them and "bellying" them, shearing them where the cut goes. I refused that activity as it requires more skill than I wished to inflict by my learning on the sheep. It was a very interesting day and I'm glad I'm no farmer, when I buy lamb or mutton I will have a greater insight into the effort required to get it to the market.

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