With most people now finishing up lambing for the year, and with the ewes and lambs turned out, there are some things sheep farmers and lambing assistants will not miss.
1. A general lack of sleep. After only a few hours’ shut-eye, getting up at the crack of dawn (actually well before it!) to face the happenings of the lambing shed.
2. Getting dressed in the dark and finding out a few hours later that your shirt’s inside-out and your trousers are back-to-front.
3. Catching forty winks in your work clothes – because you are too tired to take them off – on a bale of straw rather than a bed. The lambing shed never sleeps.
4. Finding a pen full of confused ewes and newborn lambs all mixed up. Lots of eager mothers not quite sure which babies are theirs.
5. The permanent iodine stains. The orange tinge on hands, arms, and boots.
6. The feeling of a head, but no legs. Or a head and one leg. Or back legs. Complicated lambings. Why can’t they all face the right way?
7. Pockets full of castration rings. Those things get everywhere. And the washing machine definitely doesn’t like them.
8. The annoying moment when a ewe decides to stand in, tip over, or muck in her freshly filled water bucket.
9. The sheer frustration during number-spraying when the ewe decides to move and the 1 ends up looking like a 7 and the 5 looks like a 6.
10. Being tripped up by lambs that insist on doing figures-of-eight around your ankles. The bottle-fed ones are the worst. And the noisiest.
11. Trying to teach lambs that teats are not located under the neck, on the chest, or in fact on the ewe’s legs.
Until next year, and the fun begins all over again…