It started off as usual. Everyone fed, including the dogs and us, chickens off out into the Veg Plot and anywhere else they took a fancy visiting, and the sheep off across the lane into the Side Field.
"That sheep can hardly walk" Hubs said, commenting on the heavily pregant ewe who seemed to have been pregnant for months. "You'll know when she is ready because her udders will drop", we were told. Well they 'dropped' a while ago, but still she has waddled on. Been a bit worrying. Maybe things have got stuck in the pipeline. That's what I had begun to think. Thoughts of calling the vet out had also been drifting through my mind.
"She can't have it yet", said Sarah from La Maison de Chameaux down the lane, "because it will be a new moon baby and they don't do too well. She has to wait until the full moon, and that's in a couple of weeks time". Looking at the sheep, who looked like she was going to burst at any moment, I had my doubts she would hold on for two minutes let alone two weeks. Still.......maybe she would. After all, as I have said, she has been 'ready to go' for some weeks.
Meanwhile: dodging the showers, actually it was more like monsoon-like downpours, Hubs / Head Harvest Person, continued to pick everything which needed picking. And then his job ended and mine began. To the left: figs to be jammed. To the right, a tray of tomatoes, onions, and garlic ready to roasted and pulped.
Got tired of the harvesting, so off out into the Sheep Arbre to pick up the doings of the sheep, and turn their bedding over to air it. Into the wheel barrow the soiled bedding went. Into the wheelbarrow also went the brown hens who espied a chance to make mischief.
The tree which Hubs has been harvesting the figs is in the background. It has grown mightily over this summer and is threatening to engulf the Bedroom Caravan sometime soon. Meanwhile I continued out and about, picking up acorns which the oak trees are now shedding in abundance, storing them to give to the piggies during the winter. The piggies, by the way, have been having a splendid time now we have had loads of rain delivered unto us via numerous thunder storms of late. They have been joyously ploughing up their paddock, which now has loads of water filled pot holes in it, proof positive that they have been doing what comes naturally to piggies, which is doing a 'search and find' in the soft, moist, ground. And joy of joys for them as well, is to have acorns tossed all over the ground so they can do a 'search and find' above ground. Which is good for them when the soil is rock hard, which it has been for weeks. Trying to put one's snout into the cement-like ground is not something one is likely to do too much.
Meanwhile: another heavy shower, and watching the rain thunder down from the doorway of the house. Me and Hubs, standing together in the front doorway, watching the rain. It was a grand moment. Better than being squashed up in a caravan, or standing in a dripping awning. Me and Hubs, standing together in the doorway of our house.
Meanwhile, the day made its progression: Hubs in the office, me everywhere else. Doing jobs. This and that. Lunchtime comes and goes. No afternoon kip for me today: too busy. Hubs dives off to the Bedroom Caravan though for a quickie. Onwards the day plods. Off out for a quick dog walk late afternoon. But no, no dogwalk today for this is what I saw:
By the gate: one mum plus two babies. Just born they were, and still tottery on their little legs. I yelled full voice for Hubs. He rushed out, thinking that something dire had befallen me. But no: just our first born. And so we stood, me with tears in my eyes, watching this new life. It is late in the year for babies, who will have to get through the winter ahead, but we are in our first year of being shepherds and are novice at flock management.
Panic stations: couldn't leave this little group out in the field, only the crows were flapping about over their heads. Had visions of one little lamb being hoisted up by one dark black crow off up into into the air. So Hubs took the dogs for a walk instead of me, and I sat in the field and watched over the mum and her babes with the rest of the flock standing watching me from across the field, wondering, I think, what the hell I thought I was doing, puzzlement etched on their faces as they stood and observed me.
Hubs back. "Can't leave them here" I said. He looked at me. Looked at them. Then each of us picked up a lamb and carried them back to the Paddock with mum trotting along beside us, relieved, I think, to be got out of the field."She'll have to stay here for a couple of days" said Hubs. But: a problem. After the rainless summer the grazing in the Paddock is minimal and not good enough to feed a feeding mum.
Nothing for it: time to tackle the tractor and its lifting arm.
....which he did. Lifting mechanism shifted and shunted into place, after a bit of cussing and swearing and carrying-on, and off across the Front Field he trundled, pleased that he was in the saddle again.
And hoopla! The minor problem of where to insert the lifting arm was solved after a couple of mis-aims, as was the problem of getting hay bale to stay on once insertion was done. This required me to lean into the hay bale to offset its tendency to want to topple over as it was being lifted. Bools and Gus stood by in attendance, just in case their help was needed.
And off we all went. Back to the Paddock, there to bed down the new mum and feed her some of our very own hay. Another job done.
By now it was getting dark. So no more could we do, apart from bed down the chickens. And raise a glass in celebration for the two new arrivals, blessing the mum as well, and blessing ourselves for having kept on with learning how to be super duper efficient smallholders. Actually we are nowhere near being 'super duper efficient' but there are times in all our lives when, for the moment, one must be self indulgent!