An Irish woman's social, political and domestic commentary
Sunday, April 10, 2005  

Spring Lamb

Our new house is in the corner of a field in which the new born lambs are skipping around - a great source of delight for our toddler. There is a black sheep in the flock who had black twins day before yesterday and this was a cause of great excitement. However Saturday afternoon I noticed one of them had slipped down a bank and was perilously close to a stream dividing two fields. Heroically, I climbed over the gate, inched down the bank and rescued the frail little thing. I then phoned my uncle, manager of livestock for the whole enterprise and reported by great deed. He was pleased but prophesised that the lamb was clearly foolish and would find some other way to kill itself.

Throughout the afternoon I kept on eye on the lamb and was concerned that it wasn't moving from its spot. Its twin was following the mother around. Over dinner at our local chinese with M. (our first dinner alone since the baby was born!) I regaled him with stories of my childhood and our pet lambs every Spring. Sheep are useless mothers and from every flock a bunch of lambs have to be reared as pets because the mothers abandon them. We always gave the lambs imperial names like Romulus & Remus (twins of course), Caesar, Cleopatra etc. We thought we were great. We fed them from bottles with teats on them. It was all great fun. If a lamb was very sick it would have to be brought into the fire. My granny who passed away a couple of years ago was great for saying the rosary over a lamb in front of the fire and giving it the odd kick to keep it alive. She claimed lambs needed to be kicked to remind them they were alive.

Inspired by the fables, and spurred on by a surprisingly good Australian Chardonnay, we agreed that we'd check on the lamb on the way home and if it was still in the same spot and not doing well we'd bring it inside and mind it. M. was most excited at the prospect. Of course, having opened the gate, driven into the field (in the dark) I could tell immediately our lamb had died. It was in the same spot and on approach I could see its mouth had the frozen look. V. sad because a black lamb is really cute. The mother and surviving twin looked on from about 20ft away. We arrived back to the house and I was starting to get the giggles because M. was devastated by this turn of events and was berating himself for not rescuing the lamb earlier in the day. It had died miserably due to our neglect. Not sure about the giggling reaction but his emotional reaction seemed a bit over the top.

My sister who was babysitting set him straight. Lambs would break your heart. Even if you rescue them and keep them as pets they die anyway. Most of our pets died. Others got mouth sores and were hungry but couldn't feed because their mouths were too sore and then they'd cry and then we'd cry. Romulus broke his leg and Remus, who was strong just died very quickly of flu or something. If they did live, they were sent out to the field after a while and then you'd have to round them up to send them for slaughter. They'd recognise you and run over, looking to be saved. And you'd have to send them on their way regardless. And we were children. And the lamb granny kicked died anyway.

Even tho' I still had the giggles I was appalled that I had completely forgotten this aspect of the lambing season. I had maintained the romanticised happy version in my head and wiped out the subsequent miseries, which for my sister were the predominant factor in the tale. Isn't it weird how flawed memory can be? And isn't it weird how two siblings can have such completely different memories of the same incidences? I believe Feargal Keane's brother is complaining bitterly about Feargal's recollections of their father's drinking. Just shows you. That was only lambs. What else am I misremembering? And why was I giggling? It was awful.

posted by Sarah | 22:04 0 comments
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