by Sheena Blackwell
Living away from the farm now, working full time and having more sheep than ever meant this year’s lambing was my most challenging yet, but with hard work comes reward and now it is over the endless sleepless nights and early mornings are a mere memory. Sadly the lamb poo stains on my lounge carpet are more permanent following lifeless breach triplets one very wet March night.
I came across this poem by Sheena Blackwell who sums up that feeling of hearing a lamb take its first bleat, something I feel that no matter how many sheep I see come into this world, I will ever take for granted.
Like grey fur boulders rabbits huddle down, Ears pressed back like sleeves, Raiding the grassy larder of the fields.
The car goes cobbling over Ruts and pots of pasture, Stops and fixes the ewe In its twinned spotlight.
Under the cold stars, Stuck between push and pant, She’s hard by the dyke, Womb filled with lamb Jammed in the breech position.
This is not an occasion For caution, for gentle introduction, For ‘How do you dos’; A flying tackle topples her off Her four black matronly pegs, A capsized table, wearing a face of fleece.
Her master thrusts his hand into the bloody darkness Closing around his arm like a mouth. His sinews tauten. One pull jerks out a slimey, slithery flop, All dangly legs and head Swung like a pendulum over the racing ground.
He cleans its outh of muck, Lays it down, Kneads its sides like bellows.
The baa when it comes is beautiful; Thin and reedy, ancient and new.
Here is craft at work, Satisfactory as sliding glass into wooden grooves Properly fitted, every corner plumb; Like setting a ship in motion down a slipway.