Wednesday, May 13 – Where there is life
Well, I was wrong. It wasn’t dead. There was still a flicker of life.
I kept watch until early evening yesterday, by which time the mother had abandoned her lamb and wandered off to the far side of the field to rejoin the flock. I know that Neil doesn’t leave the dead out as it encourages foxes, so I climbed under the barbed wire and over the stile, carrying an old compost bag to collect the body. As I approached, a crow flew off and I knew that the carrion eaters had already spotted the lamb.
I was dreading what I would find, but to my surprise as I bent down to pick up the body, I found it was warm and breathing. The crow had pecked at the top of its head and there was a little blood, but at least the bird hadn’t gone for its eyes. I held the little black lamb and stroked its tightly curled fleece, knowing that if I left it in the field it wouldn’t last the night. I thought it stood little chance of surviving, but I couldn’t bear to leave it there to be pecked at by crows and torn to shreds by foxes.
So I brought it back here. I was sure it was going to die soon, so I wrapped it in a fleecy blanket then shut it in a little hut we once used for geese. I thought that would be kinder than leaving it outside in the dark for predators.
And early this morning, even before I’d dressed, I went outside in dressing gown and wellies, expecting to find it stiff and cold. But it was still alive. Its breathing was fast, but it tried to lift its head and kick its legs. I carried it indoors and dripped some warm milk into its mouth, then rocked it in my arms and wondered what to do. I haven’t the stomach for putting it down and it has fought to stay alive this long, so I decided to bottle feed it. I wasn’t sure where I’d find bottles, teats and formula, but when I told Gail about the frail lamb she said she still had all of those in the house from when Alfie was a baby. The milk is not as rich as a ewe’s, but it will have to do.
The lamb sucked weakly at first, but has suckled well on the hour since mid-morning, consuming almost half a bottle. It still can’t lift its head and it may still die, but we have done our best today.