LIFESTYLE BLOCKING IN PARADISE

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In 1995 Norman and I purchased our 10-acre, lifestyle block at Matakana, an hour north of Auckland, New Zealand.  Being townies, we knew nothing about farming or animals – it turned out to be the best decision we ever made!

Now retired, I am enjoying our Arapawa sheep together with our three Highland/Freisian cross cattle named Chance, Roberta and Jojo.  Arapawa sheep are a feral, rare breed – looking rather like goats with wool.  Go to www.rarebreeds.co.nz for more information.

The Lily stories were written over several years for my (then) very young Great Nieces to record the time they spent on our lifestyle block, together with other family members.  Adults say they enjoy the stories, too!

It was suggested I publish these, but after one very timid attempt (which was rejected) I decided my objective was purely to share them – hence this blog.

Thank you, Erin and Michael, for starting me on this journey.  I hope Michael enjoys reading about his “favourite”, Lily.

I intend to add further stories – one about hand-rearing Finn/Romney ram lambs in August 2006 (named Romulus and Remus) and another about the events during the last lambing season.

And then there’s the one about Pink Floyd, written for my adult niece, Jane, who lives in Wellington ….

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LILY STORIES – THE INDEX

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Photograph:

Gabrielle, Samantha and Chaz, 2004

Seven absolutely, positively true stories, written for my great nieces, Samantha and Gabrielle, predominantly about Lily and our ten-acre, lifestyle block at Matakana, near Warkworth, north of Auckland.   

These were written over several years to record and remind them of the special times they shared with Great Aunty Jacky and Great Uncle Norman, Grandy (Lily) and Gramps (Charles), Grandma (Trisha) and Grandpa (Colin), Mummy (Janine) and Daddy (David), and Uncle Steven. 

1 – We Meet Lily, May 2000

2 – Lily Becomes a Mum – September 2001

3 – Naughty Lily – September 2002

4 – Naughty Lily, Again! – December 2002

5 – Lily Becomes a Grandbaa – November 2003

6 – Lily Becomes a Sheep-Midwife – November 2004

7 – Lily Deserves Promotion – August 2005

 

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ROMULUS AND REMUS

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Photographs:
1 – Gabrille, Samantha, Romulus and Remus
2 – Roger (the Polaris Ranger) and the picnic site
3 – Romulus
4 – Romulus and Remus

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STORY SEVEN – LILY DESERVES PROMOTION

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Photographs:

1 – Chaz lived on our front deck for the first few days
2 – Chaz at the Country Park Market, Matakana
3 – Chaz and Jacky at the Country Park Market
4 – Chaz and woolly friend at Matakana School Pet Day
5 – Chaz and WWOOFER at Matakana School Pet Day

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 ne day, in July 2005, Lisa T telephoned, asking if we had orphaned lambs available for her daughter to take to Pet Day at the local Matakana School.  “No”, I said.  “We never have that problem – thank goodness”.   

A day or two later I was driving home from Matakana village and I saw Lily standing by the roadside fence.  I don’t know why I stopped – perhaps we have some special form of communication!   I called, “Lily, what’s wrong?”  She stared straight at me, but it was a strange sort of stare – she didn’t move or baa like she usually does.  I  went up to the fence and saw Kerri, one of the Arapawa ewes, down the hill, below Lily.   She was kneeling on her two front legs and when she saw me, she tried to stand, but found it very difficult.  When she finally managed it, her legs looked as though they were made of rubber – they were all wobbly and unsteady. I talked gently to her – trying to decide what the problem was.  All the time Lily stayed nearby, watching me. 

After discussing the possible problems with Great Uncle Norman and Kerri’s previous owner, we gave her some special sheep medicine.  We knew Kerri was in lamb, but thought it would not happen for a little while yet.  The next day, Kerri was walking around and we were very relieved. 

At midnight, a couple of nights later, Great Uncle Norman was leaving for Auckland on family business and I was standing by the front door, saying goodbye and chatting about a few things we had to organise.  Next minute we heard Lily baaing with great gusto!  I said “That’s Lily!  There must be something wrong.  That’s her ‘Come here, right now!!!’ baa”.  Great Uncle Norman said, “She is probably calling the sheep over at Ivan’s”.  I replied, “She has never done that before, so why would she do it now?  Anyway, I know her baas, and that is definitely the one she uses when there’s trouble”. 

Next moment we heard a tiny little “baaaa” and I said, “Oh!  Sounds like a lamb!”  Off we went, torch in hand.  Lily kept calling to let us know exactly where the problem was.  Kerri stood alongside Lily, next to the fence separating the paddock from some bush, very anxiously baa-crying.  Great Uncle Norman hopped over the fence.  “Be careful”, I said.  “I’m sure I can hear a second lamb, much further away”.  Great Uncle Norman found the first little lamb, which he handed to me, then carefully scrambled to where I was pointing.  Sure enough, there was a second lamb, making the quietest little “baa” imaginable.  Obviously, the lambs had enjoyed their first few drinks of milk after Kerri cleaned them, but when they started to totter, they had both fallen, rolled down the hill, under the fence, and into the bush.  “We can’t leave them here, overnight”, I said.  “We must move them, or they will get into difficulties again.  We might not be able to move the whole flock …. but it will be okay if several of them follow us”. 

I carried the two little ram lambs while Great Uncle Norman managed to move Lily (the pet Romney), Kerri and Peach (one of our friendliest Arapawa ewes) into the next paddock.  Shortly after midnight, Great Uncle Norman left for Auckland and I went to sleep, glad to know Kerri was in good health and there were new lambs to enjoy. 

Next morning, I went to check the sheep, confident in the knowledge that Lily would have let me know if there had been problems during the night.  I stopped and gave her a thank-you cuddle and told her just what a very special sheep she is.  She tilted her head and gave me a very supercilious look as though to say, “It’s about time you recognised my unique position in this flock!”  I’m not joking – that sheep is almost human!  Oh, no, one of the new lambs was missing and it must have just happened, as Lily had not called me!   

At that moment, Adrian S arrived to mend some fences, so I asked if he would help find the little lamb.  We searched and searched, to no avail.  I noticed the gate at the bottom of the paddock was open and suggested Adrian continue checking the next block of bush, closer to the house.  I could hear him crashing through the broken, dead branches and scrunchy leaves.  I was becoming concerned, so I asked Kerri, who stood in one place the whole time, “Kerri, where IS your little lamb?”  She looked at me, then flicked her head around towards the bush.   I called, “Adrian, I think he must be somewhere back in this direction!  Kerri hasn’t moved from this one spot and she keeps staring into the bush!”  Next moment Adrian said, “I’ve found him!  I saw the top of his head poking up out of a ditch”.  The lamb didn’t seem at all concerned – he wasn’t even baaing!  Arapawa lambs are black and white and are almost invisible in the bush’s filtered sunlight and shadows – never mind being in a ditch, amongst leaves and branches.  I was very, very thankful to Adrian.  We placed the lamb with Kerri and his twin, then moved the whole flock to the next paddock for safety. 

I checked on him twice more that day and on both occasions he was hiding somewhere dark, away from his Mum.  I picked him up and put him next to Kerri, who seemed pleased to have him back. 

Late afternoon, Adrian left to collect his two children from day care and I decided to have a final tour of the paddock.  This time, it took me ages to find the lamb!  He was happily hiding amongst some dead branches in a small stormwater channel.  Had it rained, the poor little thing would have drowned!  I knew Kerri the two lambs should be put into a pen where they would be warm and safe until the little lamb-wanderer bonded with her.  However, our yards and loading race were unfinished and there wasn’t another suitable outdoor location.   

I decided to take the lamb inside and made several telephone calls asking for advice.  We didn’t have teats, colostrum or milk powder, nor did I know the quantities required.  After speaking to Dianne R and Sally G, I put the lamb in a wine carton and scooted into Warkworth to the vet.  The lamb wasn’t happy in the carton, so I lifted him into the space between the front and back seats of the car, onto the black carpet.  It was dark and snug;  I realised it was exactly the sort of place he liked!   

Had anyone told me, 15 years ago, that I would drive into Warkworth in my gumboots, wooly hat, track pants and old sweater with a lamb in a box, I would have fallen about in my PA’s outfit of suit, stockings, high-heels and makeup, laughing uproariously! 

I arrived at the vets’, grabbed the lamb, almost colliding with two students from the local college.  “Oh look!  A lamb!” exclaimed one of the girls.  “Can I pet him?”  “By all means”, I said.  “In fact, you can hold him while I go into the vets’ if you like”.  When I came outside again, there were about eight students, all cuddling, snuggling and having turns holding him.   “Oh dear”, I thought, “there’s probably no chance Kerri will acept him now – but I’ll do my best and if I cannot succeed, I’ll have to do raise him myself, for as long as it takes”.  Once humans handle a lamb, the mother does not recognise their smell and rejects them.  Secretly, and being honest with myself, I have always wanted to bottle-feed a lamb!  But I promise, I did try to do all the right things!  Really!   

I then drove to Sally’s and she showed me how to mix the colostrum to bottle-feed the lamb.  He peed and pooped on her floor, and she didn’t mind a bit.  When I was leaving, the lamb was snuggled in my arms, with his head on my chest when Sally’s husband arrived.  He said, in his big, gruff, farming-type voice, “I don’t think THAT lamb will last very long!”  I’m sure he was teasing me, but I grinned at him and said, “I’m going to prove you wrong, Peter G!” 

What a wonderful few days I had!  We didn’t mind feeding him in the middle of the night, the puddles on the kitchen floor (and sometimes on the carpet) and the pee and poop on the deck.  We decided to keep him on the warm deck during the day and in a computer monitor box inside at night.  We lined the bottom with newspaper, then added an old sheepskin car-seat cover and towel for him to cuddle up to. 

One day, Donna F was helping in the garden and told me the lamb would follow me everywhere, because I had become his Mum.  Donna and I discussed names and I decided “my” lamb would be called Chaz (after your Gramps, Charles) and his twin ram-lamb brother would be named Chester.  

Every day I took Chaz into the paddock to see if Kerri would accept him, but it didn’t make any difference.  In fact, Kerri would nudge him out of the way and try to keep him separate from Chester.  Chaz’s little head would whip around, looking for me, so I would call, “Come on, Chaz!  Come on, sweetie.  She doesn’t want you, so I’ll be your Mum.  I definitely want you!”  He would baa loudly (at long last) and run straight up to me.  And that’s the absolute truth! 

I telephoned Lisa and told her I now had an orphaned lamb if her daughter would like him as we could not keep him for breeding.   Lisa brought her three children to meet Chaz and they thought he was just gorgeous!  So, Chaz had a new home, but only after I kept him for another week or two – I was enjoying him so much! 

Then the Matakana Country Park Market asked if I would take him there one Saturday morning for people to see an Arapawa sheep, because they are so rare and unusual-looking.  What a hit Chaz was.  A journalist called Michaela offered to take some photos – some of which are included here.  To everyone’s delight, Chaz followed me around the market like a pet dog.  He was cuddled, photographed and enjoyed by dozens of adults and children – many from overseas.  He was very inquisitive, but when he went out of sight, I’d simply call, “Chaz!  Sweetie!  Come back” and he would run straight to me.  Oh yes, you are right, these two townies have become slightly dotty! 

The last few days we had him, Chaz would run and jump and be very lamb-like.  He and I would go onto the flat area near the house and play and go for long walks around the farm.  He even learned to run up and down the steps.  During the night he never called to be fed, but when he heard one of us moving around, making up his bottle, he would give the funniest little “baa”, as though to say, “Thanks, and about time”. 

So Great Uncle Norman and I, in our 60s, have had the first experience of middle of the night feeds, washing bottles and teats, cleaning up puddles and poop, washing numerous towels and loving every moment. 

Chaz went to Lisa’s when he was a few weeks old and I am pleased to say that Lisa telephoned me with a “lamb report” a couple of days later.  Guess what Chaz was doing?  He was inside their house, chasing their two small dogs, running, jumping, springing and trying to get onto the couch. 

Guess who is now besotted with Chaz???  I wasn’t over the top at all, was I, Lisa???

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STORY SIX – LILY BECOMES A SHEEP MIDWIFE

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Photos:

1 – Josephine and Jack with Lily in the background

2 – Lily, eyeing freshly-picked tomatoes

 

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ne day, in June 2004, when it was time to have lambs again, we arranged for Oscar (Jeremy’s mate) to visit our lifestyle block in Matakana.  Oscar is mainly white with black patches, so we thought the lambs might be very interesting!  And, in December 2004, there were lots of stories to tell. Before Jeremy and Oscar, we had borrowed a lovely, quiet ram named Bobby from Dianne and Gill.  When people let you use one of their animals, they choose one of the babies as a thank-you.  Dianne and Gill selected a cute female with black circles around her eyes – they named her Josephine.  As they were moving to a new farm, they asked if we would keep her with us until she had her own lamb.   

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osephine was the first ewe to give birth in November 2004 – a male.  Dianne and Gill have named him Jack, after me!  Almost from the first moment Jack had quite a personality – rather like his namesake, do you think?  He was a very independent ram-lamb – he kept hiding from his mum.   Newborn lambs, like human babies, need lots of sleep. 

Several times during the first day or two, Josephine would call and call for Jack.  I would hear her and watch to see what was happening.  Usually, he would come bounding up to his mum.  But, on about the third day, I could hear Josephine baa-crying.  When I looked from the deck, she gazed straight at me and called and called.  “Oh, dear”, I thought, “That naughty Jack has either run away, got himself into trouble or is fast asleep somewhere”.   I immediately rushed down the hill to the paddock and opened the gate.  I was almost pushed over by all the eager sheep, thinking I was going to feed them multi-nuts – with Lily at the front, as usual!  Poor Josephine came up to me, looking most distressed. I started to walk to the place where Jack was born, because sheep like to stay in the same area for the first few days.  Josephine was trotting behind, baa-crying all the time.  “Never mind”, I said, “we will find him”, stopping every now and then to talk quietly to her – which seemed to help.  However, I wasn’t feeling very confident myself!   Down to the flat area we went, both calling and calling.  No Jack.  “Where could he be?” I asked Josephine, who was watching me very closely, head tilted to one side, waiting for me to decide what to do.   

There are rushes in that particular paddock, but they are not very tall, and both Josephine and I imagined it would be easy to see Jack.  But no – he had other ideas.  After searching for a few minutes, we found him, curled into a tight little ball, fast asleep.  I was very pleased to find him!  I picked him up and had a quick little cuddle before placing him next to the very happy Josephine!  He didn’t seem at all fussed.  Josephine nuzzled him and let him feed before looking up at me, and sighing, “Baaaaaaa-aaaaaaaa-aaaaaaaa”.  Sheep can definitely talk! 

On another two occasions, I would hear the special, “Please come and help me” baaing from Josephine and off I would go again.  There would be Jack, at the far end of the paddock, totally ignoring his mum’s pleas.  Sounds like some naughty human children, doesn’t it? This happened a few times – in the end I would point to where Jack was, calling to Josephine, “There he is.  You go and find him yourself!  I’m not his mum!”  She would then trot off to get him.  Jack loved being with the other 10 lambs so it became easier for Josephine to locate him amongst the lively little group. 

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nother time, early one morning, when I was fast asleep, Great Uncle Norman came in and said, “We are in trouble!  One of the ewes needs help”.  Evidently, Lily had been calling and calling to him – she was staying close to Pandora and baaing with great gusto!  I jumped out of bed, threw on some old clothes, clipped my fingernails, washed my hands with Dettol and rushed into the paddock.   After being woken up out of a deep sleep, without any drink or breakfast, having just turned 60, and not being as fit as I should be, I found it very difficult chasing up and down the very steep paddock, together with Great Uncle Norman, trying to catch Pandora.  “I can’t do this – I haven’t got the energy – we need to get her into the pen”, I puffed. 

Sure enough, once penned, we could see the lamb’s head and one foot, but it was stuck.  Our kind neighbours had helped twice before, but I had only watched.  This time, we knew we had to do it by ourselves – which took us a little while!  However, we were very proud as, finally, out popped a male followed by a female.  Pandora was a very happy mum! And ……. all this time, Lily stayed on the other side of the pen, right up against the gate, watching the whole process. 

After the little female lamb had her first drink and could only just stand, she wobbled over to Lily and gave her a couple of gentle little kisses through the wire.  Lily looked at her in a very motherly, caring manner.  It was almost unbelievable.  We named the lamb Sweet Pea. We left Pandora and her offspring in the pen for a few hours to make sure they were okay and during that time Lily stayed close by.  I said to Great Uncle Norman, “She is a midwife, baa excellence!” 

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hen it was Desmine’s turn.  I could see her walking around in circles and making sheep-grumbling noises, which are special sounds they make when talking to their lambs – especially if they are worried about something.  I guessed she had given birth, but must have needed help.  Off I went to see what was wrong.   We hadn’t crutched Desmine, so her baby couldn’t work out how to find a teat.  The first few drinks of milk are very important to their offspring.  Because Desmine’s wool was very long and so was the grass, there was no space in-between.  I lifted a handful of wool and gently pushed the lamb onto a teat.  Sheep learn by smell and as I had touched and helped the little white lamb, she must have thought I was her mum – she kept coming to me for a drink, bunting me gently!   

I knew I had to crutch Desmine.  I clambered up the steep slope, grabbed the clippers, and slid back down again.  I lay on the grass with my head under Desmine while I worked.  I was very surprised – she let me remove lots of wool from under her belly.  She knew I was helping and she simply continued her soft grumbling while standing still, nuzzling her baby.  She had never let us do that before – as soon as she saw the clippers, she ran away! 

Desmine and her lamb (Great Uncle Norman named her Desminx) were very, very close.  Lily was a Grandbaa again, but this time she didn’t seem to need to lamb-sit as often as she did for Desminor.  Perhaps male lambs are more independent, or perhaps it was because Desmine was more relaxed.  Desminx often spent time near Lily and sometimes went to her by mistake for a drink of milk – Lily would give Desminx a little nuzzle before the lamb ran away again to find her real mum.   For the first few days Desminx remembered me helping and must have thought I was like another mum or Grandbaa (or Baaaunty?).  I was so lucky – she would let me lay in the grass close beside her while stroking her lovely, soft wool and talking to her.  Desmine, nearby, would look at me as though so say, “You go ahead, you enjoy yourself.  I am quite happy for you to be with my new baby”.   

And that is the absolute truth!   When she was about a week old, Desminx didn’t let me stroke her any more – she was growing up!  That’s okay, because Desmine loves having her ears rubbed and I still have my Lily, who simply adores a massage!   Desminx has been very aptly named – she seemed to be the main troublemaker.  At around 7.00 pm every night, the lambs would line up for racing, jumping and making a general nuisance of themselves around the mothers – with Desminx in the lead.  Sound familiar? 

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h, yes, this is what farming life is all about.  Sometimes it is not easy and then the lambs arrive ……  one of the best times of the year.

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STORY FIVE – LILY BECOMES A GRANDBAA

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Photographs:

1 – Jeremy, the ram

2 – Shayne, a ram lamb (about 6 weeks old)

3 – Oscar, the ram

4 – Desmine with Desminx in the background

5 – Mork, a ram lamb (newly-born)

and yes, his twin ewe lamb was named Mindy

6 – Spatz and Sox (about 4 weeks old)

 

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ne day, in September 2001, an Arapawa ram lamb was born on our 10 acre farm at Matakana.  At that very moment, I was watching CNN news and named the ram Jeremy, in memory of a very brave American, named Jeremy Glick. 

Jeremy’s mother was called Blossom and she was not feeling well.  He seemed to know and while the other lambs played games, chasing each other and having fun, Jeremy stayed close to his mother.   On one occasion, I watched Blossom, laying in the sun, chewing her cud and looking very contented because Jeremy was giving her gentle little kisses around her head.  It was a very special moment – I really didn’t think animals behaved in such a caring way.

Jeremy didn’t grow as large as the other ram lambs, because Blossom didn’t have much milk.  However, he continued to be a very gentle ram and was very friendly. 

In January 2002, our neighbours decided to buy two Arapawa ram lambs and they chose Jeremy and Oscar.  In May 2002, Blossom died peacefully in her sleep and she was buried on the farm under a tree.  She was an old lady in sheep years and appeared to enjoy having a lamb late in life – she was an excellent mother. 

In June 2003 we asked our neighbours if we could borrow Jeremy for mating.  The neighbour’s flock included several other males and they had become good friends, but Jeremy and Oscar were especially close. 

Jeremy was brought through a gate while his friends were left on the other side.  Animals must feel unhappy when they are separated from their normal environment as Jeremy didn’t know what to do.  He called and called for his mate, Oscar.  It seemed he was very unsettled.  After a while he made friends with all the ewes, and became a real “gentle-ram”.  His mother would have been proud! 

After about three months Jeremy was escorted home again.  We watched as he was reunited with Oscar.  They rushed around each other, butting heads gently.  They stayed close together for quite some time, walking around while touching shoulder-to-shoulder!  However we are certain he didn’t really mind visiting – he had lots of attention from us, along with all those lovely ewes. 

In November 2003, I could see Desmine (Lily’s adult daughter) preparing a place in the paddock to have her lamb.  She was scratching the ground, walking around in circles, sitting down, and standing up again.  Finally, she seemed to be comfortable.  After a couple of hours, before it got dark, I decided to check on her.   When Desmine saw me, she started to baa VERY loudly – she was almost baa-screaming.  That is unusual for a sheep!  “Oh dear, I hope she is OK”, I thought (I was in my good clothes, but wearing gumboots).  “Oh well, if she needs help, it doesn’t matter what I am wearing – I’ll go and see what the problem is”.   

When she saw me, Desmine gave me a “please help me” look.  Desmine started to baa even louder as I came closer and I could see why.  She was trying to give birth to her lamb, and although its head and desminelambdscf0135r.jpgfront hooves could be seen, it seemed to be stuck.   I cupped my hands around the lamb’s head and front legs and gave a gentle pull.  All the time I talked very quietly and gently to Desmine.  Now, we all know Desmine can’t understand words, but she certainly understood my calming tone, because she became much quieter.  I never realised that animals could communicate – I now know differently! 

After a gentle pull or two, out popped the lamb.  I had watched some kind neighbours and the vet when one of the Arapawa sheep needed help and knew to rub the lamb, check its mouth and make sure its mother was happy.   The lamb was absolutely fine – a male.  All white.  And that is very unusual – his Dad, Jeremy, is black with a little bit of white.  We thought Desmine’s lamb would be a fluffy, brown Romney, but we think he might end up being a white Arapawa! 

Desmine immediately started to clean her new lamb and I waited to make sure everything was okay, then quietly left, clambering up the hill in the dark.  Next morning, Desmine was proudly walking around with her new lamb.  For the first few days, mother-sheep (ewes) stay close to where their lambs were born and concentrate on giving their babies lots of attention.  When the lamb was a week old and was running, jumping and prancing around the paddock he found he not only had his mum, but a Grandbaa as well. Yes, his Grandbaa is Lily, and Grandbaa seemed to be very proud of her grand-lamb-son.  She let him clamber all over her, and sometimes he mistook her for his mum and tried to get milk.  She was very tolerant and didn’t say “Baah, baah!” or whatever language sheep use to say, “You aren’t my baby”.  The other mothers bunt away any lamb that is not their own!   Quite often, Desminor (as Great Uncle Norman has named him) stayed with Lily while his mum was grazing.  Lily appeared to be lamb-sitting.  Do you think Desmine realised how lucky she was to have a mum so willing to look after her offspring? So, it was a wonderful sight to see – Lily, Desmine and Desminor – lying together in the paddock.  A family.  Bonded.  Close.  A joy.

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STORY FOUR – LILY BECOMES A MUM

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ne day, in April 2002, we decided it was time to borrow an Arapawa ram, so lambs would be born in September 2002.  Because Lily was a Romney, we decided to send her on holiday to our neighbours, Ruth and Des.  Des told us he was quite happy to have Lily visit, but he had a ram in the paddock.  “That’s OK”, I said.  “She is an old lady in sheep years, so she probably won’t have a lamb”. 

On the day we took Lily to her holiday paddock, she was most upset with us!  We got her onto the trailer without any trouble, but she didn’t want to get off.  She tried to run away, but I managed to grab her and push her through the gateway.  When we got back home, we could see her from our house, and she was baaing and baaing.  Never for a moment did we think she would be unhappy.  She is only a sheep, after all!  Now we know better.  The Arapawa sheep were also upset – they were looking across to Lily and baaing in response.   We were unhappy knowing that Lily was unhappy, but Des checked his animals every day and Lily soon found she had a new friend and so did he.  Des said he enjoyed having a pet sheep. 

Whenever we looked across to where Lily was grazing, she would be at one end of the paddock and the rest of the sheep would be at the other end.  “No chance in her having a lamb”, said Des. Several weeks later, it was time to bring Lily home again.  This time we had no trouble getting her onto the trailer or off again.  She was very happy to see her old friends, the Arapawa sheep. A few weeks later I said to Great Uncle Norman that I was sure Lily was going to have a lamb – she was getting a big tummy.  When I repeated this to Des, he thought I was joking.  “I’m not joking.  I’m sure of it”, I exclaimed. 

One morning, exactly 154 days after Lily went on holiday, I was eating breakfast on the front deck, enjoying the view.  Suddenly, Lily started baaing with great gusto!  It was a new sort of baa – I hadn’t heard anything like it before.  It was coming from a patch of bush, a couple of paddocks away, where the ewes were awaiting lambing time.  I called to Great Uncle Norman and told him what I had heard.  We decided we had better check to make sure Lily was okay. 

Great Uncle Norman went down into the paddock – he seemed to take so long, I became concerned.  Then, all of a sudden, he walked out of the bush holding a little white lamb – a female.  Behind him walked Lily.  Well, she didn’t walk – she strutted!  And every few paces she would baa.  This time it was another new baa – it was the loudest, proudest baa I have ever heard.   Norman brought the lamb and Lily into the paddock nearest the house where we could keep watch.  Lily was the best sheep-mother of all – none of the Arapawas showed the same devotion to their lambs.  Lily looked after hers as though she was the most special lamb in the world! 

A couple of nights later it was raining and very cold.  Great Uncle Norman made a jacket out of a plastic Mitre 10 shopping bag.  At the bottom of the bag he made two holes for the lamb’s back legs and put her front legs through the bag’s handles. That spring the weather was very wet and cold and poor Des lost five of his first seven lambs.  Great Uncle Norman suggested we should let Des adopt Lily’s lamb, so we gave her a name that could be shortened to “Des” – we named her Desmine.  Look the word up in a dictionary.  It is very appropriate.   

We invited Ruth and Des to meet the new lamb, without telling them what we had in mind – intending to present them with adoption papers, but we didn’t have them ready in time!   When Ruth and Des arrived, we handed Desmine to Des (she was still quite tiny) and told him that when she was older, we would give her to him.  He looked at us in a very strange way (we thought) then said “Well…. as a matter of fact, we are selling our farm, so, although we really appreciate the thought, Desmine can remain with you”. 

Ruth and Des are happy in their new home.  They visit us sometimes and we all enjoy the story about Lily and her holiday! Lily and Desmine still live on our farm and appear to be very happy and so are we – and now we have two, very special, pet Romney sheep.

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