One evening I was driving through the fields in the quad to check on the sheep when I noticed that my pet sheep and Blue Belle were very interested in something on the other side of the fence. They were staring at a hogget who looked rather mystified with her audience.
It was only when I came through the gate that I noticed the little black blob at her feet - a newborn lamb! Plans to look the rest of the sheep were abandoned for the time being and I settled down with my camera to watch the magical first moments between a mother and her baby.
The lamb did some rolling around.
The audience watched on.
No stage fright, now.
Blue Belle was the most attentive of all, not letting the two of them out of her sight.
For my pets this was a whole new experience.
Mummy was very good and kept licking her lamb to stimulate him and encourage him to stand.
Hopefully this is a peek into the future for Honey.
It wasn't long before the new arrival attracted some attention.
Mum was never far away.
The visitors kept coming.
The hogget was very protective which from a first-time mother is great to see.
Blue Belle was riveted.
Soon the lamb had made it to his feet, rather precariously.
The audience cheered (probably).
Now, that's not very nice!
I had to chase this chap away for being not nice.
The lamb didn't quite have his feet under him yet but mummy kept working on him.
He tried again...
Rosie stopped eating to watch.
The hogget really seemed to be confused by all the attention she was receiving!
More tongue action.
On one attempt at standing, the lamb managed to wind up underneath mummy. Her face says it all, really.
With additional encouragement from the audience...
...he had another go.
Those legs are hard to control!
Success (for the moment).
All of this standing was hard work but he kept at it.
The audience was thrilled!
By now he was starting to get the hang of it.
I turned around and realised the audience was bigger than I'd thought. The sun was setting rapidly and the temperature was dropping. The rest of the sheep were starting to settle for the night.
A nice Hampshire Down.
(I call this one Eye-Patch Kerry Hill, because I am inventive with names.)
Honey was still watching goings-on with the newborn.
But with the temperature dropping and the lamb not having gotten any of that precious colostrum from mummy, I decided that I was going to have to bring them inside. I managed to use a gate to trap the hogget in the corner and tied her up while I check on the rest of the sheep at last.
Of course the lamb decided to immediately escape from my makeshift pen.
(And of course the sheep in the background are not supposed to be in that field either - in using the gate to form a pen I'd had to open it and the ewes had poured through onto the greener grass.)
I fetched the tractor and brought them into the shed where I gave the lamb some colostrum with a tube and an injection for his chill. The happy ending to this story is that the little guy made it and is quite happily living in the field with his mother as I type this.
What a wonderful evening that was.