Mr Packham

This was one of those days that makes you know you’re alive. Where you don’t have time to appreciate one individual second of it, tunnel-vision-intent as you look for the next job to do, washed over by waves of emotion only when you switch off and let it all go.

This would be lambing time. On a day that decided to (very briefly) rain.

The rain’s an important factor, by the way. For some reason best known only to evolution, sheep lamb* when it rains. Until then, the majority keep their legs crossed, stuffing cake** as often as possible and chasing any person carrying either a crackly plastic bag or a  yellow bucket***

Since 13:30 this afternoon, we had a goose that laid an egg on the trailer door (which is lifted and closed every night) and proceeded to attempt to build her own nest out of straw stolen from the other.

There are now four brand new lambs added to the chaotic band of pets, two jet black (Zwartble) and two white with black and white faces (Kerry Hill crossed with Swaledale). The mother of the white set had no milk and didn’t care about her lambs, the black set were found abandoned and shivering on the hillside, unlicked. A single lamb has a mother with only one ‘tit’ and no milk in it, but its mummy loves it, so for the time being it’s with her and being bottled****.

And then there’s Mr. Packham.

Mr. Packham is a pet lamb who has a severe case of the shits. Yesterday, it spent the morning in front of the gas fire in a crate, wrapped up in a padded shirt. It was put back in its pen with its mates when it developed a propensity for climbing out of its crate and setting off round the room.

At 13:30 this afternoon, Mr. Packham was fine, sitting quietly but comfortably with its friends. By 15:00, it was at death’s door, head twisted to look directly behind, utterly miserable. Thinking it was dehydrated, we wrapped it up in a cosy furry Parker coat, took it inside, and tubed it with electrolyte fluid. Then more. We gave it ‘rattlebelly’ pills (Norodine) and more fluids. No milk, so the bug can’t feed off sugar and fat. If we avoid that for as long as possible, perhaps the bug will wear itself out in 24 hours.

Himself has tubed it again tonight when he got up very late to give the pets their last feed of the day, and will do so in the morning too, if it’s still alive. Poor Mr. Packham.

Are we right to try and keep it alive when it’s so miserable and poorly?

Maybe it's a Swale but some of our Kerry crosses look like this.
could be a Swale, could be a Kerry. Looks like a joker.
Kerry hill lambs
Kerry Hills – Highway Sheep as lambs.
zwartble lambs
Zwartble lambs with a lot more greenery than our lot have.


*lamb as in the verb ‘to lamb’. As in birthing a lamb.
**hard, pellety chunks that probably taste sweet and malted. Not the chocolate kind.
***both cake carrying items, as the sheep well know, though not full time; sometimes they carry boring water or goose grain, which the woolly raiders only find after they have trampled the person carrying the vessel and knocked everything all over the yard.
****’bottled’ as in given milk from a large baby’s bottle, not as in being smashed round the head with a Pils bottle.

4 thoughts on “Mr Packham

  1. I love the lambs, they are so cute but it sounds like they are also a lot of work. You asked a question regarding Mr.Packham – I think it’s perfectly fine to try to keep him alive, in fact you owe him that. But if after you give it a good shot and he doesn’t improve, then it would be mean to keep him alive. Good luck with him and the rest of the lot!

  2. Hi Tammy! The pets are a lot of work, and most farmers think Himself is bonkers for taking so many lambs as pets, but they are worth it. We gave Mr. Packham the best shot we could, and he was a little fighter, but he succumbed to the awful bug yesterday afternoon, so that was that. 😦

  3. Aww, so sorry to hear that. I think you should find a spot in your next book for a character named Mr. Packham. A handsome, fighter type who steals the hearts of many but who loses his life for the greater good maybe. Bless your heart for trying so hard for him.

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