Winter farm-sitting day 3: dead lambs and a bastard horse

Rutherglen Travel Blog

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The first job of the day was to check the sheep. The ewes were due to be lambing (giving birth) this week, so we had to go around all the paddocks each morning to check that there weren't any abandoned lambs, or lambs that were reluctant to come out.

On our first day, we already found two dead. The first was completely dead; some of its intestines were hanging out of its slim belly, and its eyes and tongue had been pecked out. We carried it over to a tree where we left it for the birds. The second lamb was barely alive. In fact, I thought it was dead, until it tilted its head and let out a wimpy 'baa'. I jumped off the bike and carried it in my lap as Ali and I sped back to the house.

We were checking the sheep on the two-wheel motorbike. Luckily we both have small bums, so we both fit on the bike, it just means I have to hang on and lift my legs off the ground. With the lamb in my arms, I had no hands to hang on with, and we were going much faster than usual, on much muddier ground than I was used to. A good sense of balance is in order at such times!

We brought the lamb back to the house and lit up the fire. We laid it in front of the fire, covered in towels. Al gave it a few mouthfuls of a syrup that's only meant for dying lambs. The lamb was cold to the core. I sat, blowing it with a hair-drier in vain, but the bitter morning had won. The lamb closed it eyes, and as it lay there, still as a log, I felt so sorry for it. It had been so unlucky; its only shot at life was a few hours, in which it happened to rain and be bitterly cold. But the lamb looked strangely peaceful after it had passed away. All I can say is that it's a farm, and these things happen.

***

'Why do I have to ride this bastard?'

Ali tried to approach the horse once more. Again, the horse shied and cantered away.

'Because I'm riding Dobson,' I said, unhelpfully. I stood next to Dobson who waited patiently while I fiddled with his halter. Thoughtfully, he lowered his head so I could slip the halter over his nose.

'I can't catch him, Chels.'

Grungingly, I trudged over to where Ali was standing and dumped Dobson's lead rope in his hands. I took Yarraman's red halter, and walked towards the bastard. He pricked his ears forwards, staring at the halter.

'Well, there's no sense in hiding it behind me,' I said to him, 'You know I've got it.'

Yarraman looked at me, and then at the halter again. I took a step forward. Immediately, he took a step back. I took several steps forward, until I nearly charged into him. He took several hurried steps backwards. I stepped to his left, where I would have to be to put his halter on. He responded by making side-steps with his back feet, swinging his rump to his right so that he was standing at me head-on again. 'Come on, don't be like that,' I said in a calming voice. Then, I turned around and told Ali that we were leaving.

'But you haven't caught him yet,' Ali said.

'I know,' I said.

We led Dobson towards the gate without a backward glance at Yarraman. When we got to the gate, I turned to find Yarraman's nose at my shoulder. I smiled at him and said, 'Oh, are you coming now?' He looked down at me with a look that probably meant 'I don't know what you're saying, but whatever.' I slung his lead rope over his neck. He didn't move. I slipped the rope halter over his nose, and still, he didn't move. I tied the rope halter up, and we walked out of the gate.

'What the hell, why wouldn't he come to me?' Ali complained.

'Because he's an asshole,' I said.

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Rutherglen
photo by: Chelsea