And so, we’re coming to the end of the lambing. Some lived and some died; more lived than died. It was the cruelty and beauty of nature and creation with all the drama, despair, hope and joy that these things bring with them, all swiftly infused into the space of a few weeks up and down the island.
Parks are being emptied of animals and the shed is quiet. The sheep are being allowed to take their lambs back to the out lying parts of the farm: they are strangely habitual, returning again and again to their own areas, and in turn, their lambs will become ‘island sheep’ or ‘the hill sheep’ or ‘swamp sheep’. The sheep learn the rhythms of the farm as they grow and know the paths we take when they are gathered in and the drifts they will now slowly walk with their lambs onto the fresh grass of their homes.
The 5:30am starts will continue for a few days yet, but most of the work will now be done by mid- morning and there will be time to rest and enjoy the good weather in between rounds; to let the warm sun ease sore muscles and to put the oilskins away.
It’s fitting that the end of lambing comes with the proper start of spring: warmer weather, greener grass and buds fit to burst. A literal peace after the storm. Our attention can turn towards small domestic things, like getting the potatoes in and mowing the lawn properly, and, of course, to making soap.
Between the girls being on holiday and supporting the Shepherd, there’s not been much chance to get cracking with soap. Having a kitchen-table business is hard enough at the best of times, but sometimes it feels just impossible, especially when the support system of home and family is – not turned upside down, exactly, but changed in focus.
So it’s a time of year to take heart that all of those ideas written down in winter, dreamt about
through dark mornings, protected from the cold start of the year and forced into and nurtured in the tiny spaces between children and work and dogs and husbands and sheep, can now start to grow and flourish.
Like the sheep, we can now drift slowly home. The farm will tick on until summer, when we do the clipping, but before then there is soap to make and a garden to grow.