Spring in the country for most people is lambs playing in the fields and woods carpeted with bluebells.
For country lovers, wrapping up warm for a stroll in the sunshine to watch the animals and birds is one of the great joys as the land comes back to life after hibernating for winter.
Bulbs bursting in top flower, buds on the trees and lambing tell us all is well with the world and despite the stresses and strains of man-made worries like work and money, nature is above all this and carries on regardless.
A country walk in the spring clears the head and mind. Not for nothing is spring known as the time of romance.
For many, the New Year does not start on January 1, but with the birth of the first lambs.
To townies, lambing is a certain time of year, but they don’t realise sheep really do follow the rest of the flock when it comes to breeding.
Most farm animals don’t have a regulated breeding season, just like us. Sheep are different – they all get pregnant and give birth at more or less the same time when the weather warms and a good supply of grass is available for the lambs.
Here are some tips of what to watch out for when you and your partner are crossing the fields:
* Sheep ready for lambing are held in a field close to the farm or in sheds on the farm so the farmer can keep a close eye on them
* If you see a ewe leave the flock looking for a quiet place under a bush or near a wall, she’s probably ready to give birth in the next hour or so
* Most sheep easily give birth without the farmer’s help.
* If you see an ewe licking a lamb’s face, she’s probably cleaning him or her just after the birth
* After the first lamb, the second quickly follows – most breeds give birth to two lambs
If you see a ewe pawing the ground, it’s not a sign of anger or upset. She’s probably in labour and a little confused. The pawing is a signal she is looking for her lamb.