One-week old Mary gets a bottle of reconstituted sheep's milk.
Holding a newborn lamb is like cuddling a Barbie doll—they weigh about the same, and are all legs.
They are much cuter, though. In fact, they're so cute I took almost 500 photos of them while I was in Wales this weekend. And that's after I tossed out the blurry ones.
I've learned a lot about lambing, and the sheep industry. Not all of it was cute and cuddly. Some of it was disturbing. I'm still trying to wrap my mind around the paradox of people saving lambs, only to serve them with mint sauce a few months later.
Here's a bit of what I saw and learned:
I saw a "miracle" lamb, who was about to be tossed in the bin with the dead lambs, when the farmer heard her whimper.
I learned that sheep farmers raise lambs for meat, not wool. There's no market for wool, in fact, it's more trouble than it's worth to shear it.
I saw a ewe with a prolapse.
I saw a lamb, slick and white and precious, slide into the world.
I saw a ewe die, not long after giving birth.
I saw Cardigan Bay.
I saw snow on the mountains, and a weasel.
I learned why they spray paint the sheep.
I learned that sheep have ultrasounds, and are segregated according to how many lambs they're expecting.
I saw lambs in red jackets.
I learned the biggest killer of lambs (other than people) is hypothermia. But their mother's milk keeps them warm, even on snowy nights.
I saw a ewe in the "stocks", forced to accept her own lamb.
I learned that some lambs are slaughtered at around 3 or 4 months, while some are sent to market at 5 or 6 months.
I rode up the mountain in a sheep wagon.
I learned that unlike Barbies, lambs have very soft ears.