Country mouse – Tessa Reading

Spring has sprung, but there are less picturesque aspects to the season than those that are viewed fleetingly through a car window. This weekend, we wormed and dagged (the ovine equivalent of a Brazilian) our sheep, and those that hadn’t produced lambs were spray-painted with a big, blue B for barren sheep.

Gangs of skittering lambs are not immune to human intervention either. From an early age, each one has an elastic band fitted to its tail so that it will fall off and cut the risk of infection from fly strike. Having applied the band, I like to give each one a quick cuddle before they skip away, tails wiggling frantically. I doubt it’s much consolation for the lamb, the rubber band looks pretty uncomfortable.

As we worked, blossom and daffodils bloomed confidently in the spring sunshine, but they were no match for the fruity wafts emanating from the kennels’ flesh house. Birth and death are always close at hand in the country. When the day’s work was complete, last year’s lambs made a different kind of debut when they appeared on the table in the form of a particularly delicious Moroccan style stew.