Bringing out the worst in our wildlife

Blackface lambs are falling foul of very nearly every vermin species on the farm.

Over the last few days, the Chayne has stepped boldly into spring. Before now, I observed the arrival of the first cuckoo and the first swallow as signs of a coming change in the seasons, but with the arrival of the first lambs, there can no longer be any doubt. Spring is formally here.

All of the sheep have been moved into lower fields for lambing, although a handful of wild old ewes still creep and scamper over the rough parts of the hill. The rushy paddock behind the sheds is now filled with yelling lambs, and every tussock of long grass seems to contain a sleeping wooly shape.

I am not an enormously sentimental person, but I can’t deny that there is something deeply appealing about watching lambs race one another along a fenceline or playing king of the castle on top of a cairn. They are cheerful little bodies, but I wish they wouldn’t die so easily. Every day the shepherd returns with a handful of dead lambs, and I have been called in to deal with one fox in particular who seems to be taking a lamb every couple of days. No sign of him yet, but with heaps of helpless meat lying out in the open, I can hardly blame him for wading in and helping himself.

Even the red kites haven’t been making themselves very popular. It looks like we will have a nesting pair this year, and one bird has already been spied eating from a lamb carcass. I very much doubt that he played a part in killing it, but it doesn’t do his reputation any favours to be seen handling stolen property. Crows and ravens have stepped up their games, and it seems ironic that lambs, the ultimate symbols of purity and innocence, are bringing out the worst in our wildlife…

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