Muddle over lambing - and the owl moves home

editorial image
Share this article

The barn owl that I spotted flitting in and out of the yard where we are lambing has deserted us.

Maybe it decided there were no substantial ledges in the yard for a nest to be constructed on, and also that it was too busy and noisy for an ideal nesting site.

After all the yard is a through passage to a bull pen, the hen house and the back paddock.

But the owl has not deserted the farm.

This evening we saw him sat in the entrance to the owl box we have placed down the fields and which has been successfully colonised for many years as a nest box.

As we watched he silently left the box and glided through the air to hunt along a hedgerow.

Minutes later he returned carrying a small object, we presumed a mouse, land at the box and disappear inside.

Minutes later Mr Owl appeared empty beaked and took off again.

John is sure he has a mate in the box and nesting is in full progress but, apart from keeping occasional watch, we shall leave the nesting box well alone.

And the yard would have proved a very restless home for the owl over this past week.

Lambing is in full swing and if I drop off to sleep over the keyboard it is because John and I share the night time lambing duties and they are very disruptive to a good night’s sleep.

Last year our big worry was if the lambs would be affected by the Schmallenberg virus.

There were several flocks and herds with cases in close proximity to the farm, but we were lucky.

No cases here. This year’s lambs are looking very well.

The ewes have enjoyed good grazing over the winter and there are some storming lambs being born. Quite a few sets of triplets too.

I managed a fairly spectacular mix up one night as I was convinced by a very persuasive ewe that this particular lamb belonged to her.

When I went into the yard at about three in the morning she was fussing around the lamb, nuzzling and licking it and the lamb appeared to have no objection to her maternal care.

No other ewe appeared remotely interested in claiming maternity rites and the fussy ewe followed me, butting the back of my legs as she followed, to the nearest empty pen in the yard where I fastened the pair of them in and took myself off to bed.

At five John woke me with a cup of tea and the news that I had muddled everything up.

A flighty gimmer ( a young sheep having her first lambs) was actually the Mum and had produced another lamb that she was equally disenchanted with.

Meanwhile the pushy ewe had had two lambs and wanted nothing more to do with what she now saw as an imposter.

Fortunately no harm was done.

The gimmer was persuaded to take both her own lambs and I received a lecture, with my cup of tea, on checking which lamb was which.