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Spanish Secrets: How Could Ewe?

…Pablo walked calmly across the stable and picked it up. Holding it firmly under one arm he brought it to show us. A tiny bundle of flesh and bones held together in an oversized coat of close-cropped wool. I extended my hand to stroke its head. Instinctively it tried to suckle on my finger…

Craig Briggs tells the story of Missy, a lamb rejected by its mother.

For more of Craig’s glowing accounts of life in rural Galicia please visit Spanish Secrets in the menu on this page.

The early morning was bright and sunny as we trundled along the narrow country lanes towards Pablo’s farmhouse. Our arrival was trumpeted by the loud barking of his two dogs. Before long the canine population of his small village echoed their support.

Alerted to our arrival, Pablo ambled across the courtyard to welcome us. A stern command from their master reduced the dogs to silence. Before long, peace and harmony was restored to the village.

“Come look at this,’’ he said excitedly.

He opened his gates and quickly marched across the lane with Melanie and me in hot pursuit. Facing us was a small stone-built stable. Its weathered granite walls were patched with bright-green mosses and the old mortar had long since washed away from between the stones. There were no windows, just an ancient wooden door held shut with a looped piece of wire latched over a rusty bent nail.

He released the wire and slowly opened the door. A sheep darted its nose into the opening. Equal to its attempted escape, Pablo pushed it back into the stable with the palm of his hand.

“Come quickly,” he instructed, as he flicked a bakelite switch on the wall.

We stooped to enter through the short doorway. A single low-voltage bulb, suspended on a thin cable, revealed a small flock of sheep. The air inside was warm with an unmistakable odour of livestock. The planked wooden ceiling was low. Dusty cobwebs hung between thick joists. Underfoot, clean dry straw formed a soft, spongy-carpet.

As Pablo moved forward the flock parted. Standing in one corner at the back of the stable were two newly born lambs frenziedly feeding from their mother. Their long woolly tails wagged excitedly as their heads jerked backward and forward gulping down their mother’s milk.

In the opposite corner, sat silently and alone, was a third. For reasons unknown, this little one’s mother had rejected it at birth. Pablo walked calmly across the stable and picked it up. Holding it firmly under one arm he brought it to show us.

A tiny bundle of flesh and bones held together in an oversized coat of close-cropped wool. I extended my hand to stroke its head. Instinctively it tried to suckle on my finger. A soft, warm and toothless mouth sucked away on my index finger, to no avail.

On that day, this rejected and forlorn creature was only two hours old. It’s now almost two months old. Pablo has taken on the roll of surrogate mother. It follows him around the village like a faithful hound and is never too far from his side. The whole family has become emotionally attached to this cute little creature. His daughter Sara has even christened it - Missy.

A recent suggestion by Pablo’s father-in-law that Missy would one day have to be slaughtered, led to a flood of tears from Sara and the promise of a reprieve.

As a consequence of her earlier rejection, Missy the lamb can now look forward to a long productive life on the farm.

email address
craigandmel@msn.com

Copyright © 2006 Craig Briggs


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