Lambs on a Rampage
By the end of April, the farm is starting to look its best with the pasture finally waking up from its long Winter snooze, the flies aren’t at their worst and the chances are good that we will have a beautiful, sunny, breezy Spring day. It’s the perfect time to visit our farm just north of Durham, NC.
April also brings our spring lamb gang, now old enough to really cause trouble. They do everything as a group, they sleep together, play together even nurse at the same time. But their favorite joint activity, the thing they really live for is going for a run all over the farm wreaking havoc. They’re like a neighborhood gang of 10 yr old boys minus the scabs and sticks (although I bet they would like to have sticks).
It inevitably starts with a couple of the older lambs prancing and jumping, they are soon joined by a few more then, once they’ve reached critical mass, they take off at full speed. Each cute little white fuzzball tries to outrun its neighbor, with heads down and fluffy rears kicking off anything that might give them that little bit of umph as they try to get ahead of the lamb in front. They look like a white river weaving and swerving as they run through the pasture as one, taking the time to harass the rest of the animals one group at a time. It’s like a bird murmuration but on the ground and looking for mischief.
Each group of animals reacts to this seething mass differently. The dairy girls, lying together on the remains of a winter haybale and chewing their cuds, watch them with disinterest until the speeding flock makes a beeline for them. Disinterest quicky turns to a stare that contains the complete and utter assurance that none of these young beasts would dare to even contemplate using them as a mountain to climb then leap from. The flock always agrees and turns inches from their big brown bovine heads veering off towards the hogs. The cows stare after them as if to say “yea, that’s right, move along”.
Once at the hog field the gang taunts the piglets by running the fence line. The piglets try their hardest to keep up showing no respect for their elders (who are inevitably laying, stretched full out soaking in as much of the sunshine as possible) trampling over them trying to head off the flock before the fence and the end of their pasture. Their squeals of delight can be heard throughout the neighborhood along with their elder’s grunts of displeasure. As the flock moves on, the piglets look longingly after them as they head towards the chicken coop and oh so much fun.
By this time, you can really tell the difference in ages with only the older lambs left (the younger ones slowly drop off as they reached their physical limits heading back to their mothers, dreaming of the day they can keep up with the big kids). You can feel the remaining hooligans’ anticipation as they set their sights on the hen house, now they’re ready to really cause some trouble.
The chickens never disappoint. No matter how often the lambs run straight for them they ALWAYS jump in the air, squawking, feathers flying, scattering into the trees, onto the barn roof or back into their coop. The gang, as one, takes a moment to look back with glee as the hens fuss and cluck. I always imagine our poor birds as old ladies scolding the lambs warning them…“your mothers will hear about this” before going back to scratching through the cow manure, quickly forgetting the drama caused by our littlest ruminants (I really envy how quickly a hen forgets).
Every lamb run ends the same way, with our youngest horse joining in the fun. Felix (an 8yr old quarter horse) really feels the flock’s energy and will run from across the pasture to join in the fun, the vibrations from his thundering hooves reach you well before they do. As Felix gets closer, he starts bucking and whinnying trying to get his fellow equine to join in the fun, but Buck (our resident distinguished gentleman) and Ariana (our dainty old lady) just roll their eyes and go back to grazing. Maisy (our 17 yr old donkey), on the other hand, eagerly joins in on the fun, prancing, head thrown back letting out the best EEEAAAWWWW you’ve ever heard. You can’t help but smile at that sound, her pleasure is so evident:)
This attention always calms the lambs down, they slow down trotting back to their mothers for a vigorous drink before piling up for a well-earned nap. I think they recognize in Felix a master mischief maker and admit defeat.