Family Days Out in West Sussex: Lambs and Calves at Coombes Farm

Living on the outskirts of a small town by the sea, yet minutes from agricultural land, farms and deepest countryside, I guess we do have the best of all worlds here.  Most of the tomatoes you'll eat this summer come from here - if it says 'origin West Sussex', we probably smelt them growing!  And when it comes to lambing time, there are a few options of places to visit locally.

True to character, we choose the least commercial option, over at the base of the South Downs. It's literally just a working farm that opens the gate and charges a couple of quid to make some money on the side.  Ankle to knee deep in muck, we go as often as we can during the month's opening and love it.

This week, on our first visit of the year, it was cold, dark and raining, so we found ourselves the only visitors there.  We saw one lamb born soon after we arrived, marvelling at its strange almost prehistoric appearance before being cleaned by mama and becoming a cute fluffball.

Some of the slightly older lambs posed to show just how cute!

A bit too young for cuddles yet, these orphans will be happy to play in a week or so.

Our breastfed girls are always happy to see other mother and baby pairs doing what nature designed us to do, and this cute black lamb was at that fabulous dancing, skittish stage too.  Adorable.

With this patient, relaxed mama, baby number one came easily, but number two took his time.

Lara was fascinated by the whole process and asked lots of questions about the process, comparing it to her own and her sisters' births.  She remembers it all vividly, so had lots to say whisper and ask questions about, from amniotic fluid and muscular surges to the ridiculous notion that anyone should need to actively push, rather than relaxing and letting the body do its thing.  A natural birther in the making!

Tatiana was busy elsewhere, with this ewe happily dozing off on her hand.

Lamb two was finally born, but it looked as though the ewe would reject him, so the farmer lay the first baby over the new one to ensure she would recognise it and wouldn't just wander off.

Luckily this worked and the ewe began cleaning the second lamb.  The farmer and a student vet both commented on how patient, calm and quiet Lara had been for the whole process.  She was truly fascinated.

The farmer then urged us to head back to the cowshed because a calf was imminent.  Lara wanted to photograph this one, so I helped her to compose and focus the camera and she got some great, if rather graphic, shots.

We were amazed at how pure white the unborn calf's hooves were.

Not sure what happened with the light, but here is our nearly born calf.

So much learning, and wonder, in one afternoon.

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