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Country diary: Lambing would be almost impossible without this super crook | Andrea Meanwell
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Country diary: Lambing would be almost impossible without this super crook | Andrea Meanwell

In his book The Hill Shepherd, written in 1977, Edward Hart says that “the hill shepherd works effectively with the very minimum of equipment”. I was thinking about this quote as I laced my Gore-Tex boots and pulled on my hat for another day of lambing outdoors.

There are three bits of equipment that I need with me each day at lambing time – my lip balm, lambing rope (a very thin, silky rope that can be washed after each use) and a New Zealand super crook.

The lip balm is an essential as my face is the one bit of my body exposed to the elements all day and my lips get very chapped by the wind, the rope is to put around the feet of a lamb if its entry into the world is proving difficult, and pull the lamb out gently. Sometimes the rope will be put around one foot to keep it in place while I feel around and locate the second leg if a yow is trying to lamb with “one leg back”.

The vast majority of lambs make their entry into the world unaided, with a nose and two little feet emerging from their mother, like a diver about to enter a pool. The yow finds a secluded spot and births the lamb and then cleans it, thoroughly stimulating the lamb and encouraging it to stand and drink.

Occasionally, assistance may be required, so I use the super crook as an extension to my arm and clip the leg crook on to the yow so that she cannot run away. I then move quickly to enable the lamb to enter the world and meet its mother.

It has been as invaluable as ever during this year’s lambing season, which has seen us both battered by storms and bathing in watery sunshine.

The first week was very wet, then two weeks of sunshine, and now we’re back to wind and rain again.

But the crook is a genius invention, my constant companion. I do wonder how I would manage without it; many lambs’ lives have been saved by the ability to safely restrain and lamb the sheep.

Source: theguardian.com