With the sunnier days I’ve been working out of doors again. Back at the 40-acre estate. Basking in the opportunity to watch the wildlife as I paint.
Now there are sheep grazing one of the large paddocks. Many ewes clearly remembered that the approach of humans meant that their lambs disappeared last year.
When they see me looking, they hide their lambs on their offside and steadily stare. My heart goes out to them. We’d feel the same if our babies were mainly bred for meat.
Although I know now that free range doesn’t mean a 100% happy life, we have a tendency to romanticise the notion of free range in the UK. In fact, with cattle and sheep, it still means the horror of young being snatched, loaded onto a truck and disappearing forever.
My old friend Peggy told me that when the lambs were taken from the ewes in Moulton, the ewes pined for days.
“Their cries were truly harrowing. The ewes were bereft.”
Some farmers now try and contain the distress by removing the young in batches over a period of weeks. Perhaps this just extends the upset. On the same estate I’ve heard cattle calling for their young until well after dusk for many, many weeks.
The problem is that Danny and I love eating meat, although we do consume far less than we used to. The ewes touched me today but I’ll continue to buy free range lamb when I can afford to. But now I’ll truly appreciate their sacrifice.
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