Teaspoon treatment for lambs

First published in Nostalgia

Jean Bland, 78, of Sedgwick, recalls the birth of spring lambs at her parents’ farm at Thorneyslack, Skelsmergh in the 1950s.

When the clocks have gone forward an hour at the end of March, the lighter evenings are still quite cool and sometimes there is a certain feel in the air which takes me back 60 years.

I can see my father walking around the fields near the farm checking all the ewes and new lambs, and the ewes still waiting to lamb, accompanied by his favourite sheepdog.

At his round at daylight next morning he would find any new lambs which had been born during the night.

In dry weather lambs quickly wobble to their feet and instinct tells them to look to mother for their first important feed. Once they are dry and have suckled, they are quite tough and hardy and they learn to lie on the sheltered side of the ewe to avoid the wind.

Father’s treatment for those lambs which were at death’s door, was to bring them into the house. It had a large kitchen and a large living room, both with blue Westmorland flag floors.

The pegged hearthrug was turned back and the lamb would be laid on a piece of old blanket in a small damson hamper, propped up to feel the heat of the fire.

It was then fed warm milk with a drop of brandy in it, its little mouth held open for teaspoons of this liquid every couple of hours or so.

Mostly they recovered.

When they lifted their heads they were feeling better, when they stood up the treatment had worked and if one decided to go walkabout, and it was then definitely time to return to mother waiting in the barn.

Of course, three hampers in front of the fire didn’t leave much access to warmth for family members – but the teaspoon treatment was the best available care at the time.

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