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Love Lambs This Easter
Posted 11 April 2014
There are no creatures so universally loved as lambs. They are emblems of spring; symbolise innocence, purity and gentleness; and somehow encourage in us renewed hope for the future. And yet these beautiful animals, who we love to watch gambol and even pay to help feed during Easter holidays, are soon betrayed – taken from their mothers, fattened and sent to the slaughterhouse.
Samantha Chandler, the Secretary of the Anglican Society for the Welfare of Animals (ASWA), has a small flock of rescued sheep. Read the story of one of her feisty girls, named Violet.
Violet – the one we nearly left behind
I first saw Violet in 2009. My husband had driven my daughter and I to a farm to collect four ‘cull’ ewes destined for slaughter, as they had not fallen pregnant. We paid ‘butcher price’ for them and loaded them into our small trailer. At that moment I caught sight of a large ewe, apart from the flock, watching me from the back of the barn. She was beautiful, very large with a huge fleece. When I asked, the farmer told me he had paid a large sum of money for her as a ‘show sheep’ but she had proven a bad mother, her first lambs dying. I asked ‘what would happen to her?’ – knowing what the answer would be – but our trailer was full and we were up to capacity on our small acreage but as we drove home I could not stop thinking about her.
That evening at dinner my daughter suddenly said – ‘We have to go back for that sheep Mum’. Over the next couple of days I tried to justify to myself why we could not, but it was no good, we had exchanged that look in that barn, I could not leave her.
Next morning I rang the farmer who told me he was taking her for slaughter the next day so I was just in time.
Violet was duly collected and joined our flock. From the start she was feisty. She would jump clean over the sheep hurdles if you tried to confine her to check her over. She would snort and stamp if cornered and maintained a rather aloof air about her – always standing a little way apart from the other flock members. Shearing was quite a task! Being so huge meant that the diminutive lady who shears for me struggled to manoeuvre her but we managed – eventually!
It took a little over a year for Violet to begin to mellow. I made a point of scratching all around her head and ears when she came in for foot maintenance or any treatment. At first she used to have an expression on her face of resignation but after a while she came to enjoy the fuss and now will happily sidle up to me in the field for a good scratch. In the winter when they come in for feeding they wait outside the sheep pen while I fill the troughs and she has a habit of putting her front foot up on the rail like a great woolly ballerina! Whilst I shouldn’t really have favourites, I have a particular fondness for Violet, as it has been such a rewarding experience to earn her trust.