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A City Farm – fostering two baby lambs

I'm starving...where's my bottle?

‘Amanda’s Story’ - mum of three young girls
We live in a nice, quiet, residential area, close to the Ennis Road in Limerick. My husband, Dave, grew up on a farm and loved the idea of our three kids caring for animals in our garden – ‘it is good for their immune system’ he would say. Unlike Dave I grew up in a small town, with little or no access to animal or pets. In the spring of this year he introduced the idea of us fostering two lambs for a few weeks – I thought ‘few’ meant 2 to 3 weeks! After all we already had two hens, one rabbit and two goldfish.
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You can imagine my reaction to his great idea! – At first I thought he was joking but then a friend of ours told me ‘the lambs were on their way’. To make a long story short Dave collected the lambs from a County Limerick farmer and brought them to our Limerick city centre home in the back of our family jeep! My kids were all excited, naturally enough, and named their new wooly friends chloe and baba. One of the lambs was a triplet whose mother could not feed her and the second lamb’s mum died giving birth.

Chloe’s & Baba’s first morning in the city
It was all action as you can imagine – Dave and the three kids were up and out at 7.30am to bottle feed the lambs. Dave had bought a pen to keep them in at night and during the day they would wander around our back garden, eating every flower/weed in sight. Thankfully we had not put much work into our garden – it was fairly bare to start with.

To watch how the lambs interacted with the hens and rabbit was amusing. Sometimes they would chase them around – it was good exercise for the rabbit as he was getting on the heavy side. When the kids were in the garden the lambs followed them everywhere. My middle daughter really loved them for the entire five weeks they were here. The eldest lost interest at week three and my two year old began to feed them after the second week – she, in particular, used to love watching their little tails wagging like mad when they saw us coming with the milk bottles.

Baby lambs can be very noisy!
In the beginning our neighbours thought they could hear goats. People passing would hear the strong ba..a….a….as coming from the rear of the house – I am sure they thought they were hearing things!

Towards the end of their stay with us I have to say ‘I did not really enjoy their company’, but I was willing to put up with them for my children’s sake. Dave promised that he would be home to feed them while they were here and while he was very enthusiastic for the first week or two I ended up organising their feeds from then on – this is something that I had sworn I would not do at the beginning. At first they needed to be fed three times a day, our objective was to wean them off the bottle and onto grass. I knew once this weaning was done they would be going back to the farmer – weaning felt it took ages!.

Heaps of poo!!
One evening when I arrived home from work I discovered lamb poo all over the garden. I pre-warned anyone who dropped by (we had a large number of visitors, including 23 pupils from the playschool where by daughters attend) to wear wellies. Their poo started off as little round balls and as the weeks passed it developed in to ‘heaps’ of poo! That evening I had enough –  I sent a text to Dave telling him that they had to go. He thought I was joking and ignored the request for a few days. My follow-up requests to get rid of the lambs developed into a ‘picture no sound’ scenario, if you know what I mean. Heading into week six I really had it, he had to take them away. My middle daughter was devastated but was consoled with being told that chloe and baba had to go back to their ‘mammy’!. In the end Dave loaded them into the back of the family jeep and brought them back to the farmer.

Would I have lambs in my back garden again?
I have to say, as much as I did not like them, the kids had a great time. They spent more time outside and less time watching TV. It gave them a job to do in the morning and evening and they were very proud of their little lambs. They knew that ‘mammy’ (i.e. me) was not as enthusiastic as they were but they did their best to encourage me to pet them and play with them.

Yes – but only for 2 weeks
For people that know me I am the least-likely person to ever have lambs in my back garden. Our garden is a good size, as city gardens go, however I really think baby lamb fostering would be better suited to a farm type location or I home with a large garden or large amount of land around it. Having said that, if I was asked if I would foster them again I would say yes but only for 2 weeks!

My sincere thanks to Amanda for contributing this story. I am ‘a little bit’ tempted to follow in her wellie steps next spring!! If you are a Limerick Parent and would like to share a story on this blog I would love to hear from you – email info@mollymoo.ie

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