Sunday, 30 December 2012

Driving Home For Christmas

It’s the time of year when folk await the return home of family for festive fun and frivolity. Maybe your kids came home laden with laundry from their first term in the big wide world of university education. Perhaps your siblings flew in from far flung lands. We too were anxiously anticipating the return of family members. Just before Christmas the party ended for Babs, Margo and Myfanwy. Like embarrassing parents turning up at a teenager’s party we arrived to bring our recalcitrant flock of three home from their six week sojourn with their ram fans. Personally I would have thought they might be pleased to see us and welcome a break from the manly ramly attentions. Not so. Spending quality time with ram lambs has not taught them any manners and done nothing to cure them of their “don’t you know who I am” attitude. It came as no surprise to see that Babs was now the dominant ewe and head of the flock, with Margo and Myfanwy as her sub-lieutenants. So alas it was business as usual when it came to rounding them up, with four of us getting plenty of exercise running hither and thither across a squelchy field, brandishing sticks, whooping and generally being made fools of. But round them up we did and initial inspection revealed Babs and Myfanwy as having muddy backs (i.e. suggesting that sheep loving may have taken place), but with Margo having a fleece so suspiciously clean and white as to be worthy of a starring role in a washing powder ad campaign. Someone hadn’t been doing the do! Unless of course she insisted that all rams wipe their cloven hooves before climbing on board….

With the girls hemmed in with the rams there was further indignity to be suffered before home time and so with a daub of blue paint on the back for injection against infections and a daub of green paint on the head for a squirt of wormer, our multi-coloured girls really had joined the ranks of proper Welsh sheep. Mums to be wearing their stripes with pride.


While Babs waited impatiently for her treatment I noticed a short little ram lamb with his nose up to her ear, as though whispering sweet nothings - “I love you Babs, please don’t go, was it something I said, I thought we had something special going on”. I like to think that if life were a Disney movie, it is at this point that Babs would have turned to our little ram, treated him to a demonstration of her well practised down the nose look of contempt, then in a bleating voice sing those immortal words made famous by Beyonce, “if you liked it then you shoulda put a ring on it, you liked it then you shoulda put a ring on it”. Margo and Myfanwy at the back of the flock swaying to the rhythm and joining in with backing vocals… “all the single ladies, all the single ladies”. Perhaps a pyramid formation dance routine by the ram lambs. Sadly all I actually heard from Babs was a small burp.

Having only a flock of three means it’s not cost effective to arrange a pregnancy scan for our girls so we will have to rely on other signs. Not having access to anchovies, Marmite or pickled herrings, our sheep aren’t likely to display strange eating habits. It’ll be nigh on impossible to notice any mood swings in a regularly moody ewe. There’ll be no knitting of small booties. All we can do is watch and wait, look for signs of bulging (not easy when hidden under an ever thickening fleece) and, in the last 4-6 weeks check for “bagging up”. A delightful phrase that roughly translated means developing udders or, as I preferred to put it when our farming friend explained this agricultural terminology to us, getting big boobies. I’m not sure who was more embarrassed, Dave or Babs!

Eventually the girls were safely stowed in the trailer and it was time to bid farewell to the ram lambs and head home.


As we trundled back down the lanes, Christmas music playing on the radio and the trailer bumping along behind us, in my Disney mind’s eye I could see Babs, Margo and Myfanwy gently swaying side to side with the motion of the trailer, humming along to a familiar Christmas hit…. 

“Driving home for Christmas
Oh, I can't wait to see those faces
I'm driving home for Christmas, yea
Well I'm moving down that line
And it's been so long
But I will be there
I sing this song
To pass the time away
Driving in my trailer
Driving home for Christmas
It's gonna take some time
But I'll get there
Nose to tail behind trailer-gates
Oh, I got red lights on the run
But soon there'll be a driveway
Get my hooves on holy ground
So I sing for you
Though you can't hear me
When I get through
And feel you near me
I am driving home for Christmas
Driving home for Christmas
With a thousand memories
I take a look at the sheep next to me
She's just the same
Just the same
Nose to tail behind trailer gates
Oh, I got red lights on the run
I'm driving home for Christmas, yea”