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The 5.14 from Charing Cross to Staplehurst is the most crowded train of the day. No surprise then that as it pulled out with me wedged indecently closely to the least attractive other travellers my phone buzzed. Since it was Sarah I didn’t dare ignore it. But, as always on trains, I just grunted ‘Yup?’

‘DINKY’S HAD TWINS’ she shrieked, loud enough for the ten closest to me to hear. Now, they thought my daughter was called Dinky and she’d had twins and probably that they were called Pinky and Perky.

I was also alarmed. Dinky is one of the Shetlands, and to our knowledge, none of them had met a ram in the recent past, although – and this is the polite version – a possibly tired vet had pronounced that one of them might have an infection since her udders were full.

I grunted inarticulately to Sarah – something like ‘how weird. Oh well. Lock her up and we’ll see in the morning.’ That certainly gave my neighbours something to think about.

At home it turned out that Dinky had indeed dropped a couple of whopping lambs, not pure Shetland, and thinking back it became clear that over winter we’d hosted someone else’s South Downs (ugly, retarded looking sheep), along with a couple of impossibly juvenile rams. Perhaps not so juvenile. Dinky – and now we know from a repeat performance, Victoria – had hopped over two hedges, got laid, and hopped back. Producing in the process two ewe and one ram lambs – Shetland cross South Downs.  Big buggers too. Victoria’s was a breech in fact, which meant lots of rope and some serious pushing and pulling. Sarah had been trying to do this alone, to the phoned instructions of very close friend and highly professional Annathevet, but in the end we had to have a real live vet visit to sort it out. 

So – we’ve gone from nine to 12 sheep in a week without having planned it. Sarah’s a lamb Mum again (she really does refer to them as ‘my babies’), and the house if full of bottles, teats, powdered mild, lamb creep (not a pervert, a food), and books on lamb diseases. Annathevet is proud of the progress of her student Sarah. Glenn the Shepherd and Wendy the Shepherdwife are also proud and got a full update.

I am proud too. Sarah displays fortitude, remarkable knowledge, and a strong stomach all of which I sorely lack.

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