Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Picture of a Lamb new born

Coming out of the difficulties of a severe and harsh winter, the sheep were focussed on producing new lambs for the farmer.

Being a bit of a 'townie' I wanted to take back a charming picture of a new born lamb. This is contra to the lambs' and ewes' instincts to avoid spooky looking humans that don't bring food.

For a brief period of time I was a self-confessed sheep 'stalker' or 'paparazzi'. Sneeking about behind stone dykes and peering around trees to try and catch them off guard, with little success.

I did eventually manage to get a nice shot of a lamb but in the meantime I took a 'backup' shot of a stuffed lamb in the Kelvingrove Museum & Art Galleries, which was housing a very good exhibition of the artists known as the Glasgow Boys.

As I explored the terrain around the cottage, I noticed that on one side of the road were the lowland cheviots with their delicate looking lambs. All white and new, except for a small patch of red on their underbellies. The remnants of the umbilical cord that attached them to the ewe. Carried safe in their womb, throughout the winter months.

On the other side of the road and also on the higher hills, were the traditional hardy Black Faced sheep of the Scottish uplands. Too often now they are replaced by the Dutch Texel sheep, not as hardy as the Black Faced sheep but with their own particular strength. They are raised by the more intensive Dutch way of farming using chemicals and are more tolerant to high levels of artificial fertilisers.

Holland is built on sand and other impoverished soils. This has little nutritional value to sustain grass and animal fodder, so it is intensely fertilised and becomes chemically dependent for growth. No fertiliser, no grass. No grass, no sheep. No sheep, no money. No money, no farm. No farm, no food.

So fertiliser is sprayed on the soils regularly to maintain the growth of the grass and animal fodder. Consequently, the Dutch Texel sheep are better able to tolerate the higher levels of phosphate fertilisers sprayed on the grass. The same phosphates that poison and sicken the Black Faced sheep.

It's sad but true that the Texel is replacing the Scottish hill sheep everywhere in Scotland, so the farmers can increase their yields, or sustain the weight of their produce, by artificially feeding the land. This does raise the question of increased phosphate levels in butchered meat produce but that's another story.

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