In this 2022 Housesit Match Competition Runner Up blog by Jacqueline Lamb you will learn about the experience of an Australian couple farm sitting in Berkshire, England. During this farm sitting assignment they learned how to hand rear young baby lambs.
Read on to learn how they cared for Molly and Dolly the newborn lambs. The theme of this year’s blog competition was ‘Tell us about a fun housesit you did recently’…
2022 Housesitmatch Blog Competition – Runner Up Blog
Congratulations to Jacqueline Lamb for being voted as Runner Up in our 2022 Housesitmatch blog competition!
‘Farm sitting fun tastic, near Newbury, Berkshire‘
Blog Competition Entry – by Jacqueline Lamb
We loved caring for the lambs on the Berkshire farm. Where do I start, we’ve had so many enjoyable house sitting experiences and moments that have made us laugh.
Such as on one particular housesit in London. We had just waved goodbye to the home owners as they drove off to Heathrow airport, only for them to return 10 minutes later stopping long enough for them to wind down their window and literally throw their cat out!
Totally unaware, sneaky Saffron had climbed into the back seat as they packed their luggage into the car as she wanted to go on holidays too! However, the most enjoyable and fun farm sitting experiences can come when you least expect it and this is where my story takes you.
Farm sitting in the Spring
Three years ago we travelled to Newbury, England to care for pigs and sheep on a hobby farm. An added bonus was that it was Spring and mid-lambing season so we were expecting to see cute little Lambs frolicking in the meadows.
A few days before arriving the homeowners contacted us to say one of the mother ewe’s had died and we would be required to bottle feed her two week old orphaned lambs.
Hang on! Bottle feed baby lambs, what does that entail? Hopefully not around the clock feeds.
Introduction to farm sitting with baby lambs
On arrival we were introduced to our two little lambs and were elated to discover that the tiny lambs would not require night feeds but needed to be bottle fed 3-4 times during the day only. Also you bottle feed lambs just like human babies except you don’t need to ‘burp’ them afterwards.
The bottles are made with a special powdered milk formula (for lambs) mixed with water and then heated on a stove top. But the real fun starts when you go into the paddock to feed them. The lambs were housed separately in a stable with hay to keep them warm and safe, but of course they had recently discovered they could simply walk under the fence.
Meet Molly and Dolly
I could imagine we were odd looking sheep on two legs to these orphaned lambs who we named Molly and Dolly. On the first day we were chasing them around the paddock to give them their bottles and after catching them we carried them to the stable to give them their bottles of milk.
We endeavoured to make alterations to the ‘stable yard’ to try to contain them and to avoid having to play the ‘chasey’ game with them. But the sneaky lambs always found a way to escape.
However, by the second or third day of our sit they came to recognise us as their new mummy and daddy which was a relief as this was a 15 day sit and it’s not easy running in gumboots.
Now bottle feeding these adorable lambs was pure pleasure, watching them grow and seeing them run towards us when we entered the paddock, with bottles in hand, made our hearts swell with joy.
We also became ‘helicopter’ parents and would secretly watch Molly and Dolly through binoculars making sure they weren’t getting bullied by the other lambs and when we first saw them eat grass, well, we were very proud parents.
Keeping an eye out for her majesty
My spying activities were not just confined to our adopted lambs. The home owners had told us that the (now late) Queen was a regular visitor to this area. The Newbury Racecourse and stables were nearby and some of the Queen’s horses were trained at these stables.
So on our daily morning walks in this area I was on the constant lookout for a chance visit, but sadly, it was not to be. However, we were privileged to see up close up some of these magnificent horses going through their paces on the training tracks.
Farm sitting the pigs
Back to the animals, the lambs were not our only responsibility. Though we did spend a lot of time, probably too much time fussing over them. We also had three little piggies to feed. Correction, two little piggies and Gwendoline a rare breed Oxford Sandy and Black pig weighing a massive 125kgs.
Gwendoline used to be a ‘pet’ pig who would sleep in the house with the dogs in the utility room. But as you can see from the photos she outgrew the utility room. She now lives outside in the paddock but Gwendoline still thinks of herself as a pet. She was very friendly and loved a pat and scratch on her back.
Gwendoline’s two little piggy friends didn’t enjoy the same status as Gwendoline. They were going to be the No 1 guests at a family wedding in a few months time. I’ll let you join the dots here, but in case you need a clue, there was going to be a roast with all of the trimmings served to the guests!
Two pet lambs
However, I do have a happy ending for our two lambs Molly and Dolly. On the owners’ return they were impressed at the size and health of the hand-reared lambs. Also, being hand-reared they were tame. In a way they acted like dogs and would run to you when you entered the paddock etc etc.
I won’t go as far as saying they liked a rub on their belly, but certainly pats on the head and kisses were welcomed or at least tolerated.
Final thoughts on farm sitting
So, these little Spring lambs were not destined for the freezer – the home owner’s word, not mine. Instead they were going to keep them, and one day Molly and Dolly will have baby lambs of their own. It was a wonderful conclusion to our fun-tastic farm sitting experience.
AUTHOR – Jacqueline Lamb
Jacqueline is an ‘early’ retired dental nurse from Australia. She has spent the last six years travelling and housesitting around the world with her husband Glenn. Travelling is in their veins, having completed more than 100 housesits and visited in excess of 50 countries.
They have lived in Scotland and Thailand for extended periods and consider themselves world citizens. Jacqueline considers herself a ‘big lover of animals’. She regularly volunteers at Dog Rescue Centres and frequently sponsors dogs in need of special care.
FURTHER READING ON HOUSESITTING AND PETSITTING