OK, every morning starts at 7:00 AM. Let’s face it, ewes pay no heed to some strange human calendar and don’t stop dropping their youngsters just because it happens to be our weekend. No, they drop them when nature demands regardless of when that might be. If ever proof were needed, this morning provided it. We had a bumper crop of a total of eleven sparkling white additions.
Two of the eleven produced some excitement because Luc found it necessary to help one ewe give birth to her pair of lambs. He had told us she would deliver shortly (within 10 minutes) but it didn’t happen. He thought perhaps she had been distracted by another new born lamb and had “forgotten” to deliver her own. Shortly, half of doctor/farmer Luc’s arm disappeared up to the elbow inside the ewe and, after much groping around, reappeared clutching a new lamb. Back in up to the elbow went Luc’s arm for a second lamb.
All was not completely rosy, though; there had been a twelfth lamb but still born. According to Luc, it had been dead in the womb for maybe two weeks but had been delivered along with its healthy, more fortunate twin. Luc put the sad little body in a plastic sack. I have yet to ask how he disposes of such fatalities. A 5% loss is apparently normal. We could help building the six or seven additional crèches but this was definitely a morning for the professionals.
The last of the eleven snuck out behind our backs while its mother and siblings were in one of the new crèches. One moment the ewe had twins, the next there was damp, fresh third lamb. Some ewes produce only one lamb and a few have triplets. Triplets can be a problem, not necessarily because the mother has only two teats but because they may be too weak or there may be insufficient milk. Luc thinks these three are strong enough. We wait to see.
After the morning shift we went to visit a special market, le marché du gras (literally, fat market), in Limoux. Here one of the main attractions is foie gras. I watched fascinated as one trader carefully excised an entire fattened liver from a duck (I think it was duck – a little small for a goose). This stuff may be controversial but it is delicious.
After our second shift tending the sheep, Luc & Nadine took us to visit Toulouse for the evening. We haven’t previously ventured into Toulouse by ourselves. It has an underground train which we took to avoid the hassle of attempting to park in a sizeable metropolis on Saturday evening. Using the underground train was a first for Luc. We had a quick guided walking tour of some of the sights of Toulouse. Well, I say “quick” but it took a couple of hours; it would have been quick but for the ladies being constantly distracted by shops. Somewhat comfortingly, it is the same the world over: the ladies go into every shop while the men remain outside wondering what the fascination is.
After another very full day we returned home at about 11:00 PM to unwind with a Calvados which we had bought on our journey down. Luc and Nadine seem strangely unfamiliar with this French product from Normandy in the north.
Somehow I managed to stay awake in bed ‘til 1:15 AM writing these blog entries. It’s the only time I can find to do it.