Archie Hume of A Hume Country Clothing on lambing in the Scottish Borders.
Each spring, I pay a visit to my friend Grant Todd’s sheep farm near St Boswells taking along a few of the A Hume staff.
Anyone from the Scottish Borders will tell you there is no surer sign of spring than the sight of snowy white lambs across the hillsides.
A dynamic and unpredictable new element in the landscape.
‘Lambs on the road’ signs appear ahead of lambs pogoing onto the tarmac in a mosh pit worthy display of twisting and bucking. Little woolly rebels break free from the docile ewes skittering about with their pals, absorbed in seriously uninhibited and gleeful play, getting so caught up that they lose their mums and have to bleat plaintively to be rescued.
Once reunited and reprimanded, they suckle – sweet and contrite – until they’ve drunk their fill, forgotten their folly, and begun to look around for someone to play with… Then the whole cycle starts again.
Lambs are just very cute and guaranteed entertainment – they deliver the feel-good factor to farming – which is probably why securing a spot in my old banger for the trip to Grant’s is so competitive.
It’s usually around mid-March when I pop my head round the door of the office to ask if anyone wants to come feed the orphaned lambs. An invitation that prompts a stampede of Dubarry boots in a door-wards direction and an exodus that temporarily brings A Hume to a standstill. Apologies to anyone who has had to wait longer than normal for a spring order.
This is in all likelihood down to the number of the A Hume team bottle feeding baby lambs in Grant Todd’s lambing shed and uploading gratuitously cute pictures to Instagram. Sorry!
While our soft-hearted staff lavish ‘ooohs’ and ‘awws’ on the pet lambs, I get to skid across the fields on the quad with Grant checking on the flock and the new arrivals. You may not think that a lifetime spent as a gentleman’s outfitter would equip me for sheep farming but I like to think I make myself useful.
After manfully acquitting myself on the quad, scooping up stray lambs and helping any labouring ewes that are struggling, tradition dictates that we retire to Grant’s bashed up old static – his bachelor home from home during lambing season. It’s a spartan affair but amply provisioned with medicinal Scotch, a fiery nip being the frozen farmer’s remedy of choice and a perfect match for the salt ‘n’ sauce sprinkled, chippie carb mountain we bring as a gift to Grant. It’s a winning post-lambing combo.
We dine like Kings at the rickety Formica table and after a dram or two the caravan feels like the cosiest place on the planet.
When feed patrol have almost exhausted the milk supply in the lambing shed and even the greediest lamb is stuffed to the gunnels and shaking his sleepy little head at the bottle, they’ll come dig me out of the caravan luring me back to the bright lights of Kelso.
Sadly, for me and the lamb lovers (depending on your perspective – not so sadly for my wife Karen and the customers) the woolly distraction is a short-lived seasonal phenomenon brought to a premature end by the undisputed fact that lambs rather quickly grow up to become sheep.
Now, I’ve nothing against sheep – I’m professionally bound to say that they make great jumpers – but the deafening silence that would greet an invitation to visit a sheep farm outside lambing season rather speaks for itself.
So, my advice is, enjoy the spectacle while you can, all too soon today’s lively little woollies will be tomorrow’s sedentary, plump rumped old ewes.
Visit A Hume Country Clothing HERE.