Wednesday, December 02, 2009

The Insolence of the Lambs

The Guardian's Notes and Queries section has long ceased to be required reading for me, but I did like an answer in today's column:

Do any other animals, apart from humans, experience adolescence?

Yes, sheep do, but it's shortlived. For a few weeks the lambs skip and play, keeping well in sight of Mum. Then suddenly they seem altogether more muscular. The look in their eye changes. They escape under gates and over hedges, and hang about in small groups on the corner of lanes. The stance is unmistakable: huddled, heads together, mostly backs to the road and casting surly glances over their shoulders at passers-by. As a former teacher I have a strong urge to tell them off.

Then, one morning, it's all over. They're back in the field, chewing monotonously.

Judy Crosher, Brompton Ralph, Somerset

This ties in with my observation that lambs can be very inquisitive whereas sheep or like, er, sheep.

On a walk I once saw a pile of smouldering hay or grass cuttings. There were lambs jumping on it and getting as near the flames as they dared. I had a distinct suspicion, in fact, that they had been playing with matches.

On another walk I had tea at a farmhouse in High Leicestershire. When I left, a little black cat followed me down the lane. I leant on a gate and looked into a field of sheep and lambs. The cat slipped through the gate and, a little wary, settled very neatly just inside the field.

A lamb saw her and was absolutely fascinated. It approached the cat without fear and they sniffed noses.

I fear that the lamb will have taken up chewing monotonously shortly afterwards.

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