Thursday, May 17, 2012

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I've gone off bacon sandwiches for good!

Two decades ago, as a breast-feeding mum, I watched a lamb tugging at a ewe’s underside as it tried to suckle and felt a sudden affinity with this other, slightly woollier, mother.

From that day, I stopped eating lamb completely except in situations when to refuse would offend, or worse, embarrass, my hosts.  I even went vegetarian for a few years until another pregnancy – and severe anaemia – sent me heading back to the meat counter.

After an abysmal April when our walking boots barely saw the light of day, we’ve been getting out and about again. And guess what – I’m getting all sentimental about baby animals to the point where Harri is forbidding me to take any more photographs of sheep, lambs or anything else with four legs.

Worse, I’m starting to consider vegetarianism all over again – yesterday’s evening meal was a delicious homemade butternut squash curry. 

You see, while it’s easy to divorce those hermatically sealed packs of raw flesh from live animals when you spend your days in town, it’s horribly difficult to cook bacon after you’ve spent a good ten minutes chatting to two friendly and oh-so-cute tail-wagging piglets on the escarpment above Llangattock.

Still fancy a beefburger?
And has anyone looked into the eyes of a young calf recently? Those big trusting eyes and eyelashes to die for – oops, wrong word but you get my drift. Somehow even the leanest fillet steak loses its appeal when you start joining the dots and working out what happened between number 1 and number 20.

Thankfully, I’ve never eaten mutton – I mean, how could anyone look at those dozy animals and think ‘haute cuisine’? 

Go into a field full of sheep and the entire flock does one of two things – runs away from you in terror or runs towards you in anticipation. 

One of the braver lambs
It’s impossible to predict their reaction from day to day. My theory is that it’s linked to what we’re wearing. Yesterday’s pink fleece was clearly sheep language for ‘we're here to feed you’ because we were quickly surrounded by up to a hundred sheep, while last week’s mass exodus was down to the subliminal message sent out by my navy fleece (‘we're here to eat you’).

I admit I’m a bit sheep obsessed. I must have taken at least thirty sheep photographs yesterday – most now consigned to the rubbish bin it’s true – but sheep are entertaining in so many ways. For a start, ewes are hapless mothers who seem incapable of keeping their young charges in the same field, let alone under mama’s watchful eye. There’s a tragic inevitability to what happens when we climb over a stile into a field of ewes and their lambs on a recognised footpath. One sheep spots us and baas loudly to warn her own offspring of oncoming danger (navy fleece warning). Within seconds, there are lambs running around in all directions, each one beating desperately like the kid in the Rolf Harris song ‘I lost my mammy’ . Meanwhile, another ewe emits a few gentle baas but doesn’t look unduly worried that in his blind panic, junior has managed to get his head stuck in a fence.

Oh, the joys of spring hiking. Where’s that tofu?

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