The Scent of Lamb



Today's report from the Ettrick Valley: It's begun! Two-hour-old twins in the arms of shepherd Ogg Jackson at Cossarshill Farm. Ogg buried his face in their fleece, breathing deeply, "How I love the smell of a newborn lamb!" And indeed, when I too buried nose and cheek and lips in the silky soft down, I swooned: heather and sunshine and a hint of lanolin, all melted together with nary a tarnish.

Earlier, after finding a stillborn lamb, Ogg had retrieved an extra lamb from a neighboring shepherd, skinned the stillborn, and slipped the tubular sock-like skin onto the replacement babe. Mum ewes almost always reject a strange lamb in the place of their own dead baby unless it has their baby's scent. The skin does the trick. When we checked on the pair later, I laughed out loud watching the little blackface racing around behind his adopted mama, his cozy skin coat flapping up and down on his back in the wind, looking just like a kid in her Halloween cape!