The original idea of a walk up to Nore Folly and through Slindon woods was abandoned because of muddy footpaths and ankle deep puddles. Fortunately, an attractive alternative was close at hand: lambing at Gaston Farm in Slindon. And so our plan B became an A star occasion.
It was a beautiful sunny Spring day, quite a rare occurrence during March 2018. In total we were a happy band of eighteen, including two children. Cars parked, we approached the farm buildings with a sense of anticipation not at all sure what we might see. First stop was a hangar size building where our friends were introduced to the British tradition of queuing, even though it wasn’t clear what lay beyond. Our reward was to be seated on straw bales and handed a delightful warm bundle of yellow feathers, first a tiny chick and then a duckling, each one a few days old.
Once we prised ourselves away from the hangar we moved on to an open air enclosure where new born lambs huddled close to their mothers. Nearby in a small brick building we were again invited to sit on straw bales, this time to hold a new born lamb and feel the warmth of it’s body through the wool. What a joy. Adults as well as the children were excited and moved by the experience.
Bit by bit we all arrived at the farm picnic tables, where our friends displayed their generosity and forward-planning by laying out a feast of savoury and sweet delights for us to share and enjoy in the sunshine. We also shared our thoughts and feelings about what we had seen and enjoyed being together, no one in a hurry to move on.
There was more to come. A bumpy ride on a trailer pulled by a tractor took us out of the farm, up through Slindon on to the downland from where we could see the South Downs and Bignor Hill in one direction, Chichester Cathedral in another and the sea in yet another. We saw sheep lying on the grass with their off-spring standing on their backs. Not just a delightful pastoral scene. The tractor driver explained that lambs do this to rouse their mothers so that they can get beneath to feed.
It was lovely occasion, one to be remembered for the new experiences and for the feeling of companionship.