Meet Monty


Monty was born three weeks ago, but his mother rejected him. So, instead of being outside with this lot:

Four baby lambs, two three weeks old, two a fortnight old.
Four baby lambs, two three weeks old, two a fortnight old.

Monty is living in the house….and spending more time in the garden as he grows increasingly independent.

His mother and another ewe gave birth to twins on the same day – and both mothers rejected the males; butting them away quite roughly, so we took them into the house.
One little chap was just too weak to make it, and we thought we had lost Monty too on the second morning. We looked into his box expecting the worst…but a little grizzled head was lifted slightly, and Monty battled on.

Leo spent endless time getting him to take milk – he had no idea of sucking, so Leo rehydrated him first with water around his mouth, then rubbing milk into his lips until his mouth opened…and then coaxing him to take milk from the bottle.
And why Leo?
Because when he was a little boy of seven, his sister was born and his job was – when he had done his homework, finished his rows of weeding in the garden and washed up after supper – to get the baby girl to take a bottle before rocking her to sleep in her pram. No easy task, from what he remembers!
He reckoned that if he could get his sister to take a bottle, Monty would be no problem…and so, after a day of patient coaxing, it proved to be.

Monty slept and drank, slept and drank….and then began to take an interest in his surroundings. He tried to latch onto the Alsatian – who fled to the sofa and then, as Monty became capable of reaching the sofa himself, would take one look at the approaching lamb and head for the hills…

The Alsatian, legging it
The Alsatian, legging it

So Monty is making do with Leo….

Leo and the Lamb
Leo and the Lamb

We bought the sheep last year – with a view to mutton – and they were a distinctly mixed lot.
Monty’s colouring is predominantly that of the Barbados Blackbelly breed – apart from the white tip on his tail – but you can see from the photograph of the other four that they are a decidedly diverse little bunch!
We certainly won’t be winning any prizes for best in breed, but they are easy to keep, out on the pasture in the early morning to get the grass while it is wet with dew, then up to the shelter in the heat of the day to chew the cud and vociferously demand extra rations of sugar cane and banana stems – vastago – chopped small.
Taking a bucket of bananas in to them needs a talent for swift movement, otherwise their sharp little hoofs have your feet pinned to the ground in seconds while they jostle for the contents.

And Monty?
The aim is to wean him and reintroduce him to the others…he accompanies Leo into the shelter to cut cane and, while not exactly accepted, is not attacked either, so the next step will be to go out on the pasture with him for increasing lengths of time.

That’s the aim…..but I wouldn’t be altogether surprised to find that we have to get another sofa for a sheep….because these two won’t be too pleased

Fifi and Tot
Fifi and Tot

if Monty takes over their bed….

Bed? Whose bed?
Bed? Whose bed?

81 thoughts on “Meet Monty”

  1. Ha ha that reminds me of when we were farming in Raffingora, Rhodesia as it was then. I raised a small lamb on a bottle and my Great Dane was adopted as Mum. He was incredibly patient with her except for when she decided to try and find milk!!! Not his idea of fun then :-)) Keep well you two and I hope Monty goes from strength to strength. Diane

  2. How beautiful is Monty!! I hope he grows up to be big strong and happy. I would so live to live on a farm and to be surrounded by animals. My wish someday is to be able to buy a big property so I can turn it into a haven for unwanted animals.

    1. Oh good, that’s at least one happy ending. He looks like a dog tbh. I am still perplexed about how a small dog (Snowy) can manage to take up a whole sofa. He takes up more than large dog Pippa does. A lamb would be an interesting addition. I can imagine walking a lamb around Gibraltar, although we have seen people doing it in Spain, and taking them on motorbikes.

  3. What a lovely story! How easy our children have things these days too – my lot don’t do half what Leo did and even now are pretty hopeless at helping each other or sorting out Pippin’s needs…I blame the parents of course.
    Mind you – Monty sounds like he might be on the spoilt side ..allowed on the bed and probably getting his own sofa? Goodness me! Don’t let Pippin hear that!

    1. Well, the dogs inhabit the chairs, sofa and the old daybed on the balcony…so I suppose that a sheep in addition won’t be too bad….but we’ll be making an effort to return him to sheepdom…

      I think Leo’s parents treated him like a drudge….a seven year old could of course help out with a baby – he had his share of nappy changing too – but making him responsible for the evening feed and getting her off to sleep while the parents relaxed was not on in my book.
      He should have been in bed himself.

      1. Absolutely, Helen – I know my husband did a lot for his brothers and sometimes complains at ours being ‘spoilt’ – which I deny – but he HAD to as his mother was ill and his father out working. He missed a lot of his own childhood in a way and sometimes, this really shows.
        Right now, my three youngest (including Pippin) are happily playing outside with nothing more exciting than a carrot each!

        1. Leo’s father was working long hours, from what I can gather, trying to put the family back on its feet after the war, but his mother was at home full time so the situation was not as difficult as in your husband’s family.

          And what does Pippin make of a carrot, i wonder!

  4. From my considerable experience as a spinner hanging around my sheep rearing friends, only the thought of procreation will get Monty’s hooves from under the table. If you make him a bellwether you’re doomed. I never did want to raise sheep.

  5. Don’t mention procreation!
    The poodle is on heat and Monty is all too well aware of it!

    My grandfather had sheep….and I’m desperately trying to remember what my grandmother told me about getting them off the bottle and on to the hill.

    However, as a realist, I’d better start looking for sofas…

  6. I just love this Helen. After the day I had, to read about Monty (good name!) and how he has been so beautifully cared for by Leo, fills me with joy. What an awful childhood he had, but it makes him the man he is now, full of compassion…one thing to be thankful for.

    Our sitting room used to have two sofas and two there is one sofa and one chair, because the dogs have the others, which they have chewed a fair bit. We are probably all a bit too soft in letting these animals take over our lives aren’t we? But we wouldn’t have it any other way. xxx

    1. I felt for you so…I know how I would have felt in your place.
      Poor defenceless creatures.

      Would you like to know why he is called Monty?

      It’s all down to cricket which I know is a closed book to you, but bear with me….

      Before the last Ashes series there was discussion of the make up of the England team and Freddy Flintoff (who is not as much of a div as he is made out to be) put up the name of Monty Panesar – who, having had problems with his professional and personal life, saw fit to urinate on a couple of bouncers outside a nightclub.

      So, in discussing the team selection Flintoff said
      What about the Urinator?

      And having viewed the lamb’s manifest talent for urination…he had to be Monty.

      Luckily Mr.Panesar, whose talents I rate far more highly than do the England selectors, will not read this blog.

      As for Leo’s childhood….well, thank goodness he could go to his father’s family in Belgium for the holidays!
      I’m not sure whether you could say he was abused…father’s belt was more current then than now, though only used on him, not his younger brother…but he was certainly exploited.
      He says he thought his childhood was normal – until he compared it with that of his cousins….and the love in his daily life came from the nuns who taught him in primary school. He still remembers them and their names.

      And as for sofas and chairs…we inherited these, and the animals are welcome to them – neither of us like lounging, and if they can use stuff that we don’t want then they are welcome to it.

      1. Haha The Urinator..thanks for the explanation. Thank goodness for those nuns because they clearly left their mark on Leo.

        We don’t lounge either…better things to do!

    1. I’m just sorry we could not save the other little chap….but at least Monty’s doing well.
      He’s out on the pasture this afternoon with Leo – just to see how he gets on.

  7. What a beautiful, heartwarming story, and lovely photos of Leo and his little lamb. Looking back, his childhood sibling duties have stood him in good stead. So pleased to know that Monty’s destiny is safe and I hope he’ll repay you with generations of splendid healthy sheep.

    1. I don’t know why the two lambs were rejected – the ewes seemed to have abundant milk…and Monty is indeed growing fast – he is now quite heavy to lift and lands with a thi,mp when he jumps on your lap.

        1. He certainly has! He now wants to play rough games with the small dogs…but he is too fragile for that just yet as they can knock him off his legs, but it won’t be long before he is joining in.

  8. That is hilarious that the lamb tries to latch onto your dog! I’m glad you were able to save Monty. Of course, the problem is that once you name an animal you have acquired a pet rather than a future meal. πŸ™‚

    1. Poor Alsatian – when he comes in he looks around anxiously in case Monty is in his path….
      Monty is safe from the chop, that’s true….whether as a member of the flock or as domestic tyrant.

    1. I’ve never had pygmy goats, but used to have a couple of Saanen years ago – one of whom chewed out the seat of my mother’s trousers while she was weeding – father and I helpless with giggles at a safe distance.
      And I once had a Soay sheep which should have been entered in the Olympic high jump….anything a pony could do it could do – and did…

  9. The Lion and the Lamb eh?
    How nice to see the wee lamb growing strong, just a wee bit like a cuckoo, starts small and takes over the nest! So good to see these pictures, the animals look healthy enough, even if not competition winners. Fabulous collection!
    Just where you get the energy and time from to do all the work I know not. However if you keep working there is always energy, I found that once you stop it is so hard to get going again. I stopped in working 1966!

    Super post, the best yet!

    1. I’m sure the Alsatian thinks of Monty as a cuckoo…..especially when he takes an interest in the dog biscuits!
      He’s on to grass now, but doesn’t like to be out on his own so Leo is sitting out with him… there’s a job for you!

      We could not manage the finca on our own…Danilo, who works for us, is an absolute gem – he does the heavy stuff like cutting and transporting the cane and banana stems (very heavy) to feed the sheep and the cattle – and is currently building us a new house up in the cafetal.
      We do the feeding and suchlike and plug away in the garden and fish tanks…and that keeps us busy enough.

      I’m so glad you enjoyed meeting Monty – and as you say it’s so nice to see him growing strong after his poor start.

      1. So glad to meet Monty and Leo! What a great man!
        The idea of him sitting there while the lamb learns how to eat grass is hilarious! Not that I would laugh of course…..

  10. Gosh, Monty is growing fast, thanks to Leo’s patient care. I love the story of how he got his name. πŸ™‚ Who knows why sheep reject some of their young like this, but it happens often enough that all the sheep farmers I know end up having to bottle-feed at least one or two each year.

    Looking at your sheep with their flat, smooth coats and dark colours, it strikes me that sorting them from the goats could be a tricky undertaking. πŸ™‚

    1. Well, there could only be one name for him!
      My grandfather had sheep, but I was never there for lambing. I know that they generally had a few lambs in the house, but if my grandmother told me about the weaning process I don’t remember how she did it – but have a feeling the lamb was handed back to the shepherd after a couple of weeks.

      Yes, it might well take even a Higher Power a moment or two….

    1. He’s spending time in the shelter….they don’t attack him, but he has no one to attach himself to – except Leo – and he still needs the bottle, though less regularly.

  11. Does Monty know he’s a lamb? Or does he think he’s some kind of non-barking dog? When I was a child we had a pet badger my mother brought up from a few hours old and Beryl definitely thought she was a Dalmatian and therefore had all the same privieges.

  12. che storia dolcissima! anche io amo molto gli animali e questa bella storia mi ha molto commossa! una carezza al piccolo Monty!

    that sweet story! also I love animals and this very nice story I was very touched! a caress to the small Monty!

  13. This is the sort of story that leaves me with a good feeling. I’m not an animal-rights person, but I definitely have a soft spot for critters, especially ones that need a little extra care. I think you and the husband will get as much from Monty as he will get from you.

    1. I couldn’t leave him as he was…he deserved his chance.
      You’re quite right, he gives us a great deal….and it’s nice when the head is on your lap for a scratch rather than just butting you for milk…

  14. The idea of the Alsatian heading for the hills as Monty advances sort of makes my day. I read your reason for naming him Monty which makes splendid sense. My husband would have done the same for Monty – there is something amazingly tender in good men which is infinitely more attractive than the machismo of The Neighbor – whoops, Neighbour – and his henchman. I am happy to have met Monty. Now who else do I need to know to be up to speed?

    1. Real men are those who don’t have to assume an attitude to make up for their deficiencies…..

      As for up to speed…..if you like rural France you could try the posts about the men in the bar. Victor is closely based on a chap in my area whose doings and sayings were recounted everywhere…After the Ball is the latest of those.

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