I’m sorry, but we will have two bottle feeding lambs…
We spent about four months wandering about the UK. London, Wales, Ireland, Scotland…we covered some ground. A common theme, whether it was looking out the window or driving up the single track road to our housesit in Wales,
on the road causing a traffic jam driving up to Giant’s Causeway in Ireland
or on the hills in just about any countryside, was sheep. Lots and lots of sheep. The sight of them, the sound of them even the smell of them…everywhere except right in the cities. We were fortunate to be there during lamb season so they were being their adorable, silly selves. Weeks and weeks of observing the antics of the lambs, but never an opportunity to interact with them.
One of our housesits was going to be in the Scottish Highlands, sitting for a dog, 2 cats and 2 parakeets in a house with some acreage a couple miles from a few small villages. In other words, heaven. The homeowners had been so nice, they had their first house sitter cancel on them and I think they were afraid we would too. No way! The Highlands were on our list of places to see and what better way than to settle down with a house, a lovely garden and some nice critters? We kept in contact with the homeowners leading up to the sit to reassure them that we would be there and through that communication (plus our initial videoconference interview) we became quite friendly. They were really making us feel welcome!
One day, not too far away from our arrival I got a message from her asking if it would be okay to have her sister’s dog stay with us as well. She assured us the dogs got along well and it would be no bother. Of course, for me, the more dogs the better! A few days later she told me the cat had kittens and she hoped that was okay as well. Sounded great to me! I didn’t really know what that would involve, but hey, kittens! And finally a message arrived, and you could tell this was the one she was really worried about, telling us that two of their lambs were bottle feeding and she thought they were going to be weaned but they clearly were not. Did we have any concerns about bottle feeding them twice a day? Oh my goodness! I about squealed! Dan was enthusiastic too so I assured her that we would be heartbroken if she weaned them before we got there. She thought this was the strangest thing she had ever heard! We found out she was telling everyone about the weirdos that couldn’t wait to feed the lambs. So, being from California, living a nomadic life, housesitting at random places around the world didn’t phase them. It was our enthusiasm for caring for lambs that set us apart!
Having all these critters to care for we agreed it would be best if we arrived the day before they left so that we could see the routine. We were happy to do so and were greeted with so much enthusiasm from the lovely couple as well as their very special shepherd, Corrie. We chatted non stop for hours, got the lay of the land, met all the critters and half the family. They were all going to a family wedding so kilt pieces were being exchanged (another source of fascination for us!), the dog was being introduced and another dropped off, travel arrangements were being finalized, the kittens were terrorizing the head of the household, who swore in the loveliest of Scottish accents that he couldn’t stand cats…it was a lovely kind of good natured family chaos and they incorporated us right into it. With drinks and dinner we became fast friends.
Evelyn was amazing, not only did she prepare a wonderful dinner for us (even incorporating haggis in a delicious way), leaving more than enough leftovers for dinner again, but she also encouraged us to use anything she had in her freezers. I will say that I had not seen a freezer in a bedroom closet before, but there it was! We barely had to shop the whole time we were there, which was a really nice bonus.
Many things stand out in our minds about this house sit. One is the magnificent setting. The countryside is just beautiful and it being the height of summer it never got actually dark. The sun set around 10:30 but it was light on the horizon until it rose again at about 4:30. This resulted in absolutely beautiful skies. And of course, being a small croft, it was in some sparsely populated area so the wide open spaces (with sheep, cows and horses) was spectacular.
Of course the highlight of each of our days was the twice daily feeding of the two little eating machines All we had to do was mix up some powdered lamb formula with warm water, pour it in these bottles, attach the nipples and wander over to the pen They came running with such enthusiasm it would have been frightening if they weren’t so clumsy and adorable.
You can see in the video the intensity with which they attacked those bottles, each feeding was the same. In the evening they got some grain in their smaller, covered pen (which they were adept at escaping). They liked that, but often there was leftover in the morning for the chickens, geese and one naughty ewe that learned to jump the fence in a gravity defying leap.
So, we fell in love with the croft, the animals, the family that hosted/adopted us and the magnificent Scottish Highlands. After the housesit we did a quick roadtrip of the whole area and would not mind coming back to caravan for a couple months. The entire area is National Park worthy and we were bewitched.
Of course no visit to the Highlands is complete without some hairy coos…