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Be by Becky Wells A 38


nature’s friend


If you’ve ever read EB White’s ‘Charlotte’s Web’ or watched the film ‘Babe’, you will know how welcome I felt when I entered Hillman’s Farm in Twineham to meet Janet and Alan and their animal menagerie.


s I drove through the gates, a chorus of dogs barked in anticipation of the strange car approaching their home. Excitedly, they announced to their human companions that a stranger was arriving. I swear, in the glimmer of


the headlights, I saw a spider start to weave the word welcome into its web. You may be wondering what all this has to do with exercise, but I say: what better way to keep fit than working outdoors, with nature and for nature? Janet and Alan Hillman kindly allowed me into their home to observe their sheep lambing during the first couple of months of the year, and the Big Day was finally here. Back in


SUSSEX LIVING March 2012


December, I had been down to visit the sheep in lamb. Each sheep is known by the couple; you can tell they have total trust in their human companions. I met Edelweiss – the first to stick her head out to see who the stranger was and have her ear and head scratched. Awkwardly stretching her neck, giraffe-like, she then tried to reach a food bag which had been put safely out of reach.


I also met Robbie and Ritchie, two young calves. Ritchie had more spring than Zebedee as he bounced about the pen like an excited kid. I had been given the job of bottle feeding them one evening – an unforgettable experience. And I couldn’t believe the size of the bottles!


Ziggy, the sheepdog, was curious to meet me too, and when he realised that I owned the perfect back-and-ear- scratching fingers, we soon became friends. Along with the sheep, calves and dogs, the farm is home to an array of ducks, bantams, two goats and a gaggle of geese.


As lambing time drew nearer, I began to keep my diary free to make sure I was ready to drive over at short notice. A bit like a school kid waiting for the bell to ring on the last day of term, my anticipation mounted. When the phone call finally came, I packed my wellies and warm clothes and set off to Twineham, complete with camera round my neck and notebook in hand, like something straight out of Countryfile. I arrived just in time to see one lamb being born, only to see it die shortly after due to a birth defect. However, its twin soon followed, letting out a small bleat as it took its first breaths in the world. I think that was the point where my heart melted – ➳


continued on page 40 www.sussexliving.com


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