Life is a funny thing. By life I don’t mean our lives. I mean life in general. Survival of the fittest. Natural selection. Our interference with the natural balance. How much we as humans, have shaped the earth. Our influence on so many things. On everything.
The thought came to me in the middle of a particularly tough lambing. I though, as I was covered in the unsightly, that nature would just not let this happen. I was pulling on a particularly large Texel lamb. A breed that left to its own devices would never have survived. Ewes would die in lambing or be damaged to the point of being unable to reproduce again. A classic man made creation. Lambs with huge heads and broad shoulders. Ewes with narrow pelvises. Not an extra inch of hand space. In this case, not even much lamb space. When I got to her she was already presenting with just a head. My heart sank at the sight. Not tonight, I’m already tired! After ‘a fair haul’ and a good splash of patience, the lamb came. None the worse for wear. A big lad. To my surprise, after the ordeal, he was up and stumbling around by the time I was ready to go. There was even another one in there, breech and smaller, but fine.
Lambs are surprisingly resilient creatures. Ok there is never 100% success. It’s an animal with a high mortality rate. But generally they carry multiples and at least one survives. The little guys just chug on and make it to the end. Even those whose mothers reject them, mostly make it. Commitment and patience brings the orphans thought. Most being fostered on to others who carried a single lamb. In my points of despair and frustration, many an old farmer will tell me, ‘don’t worry lass, sheep just die for no reason’. They really do. No explanation. Just die. Nature failed.
Now cattle, they just seem to be that bit more hardy. Most this year have calved alone. Little assistance required. Nature wins this time.
Some of the cows have been fiercely protective. The other day tagging calves, we saw nature kicking in. Some older cows know the routine, they watch from an acceptable distance. But some protective to the point of needing to move into an adjacent pen just to survive the tagging. That is nature. That is her protecting her calf from a predator. We are predators. The human holding her offspring, is to them, a threat to its survival. Just there, at that point nature is winning again.
But then again, we throw a spanner in the works. We put them into calf with these massive bulls. I mean massive. Some of these animals are a couple of ton. Broad shouldered and huge heads. They are magnificent animals. Some of true beauty. Some so large and powerful that they could easily kill a man. Some would. Although I’ve never myself experienced a truly aggressive Bull who would attack a man. I’ve been told many a story. But when you see them fight with each other, you see their true instinct. They push and shove with their huge heads against each other. I have seen a bull throw another in the air. I’ve watched as it just gets too much. I’m told they would fight to the death unless separated. There again, nature is winning. Survival of the fittest.
In the farming world, we have truly interfered with nature. We have selected for the best and most of the desired trait. We created the pedigree. A man-made creation against natures will. Humans have manipulated the planet. Many animals and birds remain untouched. We may have contributed to their extinction or rarity. But the wild ones are left (almost) to answer to nature. The domesticated ones are at our disposal. We changed and created them. God put us on his planet. He put all the living creatures there. I wonder what he thinks of our own creations.
Sometimes we have made it better. But sometimes we have made it worse. None the less our input has changed things. So, next time I sit there lambing in despair, I can blame the human race.