It’s not the greatest idea to include farm stock with your church nativity play, explains Andrew Livingstone.
With this being the month of good tidings and general merriment, I will share the tale of the legendary nativity that culminated in faecal matter desecrating the floor of our local church.
In a time pre-millennium, as a four-year-old I would pretend to pitch in on our farm. I would run around, tripping over everything while hunting for eggs. Or I would spend an hour or so sitting on the tractor, pretending to plough fields.
However, during lambing season, I would actually do my favourite job – feeding the orphan lambs. Our farm in the village of Hooke was unique in the fact that with our Poll Dorset ewes, we could lamb any time of the year.
Famous Christmas birth
Whilst most farms have lambs yearly in the spring, Dorset ewes, including our Polls, can have lambs in the late autumn in the lead up to Christmas.
Rearing lambs around Christmas allows for less competition in the market, allowing for a better price for your produce.
In the lead up to Christmas 1999, our small herd of ewes looked as if they were about to pop, and not from eating too many Christmas puds!
All the served ewes got promoted into the spare stable with the chickens to hunker down to survive the cold and sure enough, December was filled with many woolly Christmas lambs.
One such lamb, affectionately (and with great original thought) called Woolly, took a shine to me as a young child after we bottle- fed it from birth. The little lamb would follow me around the farm helping with my chores before being locked up at night.
Woolly soon became a hit with the village. She was as famous as a lamb could be. People would come from far away after hearing of the birth of the Christmas lamb.
With Christmas Day fast approaching someone had the bizarre idea of utilising our little Christmas lambs to take this year’s nativity to the next level.
So on Christmas Eve, with the village packed into the church like Christmas crackers in their box, Woolly made her showbiz debut. Rumours had travelled about the special guest acting in this year’s show, but the nativity started as any normal one would with the standard hymns and readings. However, with the news of shepherds on their way to the stables, the next hymn began.
The rejoiceful sounds of Silent Night being sung by the congregation were met with the percussion instruments of tiny Shepherd’s hooks as they walked down the church aisle, with the accompaniment of bleating. Oddly, laughter began to reverberate around the church as my little Woolly had her moment of fame.
However, the poor Three Wise Men who followed suit weren’t laughing – and had to ask Santa for new trainers that year as they couldn’t quite dodge the trail of excrement left in Woolly’s wake. Meanwhile poor Mary at the front of the church had more than childbirth to contend with as Woolly began to eat her costume. Playing the role of Joseph on the day, I smiled and laughed with the locals of the village at Woolly’s antics. I’m still not sure if this is the traditional message of Christmas, but laughter has been a staple ingredient of our Christmases ever since!
by Andrew Livingston
Sponsored by: Trethowans – Law as it should be