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All I want for Christmas is…..Ewe. By Amelia Milne

Blog | By Amelia Milne | Dec 19, 2023

Lady Baba - my daughter's dream Christmas present

All I want for Christmas is…..Ewe

My daughter is obsessed by sheep. Yes, you read that correctly. It started with her beloved Jellycat lamb teddy, whom she took everywhere. This teddy was dog-eared, chewed and loved to death and she named ‘it’ – Baba.

Baba has been lost several times - park benches, car parks, bank counters – the usual places. Each time, I would frantically search on Ebay for this discontinued lamb toy. I would pay over the asking price just to get her comfort-blanket teddy back, with a huge sigh of relief each time when the ‘new’ Baba was back with its rightful owner.

This obsession didn’t stop there. We live in London with relatives in the country. Any car journey would grind to a halt when there were flocks of sheep grazing outside.

“Sheep” she would cry with a pointed finger, and we would have to stop the car and stare at these woolly friends, appearing even more urban than we were, as if on some kind of English Safari holiday.

My daughter and some sheep

My boyfriend lives in Dorset where we will be heading for Christmas. The question of what to give my darling daughter arose. ‘What about a sheep?’ was the suggestion. ‘You are kidding!’ I replied and I meant it.

How on earth was I going to look after a sheep. I had visions of manhandling this beast in shearing season. I live in London. I am not a shepherdess, even though it sounds incredibly romantic.

But in my heart, I knew that this would be the best Christmas present that I could ever give her. I wondered how Father Christmas could cope with it on his sleigh.

We started our enquiries. It started out as a bit of a joke, but then turned deadly serious.

The first port of call was a café owner who owns a café called the Pink Goat, who has several flocks around the area. But how would we tell our sheep apart from the rest of the flock? It was a problem. He wanted to help but he just had too many sheep!

Then the angel from above appeared in the shape of my boyfriend’s gardener, Rebecca.

She appeared with a halo to talk about ferns and hard-weathering plants and mentioned in passing that she had just bought a sheep for Christmas to add to her little flock that she keeps as a hobby. This sheep was called…..Lady Baba.

It had to be. It was meant to be. It was destiny. We sat there astounded. ‘Baba is the name of my daughter’s teddy sheep,’ I uttered with a tear in my eye.

We slowly suggested that if we bought half of the sheep and her feed for life (sheep nuts and hay), that we could we have a share in Lady Baba. Rebecca the gardener was thrilled. ‘Of course!’ she agreed and she loved the story.

Lady Baba is a Portland sheep, a rare breed from the Isle of Portland. They have fawn-coloured lambs and produce very good wool. The amazing thing about Lady Baba is that she had a dark marking underneath her neck, a bit like an Hermes headscarf in the sheep world, so we can tell her apart from the other 4 ladies in the flock.

Lady Baba - Portland sheep

We went to visit Lady Baba to check her before we bought her. She grazes above Swanage with her friends – probably the best view in the whole of Dorset, overlooking the sea from the hillside, underneath a holm oak tree.

Lady Baba seemed a happy sheep. I wasn’t quite sure what other qualities I should be looking for. Rebecca sweetly explained that the sheep eat grass obviously, but as the winter draws in, they eat hay and become tamer when they need to get food from humans.

Lady Baba has a stable like Jesus’s manger, shared with a black and white Shire horse. We signed on the dotted line.

Rebecca said that hopefully Lady Baba would have a lamb in the spring, and we could help shear her. It was a win-win situation - we had the sheep without any of the shepherdess duties, but we would make absolutely sure that my daughter would do her fair share of work to help, which is a valuable life lesson in looking after an animal. We would visit Lady Baba every visit and help muck out her stable and any other sheep duties that were required.

We took my daughter to see the sheep last weekend. It was an utter surprise. We opened the stable door and my daughter’s eyes popped out on stalks. She gently caressed the sheep’s curly head and went into a trance. ‘She’s yours,’ we told her.

I thank my lucky stars that she didn’t want any other type of animal like a monkey because I know that the Jellycat toy company has a vast range of animals, and thank goodness this sheep, being mutton, is for life and not just for Christmas!

Lady Baba at Christmas 2023