Spring in the Lake District is my favourite time of the year and lambing season is a big part of why that is. It means here will be lots of baby Herdwicks in fields getting into trouble. "Tek Care, Lambs Ont Road" is the traditional Cumbrian warning to road users that there may be lambs on the road. The message can be seen on farmers' signs across the Lakes. It has become somewhat of a cultural meme.
The Herdwick sheep breed is perfectly adapted to the tough conditions of the Lake District fells. There are around 50,000 Herdwicks in the world and 95% of them live in the Lake District. Herdwicks graze the fells all year round and are rarely brought inside, even in harsh weather. In early April, the ewes are brought down to the lower lambing fields.
Herdwick lambs are born with a black fleece, unlike the adult Herdwicks that have a distinctive grey colour. The lamb's coat lightens over time, turning a chocolate brown when they are roughly one year old.
Herdwick flocks have a strong homing instinct and rarely wander far from home - they know which part of the fell is their patch to graze, without any need for fencing. This information is passed on from generation to generation. However, it seems they might still wander on to the roads... so please remember to "tek care".