Spring Playtime


The park at Highclere is now full of hundreds of lambs. They look adorable as they leap around fallen trees, jump into ditches, play tag and collect together in their own crèche systems. It doesn’t take long for them to start experimenting with “who is the bravest lamb”, finding the cracks in fences and learning how to slip under gates. As a result, whenever I go for a ride at this time of year, I end up having to practice my shepherdess skills.  My old Arab mare has learnt to be fast on her feet as we try to aim some errant lamb at a gateway. She goes from 0 to 60 in a few seconds and the main thing is to stay with her. She is then so excited at the project we continue to cavort around long after the matter is sorted.


My lovely new Andalusian mare Lara, on the other hand, approaches the lambs with interest and gentleness so no-one really goes anywhere. She prefers to sniff and inspect everything and the lambs tend to make a clean get away.


Highclere looks so beautiful at the moment; swathes of fresh grass and the scent of spring and trees in the air. The parkland extends for some 1,000 acres around the Castle, with farmland and woodland beyond, so that you cannot really see the end of Highclere’s world. It really is an English Arcadia as “Capability” Brown designed it to be back in the 18th century.


Within this Arcadia, the sheep remain our lawnmowers. The park fields are more sheltered than the high downlands so they act as the early nursery area. Many of our lambs have black faces; a clear marker from the Suffolk rams who sire them. Curiously enough, it was one of the breeds I enjoyed seeing in Houston last month at the Rodeo Show. Bit of a different climate…..

Highclere used to breed pigs as well and we had a visit this week from one of our old farm managers who was in charge of them. He told us that, such was the excitement of each new litter, he had strict instructions from the then Earl, my husband’s grandfather, to let him know immediately when one arrived. Once he even had to ring him at the Ritz hotel in London.  When he was young, my son concluded we should have some pigs again, along with a Jersey cow for good measure. However, despite the fact that one of my less usual skills is that I can milk a cow, it was an easy decision that the menagerie at home was quite big enough already. Early milking hours were not a temptation when added to the round of looking after the horses, dogs, chickens and pet rabbits and even Sheila the pet Sheep….


29 Responses to “Spring Playtime”
  1. Paul Mc Taggart says:

    So lovely to see the animals making friends with each other in your beautiful photos Lady Carnarvon, Highclere is just starting to bust in to summer life, when I was there last week you had so many sheep & baby lambs it was great to see, I love the all black one the best running about having fun, if you have any trouble trying to get to sleep start counting them that would do it ZZzzzzzzzz 🙂 The Castle was looking wonderful in the evening sun light when we were driving back across the fields 🙂

  2. ann says:

    Little lambs are hard to resist and I alway find myself chuckling as I read your posts because your life is just so normal and relateable. For example, my husband is a farm kid. His family raised both sufolk sheep and milked Jersey cows. Now an old man (60+) he yearns for a couple of sufolk ewes and a milk cow for our little estate of 5 acres. I have had to ut my foot down. Hens, 2 old horses, a young pup, and me are quite enough. I have put Highclaire on my To Do List. As of now such travel is a dream, so I will continue to enjoy reading about your adventures.

  3. Céline says:

    Thank you for the superb pictures !
    It looks like such a peaceful domain. I am still hopeful to go and visit, one day !

  4. Jacquie says:

    Lovely property and especially when seeing all the Sheep, I just adore Lara with the baby lamb. Enjoy your writing so very much. Happy Spring, Jacquie

  5. Jane Wettstone says:

    Your new Andalusian mare is a beauty. How lovely to have all those lanes and fields to ride along.

    • Lady Carnarvon says:

      You are right she is a real sweetie – and looks first rather then going straight into “flight” mode.

  6. Jordan says:

    I live in Houston and it was so fun to read that you attended the rodeo this year! The annual event is a very big deal around here and I hope you enjoyed yourself. Thank you for the adorable pictures of baby lambs!

  7. sandie carpenter says:

    We love all your posts, but this spring lamb, horse blog and photos just melted our hearts here in Whitefish, MT where spring can be a muddy season and summer is slow to begin on July 5th the day AFTER our Fourth of July Independence Day picnics are over.

    • Lady Carnarvon says:

      We have had an early Spring and some lovely sun which is a great treat. The farm I know wants some rain….

  8. Jean says:

    Dear Lady Carnarvon,

    I have not communicated prior to this, but I just had to respond today. Such wonderful tales of life in the country. Today’s photos are an especially welcome change from the Boston (USA) cityscape that is my daily visual from my office. I’m looking forward to visiting Highclere one day; though, as Ann says above, “as of now such travel is a dream”. I, too, will keep reading and enjoying your posts until I’m able to personally visit your lovely home.

    Many thanks for sharing your daily life.

  9. Jennifer Schiller says:

    Thank you again for a delightful blog post. I love hearing about seasonal going-on and especially appreciate the pictures. Cheers!

  10. Rosemary says:

    I guess you don’t need shepherds! The pictures of the sheep and lambs remind me of Psalms 23. It is so beautiful there!

  11. Natalie Graham says:

    Beautiful all around! Your horses are gorgeous. The lambs are adorable. The dogs are sitting pretty for the picture, for the moment. 🙂 Happy spring at Highclere! It would be amazing to take a hack along the roads and fields of the estate with you, but since that is a fairy dream, I’ll take all the pictures you’re willing to post!! 😀

  12. Mary L says:

    I can only imagine what a magical place Highclere must be, to live on such an estate must be heaven on earth. Those lambs are too cute!!

  13. Lady Carnarvon says:

    I keep on working often 7 days a week – l;ike others I am sure but this odd hour in a day is very good for the spirit and energy levels!

  14. Mary Beth says:

    Beautiful photos! The magic of spring is truly a special time. Highclere looks lovely bathed in new green. Your new horse Lara looks very fine, I bet she’s a pleasure to ride with the smooth gait of the Andalusian. Are they very high spirited like the Arab? The lambs are so adorable, when I see them I’m always reminded of the nursery rhyme Mary had a little lamb. How many centuries have lambs been frolicking in the English countryside? I think the answer must be since there has been an England. Nice to know some things never change!

    Thanks so much for the photos, much appreciated!
    Happy Spring!
    Mary Beth

  15. Kristyl Adams says:

    All your photos are gorgeous! 🙂 Can’t wait to see the Castle someday~ Beautiful time of year indeed 😀 Thank you for posting~ Kristyl

  16. Brenda says:

    Thank you for sharing your life and home with so many. I do appreciate your lovely home. In No.CaUSA, we have some beautiful places, still. I am pleased to also have an Englishman to keep me happy. You are amazing to allow us into your home so often.Thank you, Brenda

  17. Kimberly Sliney says:

    Such lovely photos and I just adore all the animals. I will be coming in July to see the grounds and I simply cannot wait. Next time, I will be sure to get tickets early to the the house but just seeing the beautiful grounds will be absolute treat.. I have read both your books and have enjoyed them immensely. Will you be writing any others? I think you are a wonderful writer. I am so glad that I found your blog. Many Thanks.


  18. Janice says:

    So beautiful. Love the stories and entries. Thank you for sharing.

  19. Carol Sawyer says:

    Oh wouldn’t our local Houston Suffolks love to be exchange student lambs at Highclere!??!!
    Wouldn’t we all!??!!!!

  20. Jenny says:

    Spring greetings:

    Was that Sheila the pet sheep posted in the photo of you and the Arab, she looked as if to say what are you doing talking to the dogs, she diddn’t look at all shy, to the contrary she looked a bit put out.
    Had to laugh that the Earl would like to be informed when a litter arrived, so lovely… shows how close to his animals he was!

    • Lady Carnarvon says:

      You are quite right that is my tame pet sheep Sheila who does not live with the other sheep but with the horses. She is hilarious and sees the other sheep off and tamps her feet. she come for the odd walk with me, she also tells the dogs off if they come too close.

  21. Jean Teague says:

    My husbands’Step- grandfather used to name his cows. He rarely sold any of them. Lol. He would call them, and hand feed them, !

  22. Catherine from Greece says:

    A joy to read your blog post! And I have just returned home to Greece, having found memories of those sheep.
    How fortunate to visit Highclere last week, (Friday, April 24) early morning, and beautiful green lush sprawling for miles!
    ‘Saw those adorable lambs and sheep off in the distant fields, dotting the grounds, and wondering :
    ” are those little lambs or daffodils?”

  23. Jenny says:

    Well I never, stamping her feet ! I cant imagine it. She is a laugh Sheila.

    Perhaps its as if, Sheila has said ” Ive moved up in the world now”, and would prefer to be, in the company of horses, thank you. I don’t know?
    Quite Rightly so Sheila, its quite funny!
    And she accompanies the Countess on a walk, ….oh my what a social sheep she is….I wonder if she accompanies you occasionally on rides as well? The possibilities are endless I suppose?

    I think she looks incredibly dignified, for a sheep whilst discerning her preferred company in the photo of the dogs and the horse!

    Its so enjoyable to have a giggle. ..I have to say Ive never heard of a sheep warding off ,its own kind, by golly she is a strong sheep and knows her own mind very well, remarkable….?
    Wonders never cease to amaze me..thank you lady Carnavon what a good bit of entertainment!

  24. Del Tull says:

    Love the blogs!

  25. Lady Carnarvon, you are a fascinating story teller. Your writing brings us right there along side you.

    I love the photo of Sheila taking her place with the dogs! Guess no one has told her she’s not in the canine family.

    Would love to see more photos of the critters… esp. the baby pigs.
    Like the Earl, I’m fascinated with those pink, squealing bundles of energy.

    Thanks for letting us peek inside your fascinating world.
    I’ll be visiting Highclere this June for the lupus fund raiser
    and can’t wait to step inside “Downton Abbey”.

    I grew up a bit British, (in Kenya) and have always
    been an Anglophile and history buff.

    I love the way Downton helps
    history come to life!
    Can’t wait to visit.

    See you soon!
    Sandra Angelo

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