When Farming Aches

This week has been painful….the deep lump in your throat kind of ache.

I don’t have a success story, no happy-ending to the lambing season. Instead, only lambs buried in the deep wet earth.

We awoke before dawn this morning to check on the ewes. Our expecting Mom did not greet us at the barn stall door as usual.

My heart sank.

Cliff rushed just outside of the barn door where she was busy licking her newborn lamb. The statistics were racing through my mind….he HAS to stand as quickly as possible. (Healthy lambs are typically up and nursing within 10 minutes). For every one minute he doesn’t stand and nurse, his mortality rate increases.

I wiped the mucus from his nose and dried his tiny little fluffy body to give him a fighting chance. He made some movements clumsily forward but as the minutes passed….he steadily declined.

Cliff had to leave for work….So sitting on the barn floor next to a nearly lifeless lamb and a concerned mother, I called my neighbor in tears. I gave him some lamb colostrum to try and give him the energy he needed to pull through. Tiffany arrived for support. I knew how this was going to end, I had just had it occur less than 48 hours before.

I bundled him up and rushed him inside. His breathing became labored while I held him close…using a hair-dryer to try¬†and bring up his body temperature. He took one final breath.

Did they become pregnant too early?
Was he too cold?
More grain?

The doubting….The questioning…..It’s all learning.

We’re new sheep farmers. We glean as much information as possible from breeders with much more experience than ourselves. However, in the panicky early-morning hours when you’re faced with new circumstances that are not going as planned…that are outside of normal….that fill your heart with fear, you make the best judgement call you can and face the results…however harsh they may be.

So now….even though I want to run and buy a loft in the city, I take a deep breath and another and try to remember¬†that this road isn’t easy….In fact, it’s really really hard….to stay the course….to continue being a loving steward of these precious animals and pray that the future looks a whole lot brighter.