Like a walk through the country side living on a small farm is full of daily surprises, sometimes wonderful and amazing, and other times puzzling and sad. I hope you will walk with me as I live out my dream of living on this tiny farm. You will come to know the dogs, cats, Shetland sheep and chickens that make up this farm and what goes into keeping them happy and healthy. Come and join the journey with me.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Joy Cometh in the Morning

I would like to share a tale of three shepherd's and the sheep they care for. One shepherd is very experienced, one sorta experienced (me) and the other, relatively new. Not quite a year ago, I sold five of my girls to a new Shepherd-ess and her family. Allena has had other livestock and was an experienced livestock owner, albeit new in the sheep biz. She wanted a start to a little fiber flock, and I ended up selling (and trading from them to build me a website) two Shetland ewes, 2 Merino cross ewe lambs and 1 Shetland/merino cross ewe. Later that fall, they purchased a pretty little Shetland ram lamb from Malinda at Locksley Fields.

This spring was their first lambing, and as the countdown drew near, there was a flurry of emails between the three shepherd's as the excitement grew and a bit of anxiety crept in. "Lucy" lambed with nary a hitch and produced twin 3/4 Shetlands. Then DuClair, one of the Shetlands started to lamb, but things quickly went wrong. The first lamb was trying to come out with head back and shoulder first. Allena was quick to realize something was wrong (since she'd been watching them like a hawk) and bless her heart, went to work on fixing it. Most shepherd's get a few years under their belt before they have to do an internal assist, but those hardy few that have to be initiated their first year, deserve a medal of some kind! Sadly, although she was able to reposition the lamb and get it delivered, it died right away. The second twin also died despite efforts to save it, although it lived a few minutes longer. Both were nicely marked ram lambs. This was DuClair's second lambing, so she had a full udder and complications were a real possibility. Sadness and despair were all consuming. Then morning came and Mist, the other Shetland, delivered a set of healthy twins--a boy and a girl. Joy was now mixed with sadness. An attempt to graft one of Mist's lambs to DuClair didn't work. DuClair was deeply depressed, and miserable.

Then a rejected three day old lamb from Locksley. Hmmm... Could it work? So an exhausted and worn and worried Allena and family went and picked him up. One last chance for his 'real' mom to take him...nope. Then came four days of hard work, more worry and ingenuity as the job of grafting this three day old lamb onto a three day past lambing ewe in mourning became a reality. Would it work? Battles of will ensued, a certain ewe had to be held to let a little rejected lamb nurse. DuClair wasn't fooled... but wait--it did seem to be working! Then Jerome's and DuClair's miracle.... but I'll let Allena tell you in her own words in an email she sent to me yesterday.

"I wanted to share a few thoughts on "the change" in DuClair. This morning she was trying to make her mind up, butting one minute and giving a lick or two the next. She was so confused. She got sheared, and then afterward I built her a nice large pen to play in with Jerome. There was more butting and some licking. When I took them back in and wet him down, she started licking him like crazy, well like she had just given birth, where as all day before she would flip flop. HEY my baby!, wait, you aren't my baby. Are you? She got so interested in licking him she was chasing him around the pen licking him all over. So I got the water and really drenched him since it was so warm and boom, she took him, started grunting at him, attacked the dog that had the nerve to sniff at him. Her head went from hanging, to up and alert and happy. Her appetite exploded and she tried to snatch a finger or two to go with the cookies, when just MINUTES before she refused her grain. She sucked down water like it was going out of style and kept insisting that Jerome nurse, RIGHT NOW! His poor little belly was full so he would just stand there and get licked while he dozed on his feet. She's back, I'm not worried about her anymore, she has a baby to live for. She won't let him out of her sight, and she's acting just like he was born today. It's incredible. I honestly don't think I have ever seen anything so beautiful or touching, to see a ewe and lamb go from sad, surly, annoyed, depressed, resigned, miserable then just boom, elated new mother. Her eyes are lit up, and she is SOOOO very proud of her precious little boy. He's sick of her and wants to be left alone lol, he wants to romp and play and she's treating him like a baby. He's a little put out, but also different. Before he would nurse, and he was getting plenty but his little tail didn't go much and now he feels loved, and there is a difference in him too. The hurts are being mended and a new family has been reborn from the ashes of disaster. She is the model mother, protective, attentive and full of love for her "newborn". I love the sound she makes to call him. This was really hard, lots of downs and lots of worry. We all suffered from the effort, but now, we all watched in awe of the miracle of life that was created within these two beautiful creatures. I don't feel bad about the babies now, although it would have been nice to save them. I made it better for her, and him, and that counts for something. I did a good deed, one that cost much, and it was very much worth it.
Allena (who by the way is going to attempt to sleep all night, and if not it will be because of her own little baby instead of DuClairs!!!)"

.....and another excerpted from an email from earlier today (I love this part too!):"God gave us animals to keep us company to love us, and for us to love them. They do what he created them to do, they act like God wants them to do. We don't. We sin, they are innocent, we hurt people with malice and wickedness, they do and act how God tells them too. I don't think it's stupid, childish or over emotional to adore, revere and love the wondrous creatures that let us see the glorious love of God everyday, and people don't notice it at all. If all on earth that is beautiful and loving is an example of God then why on earth wouldn't there be animals in Heaven? Anyway to my way of seeing it, animals reflect God's love, and that is why they are so special. "

Pretty cool, huh? I didn't play a very big role in this story, just some moral support, some advice and lots of prayer, but I was emotionally involved and was very sad about how things were going. I really felt bad for them--DuClair, Allena and her family. I always offer 'after-care' to people I sell to and am excited when they chose to keep in touch and I can see how the sheepies are doing. That does have a down side at times, since it still requires an attachment on your emotions, but I sure wouldn't have it any other way. Tears came to my eyes when I read about DuClair "re-birthing" her little Jerome! I'm still amazed and thank God for this miracle.

To read more details about DuClair and Jerome you can go to Allena's blog at and Locksley Fields blog at where Jerome's 'real' mom lives!

If you want to check out my website that Allena and Beau built for me go here: (Can you tell I just learned how to link to other blogs??? ;-)

1 comment:

Allena said...

Wow! It sounds so nice with what you said. It sure was hard, and I would hardly call your involvment minimal. The calls, emails and everything were answered with promtness, optimism and valuable information, We could have NEVER got through this without your help.

I'm just glad it worked and the two of them are so cute together. I still tear up when I see them. It really was an incrediably emotionally charged week. I am still recovering but content and happy about the effort.