The sheep were on the hill grazing as I walked out to feed the hogs. It was a picturesque site –forty some sheep contentedly grazing, despite the fact that it is now late December. The grass is still green due to our unusually warm temperatures of late. I spotted Tess with her twins, less than a day old. She didn’t like the fact I was trying to take her picture – because I’m not a sheep I must be related to a wolf (sheep thinking).
In the last 24 hours, we’ve had 6 lambs born; two sets of twins and two singles. That makes 7 this week, with more on the way. Each morning has been like a rebirth of Christmas for my youngest daughter. Grace loves the flock and names each new addition, in spite of the fact they are meat sheep. Of course, this does lead to emotional trauma several times a year, but I digress.
New life is simply a miracle. Despite the fact that we can scientifically explain how it happens in the remotest of terms, once you’ve been a part of a birth your outlook on life is bound to change. Today, I had the chance to be a part of the process one more time.
April was out on the hillside with the rest of the sheep, but it became obvious she was in heavy labor. I noted the time and that she appeared to be having some difficulty. I finished my rounds and went in for a quick breakfast.
The sheep will sometimes get out and invade our yards, looking for the “greener grass.” I had just finished making the coffee when I noticed they were literally at my doorstep. I rounded them up and drove them back to their pasture. April was still in labor and not progressing, laying down, pushing, getting up, bleating, looking bewildered. Two small feet and a tongue presented. It was time to intervene.
Did I mention that sheep think everything other than another sheep is a wolf? It was impossible to approach April in the open field – she just ran away. She would have to go up into the sheep/hay shed. Once there, I still needed to pen her in a small space in hopes of working with her. I set up a place, but she had other ideas – she wedged herself between two large round bales of hay.
I had taken the time to grab several pairs of vinyl gloves and some baler twine (for attaching to the feet in order to pull). I simply didn’t have time to utilize either – I grabbed a little hoof and began to pull downward. April went down on her side and began to push. I reached in and freed the lamb’s head. Within seconds, the lamb was out. I did a quick check to see if there was a twin, but no, April had had a healthy single lamb. I’m happy to report mother and baby are doing well.
Life is precious. We don’t realize that until we are confronted with death. And yet both are completely natural – to decry death is also to decry life. We are part of a circle. What the ancients feared most was not necessarily death, but sterility – the inability to bring forth life, whether human, animal, or plant. In late summer, weeds begin to produce seed at an amazing rate, animals in heat seek a mate, humans have that clock thing going on. It’s nature way of saying, “Be fruitful and multiply.”
I’ve delivered calves, kids, piglets, and lambs. In all kinds of weather. With all kinds of outcomes. Breakfast was late today. The coffee was cold. But I saved a little lamb and his mom. There’s no need to hear any other sermon on a Sunday.