Lucy and her mother first came to our farm stay a year ago in March. They hoped to see lambs and take a break from the city. We already had two lambs from February, the result of a very naughty ram lamb five months prior. During their visit, we started lambing in earnest. We also had our first problems with rejected lambs and had to begin bottle feeding two youngsters from different mothers.
The great thing about having guests stay on your farm is that they provide an extra set of everything: hands, eyes, brains, muscles. Watching for rejected lambs can sometimes be difficult at first. Is the mother just out of sorts for the moment or does she really have no intention of feeding her baby? I am getting better at spotting the problem early. Left too long, extreme measures often come into play.
We all kept an eye on #26, later to be known as Dusty. She was a beautiful lamb with long legs, but she wasn’t faring well with her mother. Lucy took on the job of holding her when there was no one else to cuddle and feeding her from a baby bottle I made up with formula six times a day. There is nothing sweeter than a baby lamb and Lucy’s mom got the perfect photo of the two together during their visit.
This year when Lucy and Joanna showed up at the end of March, we had not yet begun lambing. The first thing out of Lucy’s mouth when she saw us was, “How is #26?” I honestly had forgotten who #26 might be and was wondering how to explain the end game of most sheep farms. Farm girl, Annie, quick to avert a meltdown, looked through our records and saw that #26 had been renamed Dusty and was now going to be one of our breeding stock. Disaster averted. We all ran to the barn to see if Dusty remembered the girl who had held her in her arms only a year ago.
During their entire stay, Joanna and especially Lucy were good sports about the lack of lambs at Leaping Lamb Farm. We explained the delay. We had put a new ram lamb in with the girls at the beginning of November and we suspected it took him a little while to get the hang of the ram-thing. Farm girl, Annie, suggested he might have been a little shy. Despite rushing out to the barn every morning, before most grown-ups had even had their first cup of coffee, there were no lambs for Lucy. We kept hoping, up to the last minute of the visit that a lamb would drop miraculously onto the straw bedding, but one never did.
Instead, Lucy channeled her lamb artistry into a knitted lamb she presented to me. The year prior she had knitted me a ewe with a bell. This time she knitted its accompanying lamb. I keep them down in the front room as a reminder of the little girl who loves lambs and creates talismans to leave behind when no real lamb is present. Several days after Lucy’s departure, we had our first lambs. We sent photos, knowing there is no real replacement to holding a lamb in your arms. But, of all the kids who grow up in cities, how lucky is Lucy to have at least had the experience once in her life. May the once become many!
Photos: top, Lucy and #26 (aka Dusty) in March 2009; middle, Lucy and Dusty 2010; bottom, Lucy’s knitted ewe (2009) and lamb (2010)
All Rights Reserved. Copyright 2010 Scottie Jones