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Lambs and Wool


The world may swirl around her, but nature pays no attention to current events. Still the cycle of life continues to spin despite the doings of humans. The woods are teeming with bear cubs, spotted fawns, downy chicks, and sweet baby bunnies. Lime green new growth edges the fir branches and wide, brilliant leaves adorn every tree and fill the forests to overflowing. 

 

And lambs are born and hit the ground growing, sheep need to be sheared and fed. Land needs to be worked; vegetables grown. It's a natural law I've found comforting, that amidst the difficult and important work to be done in the realm of human relations, nature is ever the same. Nothing can clear the mind and settle worries like a day of hard work outside, back to the basic units of life.

And spring and summer affords many opportunities to do just that on the farm! Spring begins lambing season. Our lambing season seemed to me exceptionally unexceptional, which is of course what every shepherd hopes for. We lambed on a large, grassy pasture carved out of the woods, at the end of a road by a lake. A brook provided a natural water source and islands of pines provided shelters. 

Only a few notable interventions occurred, for the most part the girls had their lambs, tended to them right away, and were up and running too fast to catch (easily) in a day or two. There was an assisted birth with a happy ending, a pair of premature twins (one survived and one, despite our best efforts did not as her lungs were not ready), and a mysterious broken leg. I'm still not sure how exactly it happened, but after one of her twins broke her hind leg near the hoof, the mother sadly left her behind. But now she is the spoiled and loved Diamond Star (so named by my kids), and a very affectionate bottle lamb. Her cast is off and while her leg still looks a little stiff, she has healed beautifully. I think in ewe-hood it won't even be noticeable. 

 


I always feel the need to add an asterisk when speaking positively of bottle lambs, simply because no matter how well they're doing there's always a danger one may bloat up and die unexpectedly. Lambs definitely do better reared naturally on their mothers. The milk is perfectly tailored to the delicate and complicated digestive systems of sheep, and it's hard to imitate well. Being ruminants with four stomachs, even the angle of the neck and height of the head while the lamb nurses are crucial to preventing bottle lamb bloat, and the angle of the mother's udder happens to be just right to prevent it as well. 

But now all are born and flourishing. The mothers are sheared and happy, and in a month or so you'll have to look twice to tell those wobbly babies from their stout mothers, as they will be chunky balls of fluff with no other mission than to eat grass all day. 

 

Yes, another lambing season is in the books, the wool has been shorn, and the hay will be baled and stored. The gardens will soon be ripe, the apples will turn red and round, and then rapidly leaves will fall and a blanket of ice and snow will again cover every inch of ground: the same cycle that has continued for eons. While for us humans, it may not have been the year we had been happily anticipating (at the beginning of the year I had declared it would be a "year of adventure" where we would go around the state and write about the wonderful places to visit in Maine and New Brunswick...tee hee...) nature continues in her same peaceful way, sifting through the seasons. I personally find solace in watching them shift, blissfully unaware.

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