Tuesday, March 3, 2009

I promise new experiences

Although being a shepherd can be a solitary occupation, Dave and I have been lucky enough to work together. Sometimes we are especially blessed when family and friends work along side us.

With Tom Sawyer as a role model, we have enticed countless city folk to join us at the farm during shearing, lambing and haying. We work them hard, but always promise new experiences, and most have returned to play again.

Our daughters Amber and Laurel are the most amazing volunteers. They helped with lambing every year of their childhoods from the time Laurel was four and Amber was eight. They fed bottle lambs, helped feed moms, ran errands, lay on top of ewes who needed to be restrained, baled hay, and checked the barnyard several times a day for new lambs. When they weren’t helping in the barn, they did laundry, fixed meals and washed dishes. They’ve continued to help out at the farm when their schedules allow.

One year Laurel and her husband Gautam arrived for a long planned vacation half way through haying. They put on jeans, long sleeved shirts and leather gloves to lift and stack 50 pound bales of hay on the back of a hay wagon, in the sun, for an entire week of 80 degree weather. Not the vacation they had planned.

Amber and her husband Jesse came to help last weekend and brought Jesse’s dad, Carl, to experience the farm too. They cooked, washed dishes, did laundry, and helped feed lambs and moms. When a new baby needed to be warmed, Carl brought him into the house and then dried him carefully. When he left, Carl thanked us.

Dave’s mom, Alice comes for four or five days every year during lambing. She cooks, does dishes, washes clothes and feeds lambs. I think she is reminded of her childhood on a dairy farm and glad she no longer has to be a farmer the rest of the year.

I don’t envy the shepherds out alone in their wagons on the western plains. I lambed alone back when Dave worked full time away from home. It was hard work, frustrating and exhausting. Lambing with someone else is less frustrating, less exhausting and less work.

Tom Sawyer had it wrong; working along side your partner, your daughter, your mother, your friend, is more fun than doing it alone and way better than having someone else do the job for you. Because amazingly often, lambing brings new experiences for Dave and I too.

1 comment:

  1. It was an exciting and fun new experience for me to watch the lambing progress. I don't know how much help I was but I learned a ton, enjoyed the cute lambs and most of all the time spent with you, Dave, Jesse, Amber, and Alice. It's an amazing amount of work tending the lambs every few hours and a joyful surprise to find new healthy lambs standing right up next to their proud mothers. Thank you for your gracious hospitality. Avi and JiJi were thrilled to see the pictures of the lambs bearing their nicknames and we are all looking forward to the painted lamb festival in August.