Saturday, April 4, 2009

Fending for himself

Yesterday we moved Spring and her baby into the group pen. Spring’s baby was tiny even for a newborn and he was over a week old. He had just managed to walk convincingly in the last several days. His wool was sparse and funny looking. And from the way he homed in on my voice and the bottle, I wondered if he wasn’t blind.

Spring would have more room in the group pen, but the extra space might be hard on her frail lamb. If he walked too much, he might not be able to take in enough calories to keep himself alive. I was also worried about how the other lambs and ewes in the group pen would respond to him. Would they bully him, step on him because they hadn’t seen him, or ignore him?

I settled down with the milk bottle and Spring’s baby in my lap. He sucked, gulping six ounces of milk in a matter of minutes. When I set him down, he wandered around blindly, not crying, but obviously trying to find his mom. She was looking for him too. Spring circled the group pen, sniffing each lamb. When she came to her own, she chuckled, but didn’t seem to know what to do next. The baby wandered off and Spring followed. Eventually, the baby found a warm spot under a heat lamp. He curled up and went to sleep, his mother standing protectively over him.

Dave and I did our chores, keeping an eye on the tiny lamb as we fed the ewes and spread clean straw on the barn floor. When we finished, we leaned against the wall just to watch. The barn was quiet now. Lambs and their mothers had nestled into the fresh straw. A cluster of lambs slept under the heat lamp in the group pen. Spring’s baby was right in the center of the pile, accepted by the other lambs and perfectly capable of fending for himself.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for a heart-warming story. You're such a good writer. Made my Monday morning.