Believing we would have our first lambs due in May we had planned to attend a lambing clinic on March 14th. Our surprise lamb (surprise because mom turned out to be pregnant when we bought her) proved that when it comes to farming it doesn’t always (if ever) go according to plan- Allie was due anywhere from March 1st to March 15th. Over the months leading up to her delivery I had some serious conversations with our Allie about making sure that a) she delivered prior to the clinic so I could attend the clinic, and b) she delivered without having any complications.
As we were getting nearer March 1st I started to worry… how could I make sure everything would be ok when I was working? The solution: a security camera-or two in our case- that allowed us to watch live feed while at work. If mom started to deliver I could jet home as I work only 15 minutes away. And just in case anyone wonders how to get a teenage daughter engaged in farming… Get an app she can put on her her phone that she can watch while in school!! Works like a charm.. which meant that I got several texts daily asking me if I had seen x y and z!! Over the night I set my alarm to go off every 2 hours and having been on baby watch without a barn camera I was beyond happy to not have to get dressed and go outside just to check three times nightly. It felt like pure luxury to be able to roll over, look at the phone and determine that all was ok. Especially when it was raining! I have to confess, there were more than one time I checked the cameras and sprung out of bed, tossing the phone to Scott for a double check- causing HIM to jump out of bed as well: both of us convinced that we saw little baby lamb eyes or ears. After running down to their shelter we on each occasion were met by some very confused looking sheep who were wondering why on earth we were visiting at such an odd hour. Seriously; how can two people imagine seeing a baby only to both be wrong? Granted, the night vision isn’t quiet as clear with it’s grey tones due to the infrared light, but still!
This is what a night time picture looks like, here Daisy IS in the picture, and snuggled up next to her mama!
As it turned out Allie was showing signs of labor one morning after breakfast and she delivered quickly and without any problems. I came down just in time to see the nose and two front feet- then mom stood up and “plop” – gravity took care of the rest and out came the cutest little (Yellow??!!) lamb!
It was amazing to see mom go into action; no sooner had her baby hit the ground before she turned around and started licking her dry. We let mom do her thing since it was such a tender bonding moment: Allie was talking softly to her baby and baby was talking back. After a while, since it was cold outside, we stepped in and helped drying and warming baby up so she could enjoy her first meal.
With a full belly, and feeling warm and dry, Daisy- as we named her- figured it was time for a rest. Mom had different plans. She pawed her and nuzzled her until she got up. Repeatedly. I thought mom was acting like such a bully and was getting upset with her until I realized that mom knew better than I. Daisy needed a lot of very frequent meals since her stomach was so little and she didn’t get much at each feeding.
Annika and Scott were watching the baby with delight. Allie however stomped her hoof angrily at both of them, and then it hit me… I was the shepherd! Even if both Annika and Scott helped feeding the sheep on many occasions, it was me who spent time with them. I kept watching them, cleaning their shelters and their field, standing around just watching them, petting them, talking to them and yes- unfortunately for the sheep -singing to them. In the 5 months since they arrived as completely wild and untamed animals, they had slowly settled in and learned to trust me. They now like to be petted and rubbed, especially Allie during the end of her pregnancy. I jokingly called it giving her a prenatal massage! I also spent hours watching for signs of labor. When they got out of their field (ahem- Scott), they would follow me back. They now all come up to greet me, starting their baaing as soon as they hear my voice, only to get more insistent when they see me at the top of the hill. I on the other hand know which one it is who’s baaing since they all have different “voices”. I can tell if they are happy, nervous, uncomfortable or stressed. It reminds me of what Jesus Christ said “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.” (John 10:27) A shepherd is someone who takes care of you and has your best interest at heart. Someone you will follow because you trust them, someone who loves you and knows what you need.
Allie let me help her with her most precious little lamb. She was not totally at ease and sniffed my hands and towels to make sure I didn’t hurt her baby. But it was when I saw her reactions to the rest of the family that I noticed the big difference. All my hours with my sheep were now paying off. Allie trusted me.
The world needs more Shepherds, and I don’t just mean that we all need to start keeping sheep or start going to church. We need to be the kind of good humans that children, youth and others around us can trust. Our lives need to be examples for others, not perfect which is impossible, but we need to be kind, good, thoughtful and loving. Our children and their friends need to know they are loved unconditionally and that they can trust us and seek our help when they are in trouble. I keep looking for someone who has those qualities, especially in these times of COVID-19 and political debates. I need a Shepherd I can trust to lead our complicated world.
Upon writing, it’s now been 5 days since Daisy was born, and Allie is back to wanting attention, cuddles and affection again, confident that her baby is OK. Yesterday I put my chair in the field, plopped Daisy in my lap and oh how I wished I had 3 hands, one for mom, one for baby and one to take pictures with… but here are some I was able to take! Scott also came down for some snuggles (although not with me 🙂 )