A few months ago, I experienced my sheep-iversary. The next few weeks contain all of my lamb-birthdays. Agnes is now one (1/25/13), Ida and Esther on 2/10, and Valentine on 2/14.
I don’t mean for this blog to become a series of reminiscences, so I’ll try to go light on the flashbacks here. It’s more than just the year-old sheep in my barn that remind me of my first lambing. The same aching cold, the light dustiness of the hay, the persistent chore of breaking the ice in the water buckets…these are the weeks that try a farmer’s resolve, but this year I’m doing it without the reward of cuddly and amusing lambies in the barn. It wasn’t hard to be motivated to go and check on them, or to bring strings of visitors down to the barn to see them hopping around.
Though the chores are duller lamb-less, I also feel less worry. I don’t have lambs getting too cold. I don’t have to check that lambs are nursing. I’m not scrutinizing ewes for signs of labor or trying to palpate udders for mastitis on an angry, kicking sheep. I don’t have scary new moms like Dot ready to ram me into the opposite wall. I’m also not feeding two bottle lambs six times a day, and I’m not listening to them baa for attention from the shed when they hear me in the kitchen. As fun as that was, I understand why one of the 400 sheep operations up north used to just give their bottle babies away for free.
Of the birthday girls themselves, I’ll say this: I think I have the four best lambs anyone could hope for and I’m very pleased with each of them. They’re tall and strong with fine wool and sweet personalities. And Agnes, my silly bottle lamb, keeps me laughing every time I go to the barn.