Nine. That's the number of bum lambs we have now. A half bottle each. Some bums were the runts of triplets, some were taken from sickly mothers, some were rejected by their mothers. All of them have a story, as short as it may be, just like us. Jesus wasn't kidding when he said we are His sheep. People back then knew a lot more about sheep and crops and agriculture than we do today, and they could relate so well to His parables and comparisons. It was not hard to grasp Jesus' word picture of the Shepherd and his sheep.
This morning the picture at the lambing shed was not a good one. We had a ewe who died and left a lamb all snuggled up next to her. In another pen, a lamb died all curled up in the corner, the mother paying no attention to it at all. I think she didn't like it or want it. I tried to give her another lamb. First I skinned her dead lamb and put the sheepskin jacket onto bum lamb. We call this process grafting. Often a ewe will take a lamb because she smells all the familiar smells of her own lamb on the live lamb, however, this ewe was not fooled and did not care for her foster child whatsoever. She began banging it and beating it into a corner so I could see that that idea was not going to work. She would just have one lamb and no more. In another part of the barn, an old ewe, the oldest of the herd, had birthed a large lamb and I could see she had another one on the way, but she was struggling. Son, J., caught her with the crook and held her head while I went in and found the lamb had a leg back. I gently tugged on the free leg and the head and helped her birth him. It worked perfectly and she has a set of twins that are healthy thus far. Sometimes the older ewes have trouble raising twins due to their age, health, and lack of a good milk supply, but others can do the job just fine. She will be watched.
The bum pen has struggles of its own. One lamb in the bum pen whose mother died, is not well. He will hardly suck a bottle. He chooses to lie huddled up in the corner. He might not make it, but I decided to bring him home and try to warm him up with the heating pad and give him a dose of cow's colostrum. It's the best I can do, and if this doesn't fix him, nothing else will. Even our border collie dog, Jessie, is watching this little lamb with interest. She always does this when we bring a lamb into the mud room. Somehow she knows what we are doing and she watches and attends with me. With sheep and all livestock, you quickly learn the lesson: there is life and there is also death. So often the two go hand in hand. None of the things I have described are unusual; all are a part of animal husbandry. Not one life goes by without the shepherd's notice, no matter how short or how long that life is.
"I am the good shepherd; and I know My own and My own know Me...."
~Jesus from John 10:14