Three sets of prints in the snow: sharptail grouse, man, and tractor.
I spent quite a bit of time at the lambing shed today. A ewe had triplets. One lamb came at 5:00 a.m. Her lamb was small and that generally tells us there will be at least one more. If the lamb is quite large, it's usually a single lamb. She didn't have a lamb later on in the morning either which seemed odd. Finally one of the men decided to check her. Yes, there was another lamb inside. No. Two more. So they helped her by pushing them in, finding the feet, and pulling them out, one at a time. These lambs were born at 9:00 a.m., four hours after the first. The guys thought they'd be dead, but they turned them upside down to drain any fluids that might be in the lungs and they began to breath.
A while later, we checked on the lambs and Hubs decided we ought to try feeding them by bottle because he wasn't sure if the ewe had enough milk for the three of them. At our house, there is one deep freeze that is mostly full of cow's colostrum. I took a pint out and began to thaw it to feed these little lambies whose mother didn't even lick them off. I wondered if she didn't feel very well? When I got to the barn, I found one of the triplets dead and the other two cold and wet and quite hungry. It usually takes some doing to get newborn lambs to suck a bottle. They would rather have the teat, but in this case, mama ewe wasn't "mothering up" very well so they had little choice.
I pulled up a five gallon bucket and turned it upside down for a chair, grabbed a wet lamb and put it between my legs with it's head facing away, and I proceeded to force the nipple into it's mouth, maneuvering the jaw to open and then allowing it to close down. From here on, there was a lot of sitting and waiting and fiddling to get the lamb to suck. These things take time and patience. The big barn door was slid open today since it was very warm -- 50 degrees by noon. The roof was dripping and I was staring off out the door. There wasn't much to look at except for the snow, but I could see the top of the hill where the county road goes by and I saw the mailman stop at the boxes. Other than that, I just sat there thinking, "Here I am, sitting on a bucket in the barn, trying to get a scrawny lamb to suck a bottle. Nobody knows I'm here and it really doesn't matter much in the scope of global economics. But I'm here, and I want this lil fella to make it." Then I thought of the shepherds back in Jesus' day, watching their flocks by night, and I wondered what they might have been thinking way back then. "Here we are, out here with a bunch of stupid sheep, watching them sleep and watching for coyotes and waiting for morning to come. Why are we out here anyway? Who cares? I wonder if there will be anything for breakfast at home?" And what happened next? A heavenly host of angels appeared announcing the birth of the Savior of the World to them. They were to be the first to see Him, and the first to spread the Good News!
Well, no heavenly host of angels came down from the clouds today, but a simple revelation did. I have been meditating on the verse from Matthew 6 which says, "Look at the birds of the air, they do not sow, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns, and yet your Heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they?" If God cares for the hungry sparrows and if He set me to feeding the hungry lambies, well then, He cares for me too and all those people that I love and care about. He's watching over us all, thinking of us all. We don't have to worry or be afraid because He is with us right where we are whether we are in a lambing barn or a sky scraper, in a ship in the middle of the ocean or in the middle of a hard situation we don't know how to handle. He knows our needs; we can trust Him. I know this sounds simple, but when you are out in the middle of nowhere feeding lambs, you think about things like why you are here on this earth. Some folks wouldn't think that taking care of sheep is very glorifying, but if it's His work and He sets me to it, then it glorifies Him somehow. That's good enough for me. I draw near to Him and He draws near to me and that, I think, is what matters at the end of the day.
I had a little time to go for a walk today too. I just had to spend some of this gorgeous day appreciating the things around me and walking out in the midst of a warm dripping day because I know the next few days are going to be cold again and the snow will come again, so I intended to enjoy the day God gave. I noticed that many of the ewes were lying on their sides with their full lamb-bellies sticking up, bulls were stretched out soaking up every bit of sunshine they could. The cats were sitting on fence posts and lying on hay bales soaking up the warmth. I let the chickens out of the coop so they could go scratch and pick through the straw and the manure piles. I noticed the tracks in the snow and the comings and goings of the sharptail grouse and the gray partridge. Every beast and bird was all about soaking in the sunshine today and so were all of us human creatures too.
All things bright and beautiful,
All creatures, great and small,
All things wise and wonderful,
The Lord God made them all.
He gave us eyes to see them,
And lips that we might tell
How great is God Almighty,
Who has made all things well!
Maker of Heaven and Earth
by Cecil Frances Alexander