Monday, February 22, 2010

Nine and counting....

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


  1. The mudroom lamb is beautiful. You work so hard, Jody. Does it ever get any easier?

  2. One thing that I have always been grateful for, and it may sound strange is that my children grew up knowing about death. They saw calves born, and calves die. We would bring in babies, calves, goats puppies, etc and try and save them and sometimes they made it and sometimes they didn't. This has given all my children a deep respect for life and a knowledge that death is a part of it.

    But...having said all that..bless your heart it is hard when some years go like this and it seems to me it just happens some years and some years you get through calving, lambing or kidding with flying colors. Praying things straightening out for yall.


  3. Wow Jody! I don't know if I could handle the death part -- the birthing would be amazing, but losing the sheep would be really hard. Nine seems like a lot of orphans -- do you have that many every year?

  4. Pom Pom,
    Yes, it does get easier.....when lambing is done. This few weeks is intense and we just pull on our boots and do it.

    You are so right in saying how important it is for kids to understand that death is part of life. It does give a respect for life and also suffering.

    Things will get better. We're nearing the end of lambing.


    You know, the death part is very much a part of the "life part." I know that sounds a little harsh, but it is just the fact. It does seem like a lot of orphans. We had quite a few last year but we were able to graft many of them onto other mothers. This year since there are so many twins, we just can't add on to those families. This is what happens when there are so many triplets.


  5. Jody, I'm mostly reading posts on my reader nowadays for lack of internet-sauntering time, so I don't get over here to comment, but I've really been enjoying your posts. They've been interesting, warm, encouraging, and just plain good.

    I appreciate it all!
    Susan L

  6. Hoping that all the little ones pull thru - hope is a wonderful thing! Hang in there, I can just see God smiling down on you - tending to His flock!

    When we were little, the cattle outfit Dad ran also had a big sheep outfit. The herders made sure that we always had little bummers running around. We loved our little guys, we laughed when they romped around and we cried when they died! Life is a struggle - and it's worth the loving and the losing; because then you learn just how precious life is! Something we should never take for granted!

  7. Sounds like very hard work--you must be extremely tired and frequently cold, which is a temptation to grumpiness--but it's good work, too. Is your lamb from the February 17th (the one you were nursing with the barn door open) still one of the nine?

    Hang in there! I'll pray for you and your lambs.

  8. Susan,
    Thanks for reading and thanks for the kind comment.

    Our kids grew up with lots of bums too and the scene always reminded me of "Mary Had a Little Lamb" because they would follow the children wherever they would go.

    We all fall into bed and sleep soundly....until the shift alarm rings! The lamb I was bottle feeding on Feb 17th got a mommy! He's not one of the bums anymore.


  9. I love this post, Jody. Thanks for sharing. When I was a girl, I loved going to the farm my mom grew up on and feeding the bum calves. My grandma was always oh-so-happy to let us do it. LOL! Someday your little grandangel will be out helping you feed lambs. Now isn't that a lovely thought?

  10. Very true! I have a Border Collie, they are such smart dogs. I wish I could get her working sheep I think it would be really good for her, but we just have cattle for now.

  11. I just found your blog through "You Go Girl" and I have to tell you that I stayed up until 2:00am reading and am reading again on my lunch hour. Thank you for being such an inspiration!!! I love the baby animals, the recipes, the sewing,everything.Thank you for making me smile.

  12. Jody, I have really enjoyed this peek into ranch life and your thoughts have been so interesting. You skinned a lamb??? Oh my. You are a hard working woman and I admire you greatly. I pray you get good rest and those poor little lambies make it.

  13. Cassie,
    We, too, are always glad to share the bum feeding with others! Our lil Hazel goes with us to "help" feed the lambs, but she's more interested in toddling around and looking into the pens.

    Our border collies love cows too and are good about helping to herd them if we want them too. They'll even herd the chickens into the coop!

    I am so glad you've enjoyed your visit here. Thank you for your kind comments. You make me smile too. Come back!


  14. You skined a lamb, oh my gosh, I have no other responce. You amaze me xoxoxo Clarice


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