Thursday, May 20, 2010

Lessons my sheep have taught me -- part 2

I want to tell you about some of my sheep and the lessons that they taught me.

747 is a 6 year old black ewe. She is the sheep on the left in this picture.  She was one of a triplet and we bought both her and her sister from a farm in Alberta. When she was ready to have her first lamb, her sister delivered a few days ahead of her. And I saw her feeding her sisters twin lambs. I had heard that sometimes a ewe will steal someone else’s lamb, so I intervened and gave the lamb back to his real mom. Over the next few days, 747 was licking and feeding her sisters lamb but hadn’t delivered her own. And I kept intervening and putting the lamb back with his mother. Then about 4 days later, 747 went into labour, but the lamb didn’t come. I had to help with the birth of her dead lamb.

She was so sad that she faced the wall and wouldn’t eat or drink or even look at me. I got her sister’s lamb and placed it in the stall with her, along with her own dead lamb. She brightened up and revived her spirit. For the rest of the summer she shared her sister’s twin lambs. A sheep will lick her lamb’s tail to encourage it to eat and to confirm that it is indeed her own lamb. 747 never did this with her sister’s lamb. That year she mothered any lamb that needed extra milk, and didn’t turn any away.

The following Spring she gave birth to a strong ram lamb. The first time I was in the barn after she gave birth, she Baa’d at me, with a deep, demanding tone. When I acknowledge her, she stepped aside to show me her new ram lamb. She was so proud, both of the ram and of the relationship she had with me. 747 taught me that motherhood is not about having children but about being a mother. It’s not about what you have but who you are.

Today 747 gave birth to twin ewe lambs. One white and one black. She is such a good Mom.  We're going to keep one of the ewe lambs and hope she has her mother's abilities.