A busy night

I’d already left my cozy bed under the eaves once tonight, pulling on thick wool socks, grabbing my cell phone, and noticing the time was 1:30 am.  Not too unusual considering it was lambing time, and at least one trip to the barn was a normal nighttime routine.  Now I was suddenly wide awake again, my heart pounding.  I listened.  Nothing but the quiet Lambmurmuring of ewes calling to their lambs in the night.  So, what had woken me?  Sighing, I pulled on my socks and, phone in hand, made my way once more down the steep stairs from the attic.  I don’t even need to turn on a light anymore.  My insulated boots, wool cap, gloves, and parka are right where I left them.  Perhaps most important, my glasses are there as I pass by the kitchen table.  My chore parka is already stocked with a Gerber multi-tool and flashlight, and now my cell phone.  I head out across the icy yard, almost skating in an effort to stay on my feet.

At the sheep yard I am greeted by Sophie and Inga.  They’re sisters, Pyrenees Mountain Dogs and faithful guardians of the flock. They push their silky heads up under my hands in greeting.  I flash on my light and scan the resting flock  — 21 ewes and almost as many lambs.  Everything appears to be normal, and I don’t see any ewes who appear to be in labor. I turn around and head back to the house, wondering what it was that disturbed my sleep.  As I snuggled down and pulled the covers up around my ears, a “still small voice” persistently nagged at my mind, “Go take another look”.  I lay there, listening.  Nothing, then a high-pitched newborn wail.  Sitting bolt upright, I listened again.  Again, a lamb bleating.  Lifting the blind I peered across the yard – not very helpful, since my glasses were in their spot downstairs on the kitchen table.  A lamb probably got through the fence and was frantically trying to rejoin his mother on the other side.  I repeated the whole midnight barn check routine and found myself by the fence again.  Sure enough, a tiny black shadow was running back and forth trying to find the place where he had squeezed through the five-inch square sheep fence.  I spoke softly to him, and he ran over to me.  Picking him up, I gently dropped him over the fence.  I cast a cursory glance around the yard with the flashlight and turned to go back to my bed.  Then I heard the plaintive little voice I had heard before, but it seemed to be coming from the far side of the paddock.  I flashed my light and saw nothing.  Then I realized, to my horror that the sound was coming from the sheep water tank.  Leaping the fence I ran across the yard, oblivious to the ice underfoot.  A tiny lamb, probably no more than five pounds soaking wet, was standing in the stock tank with only her head above the water.  I scooped her up and hugged her to myself as I ran back to the barn.  My jacket wasn’t that absorbent, so I placed her under a heat lamp in the barn, where she started steaming and shivering; I ran to the house to get a towel.  After I briskly rubbed her down and got her as dry as I could, I wondered if her mother would be able to recognize her scent, after this drubbing.  Not a whole lot I could do about that right now, so I said a brief prayer and went back to bed.  I guess either a farmer has a sixth sense, or a little lamb has a guardian angel.