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.

2 thoughts on “A busy night

  1. Wouldn’t mind living in that house… it looks so chuferel! Brilliant photo’s of work on the farm. They look fantastic in black and white. Never seen sheep whizzing about on a merry-go-round before…. they look like they’ve lost all their inhibitions. Is the object to make them so dizzy they don’t notice the needle and the squirt! ;o))

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