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 murmuring 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.