When I woke up Thursday morning, I had no idea what lay ahead for me, in one day I would experience the heights and depths of shepherding, as well as the challenge of farming. When I went out to the barn for morning chores, Ina was in labor. She was ready to push and two little hooves presented themselves. Within minutes of entering the barn, she had delivered a beautiful little ewe lamb. I continued with my chores allowing Ina and her new little one time to settle in. Once all chores were done, I waited for the second lamb to come.
Finally, Ina began pawing the ground and getting down to pushing out her second lamb. This time, one hoof shot out instead of two. I waited for a second hoof, but one never came. After some investigating, I found the second hoof and helped bring it and the nose forward so Ina could continue pushing her lamb. Once it was out, I cleaned its nose off and waited for that first breath. Those few seconds seemed like an eternity. When the lamb did not begin to breathe, I began my routine of trying to get it to take its first breath. I tickled its nose with straw, I picked it up by its four legs and swung it in an arc to try to force the diaphragm to move, I rubbed it vigorously talking to it, encouraging it to live. In all my efforts, I began to realize that this little lamb was dead before she was born, and she was not going to take that first breath. She was perfectly formed, but for some reason, in the birth canal, she had lost her life. I stood over her asking God for a miracle as I refused to give up my efforts and hoping that she would suddenly begin to gasp for air.
The only sound in the barn, was Ina’s first little lamb baaing to her mom. I suddenly realized that God had given me a miracle-it was that little lamb standing next to me calling out. As I watched Ina clean up her dead little ewe lamb, I was reminded of why we celebrate the Easter season. Christ was that lamb, the lamb of God, who died on the cross for me and my sins so that I may live. I was so struck by the vivid illustration of this which lay before me in the barn. Here was the one dead lamb and its twin who was so full of life-calling out to her mom. Had that little ewe lamb died so that the other could live as she entered into this world just as Christ had died for me so that I may one day live with him for all eternity?
John 1:29 “Behold, the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!”
I Corinthians 5:7 “…For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed.”
Before my eyes, I was understanding God’s glory, the gift of His son, from a new perspective, and I knelt in awe of it all as I wrapped this little dead ewe lamb up in a towel and removed her from the pen.
Glory…..Ina’s little ewe lamb will be named Glory so that I may never forget.
I came in from the barn to find the light on my answering machine blinking indicating a new message. The postmaster had phoned 2 1/2 hours ago to say that I had a shipment of chicks waiting for me to pick them up. I could hear them peeping in the background. They were a day early and I was not ready for them! I quick called the post office to assure them that I was coming and then headed out to run to the feed store to buy grain and then to pick them up in town. Apparently, the chicks had been the hit of the morning as every customer who came to the window got to peek inside the box.
Once home, I rigged up our brooder box with the heat lamp, water, and grain pan. It took me another hour or so to get them all settled, eating and drinking water. It was around 11:30 and I headed inside to at last eat some breakfast.
At noon, I headed back out to the barn to check on our newest arrival and our other ewe who was looking as though she could lamb soon. As I opened the barn door, I heard a very loud and unusual squawking from one of the hens in the chicken coop. All the sheep in the barn were on alert and seemed a bit shaken by the noises coming from within the coop. When I opened the coop door I found a weasel attacking one of our hens! She was squawking in distress as the other hens all stood on their high perches fussing and flapping their wings. I began banging on the door of the coop and yelling to try to get the weasel to release his grasp. After what seemed to be several minutes, he released the hen and all the hens ran out their trap door into the barnyard followed by the weasel. I raced around to the back of the barn to see the weasel running as fast as lightening, darting here and there, chickens were flapping their wings and racing around, lambs were bouncing and running as they had been startled by the commotion, and Tere, our llama began chasing the weasel! Total mayhem and chaos broke loose.
I finally ran into the house to phone my neighbor who has a gun in hopes he could come down to help me. When I went back to the barn, the commotion had moved to inside of the barn again as this little predator made his way into the grain room where he would stick his head out as if to taunt me, then before I could attempt to hit him over the head with the shovel I had grabbed as my weapon, he would pop his head up from another location. At least an hour or more went by before he no longer showed himself and all the animals had calmed down. I then began to worry about my newest little lamb and wondered if a weasel would attack her!
Around 2:00, my neighbor came down. He is an expert trapper and hunter and is very knowledgeable about wild animals. He brought along some various traps for me to try and assured me that it probably would not harm my lambs. That night, my husband slept in the hay loft so he could hear should the weasel make another showing. We also set several traps in hopes to catch him.
Afternoon Chore Time~
By 3:30pm, I was feeling pretty exhausted both physically and emotionally. As I went out to begin my afternoon chore time, I found our last ewe to lamb, Clover, in labor. She had settled into the llama shelter behind the barn to deliver her lambs. I suspected she had triplets as her belly was huge. I kept a close eye on her as I went about doing chores. Within an hour, her first lamb was born, a black ewe lamb. Clover attentively cleaned her new lamb. Another hour went by, and as she was still licking her first lamb, she effortlessly popped out the second lamb. This too was a beautiful black ewe! Now Clover busily cleaned them both nudging them towards her udder so that they could drink.
I could see that she began having contractions again as she would paw at the ground. The bag of waters appeared and so a lamb was soon to follow. After some time, a little foot appeared. My stomach sank as I remembered the events of the morning and how Ina’s second lamb had presented itself in the same way-with that one foot popping out. Usually, the two front hooves and the nose appear all together.
I gave her some time to work, but it seemed that her contractions were sluggish as she was not making progress and was easily distracted from her work of pushing. I decided I needed to go in and see if I could find the second hoof. I found it and a little further back was the nose. I pulled the second hoof into position and decided that I just needed to pull the lamb out. My husband had arrived home from work by this time and was there to assist. I kept thinking that I had already lost one lamb for the day and I did not want to lose another one. I was anxious to get this lamb out. It is very difficult to pull a lamb when mom is not having strong contractions, and this lamb was not coming easily. My husband had to pull it for me and when it hit the ground, I knew that this lamb too was already dead. Again, I refused to believe it and began my resuscitation efforts. Once again, I found myself looking down upon a lifeless form. This little lamb was perfect in every way-it just could not take a breath. There was something different about this lamb though-it had been born with its placenta. I knew that the placenta must have pulled away from the uterine wall and the lamb suffocated before it ever reached day light.
Clover’s two little ewe lambs called out, wobbling on their legs as they stood while this lamb lay quiet and still. I was reminded of how we take life for granted and just how fragile the cycle of life is. God has created each of his creatures perfectly. Birth is a miracle each time it occurs and it is by God’s grace and perfect creation when a healthy new baby enters this world.
Psalm 103:8 “The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.”
Psalm 139:13-14 “For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.”
Grace….Clover’s first ewe lamb will be named Grace as a reminder of God’s grace and mercy he shows each of us. Her second lamb will be named Gretel which means “little pearl” as she is a reminder of God’s perfect creation.
As the day drew to an end, I had experienced life and death. I had given more of myself that day to our farm than I could have ever imagined possible. I felt a tremendous weight upon my shoulders as I am responsible for the care and well being of all of our animals on our farm, and I marveled at the amazing love which God must have for all in His creation, and the weight that Christ must have felt as he bear the sins of the world as he hung on the cross.