Chronicles of Less Urban Living, Fresh from In the Night Farm

Maybe Baby

We weren’t supposed to have any lambs this year. But, accidents happen.

Yesterday morning, while frost still lay on the ground, baby Boo-Boo was born. His mama licked him dry, but the chill sapped his strength so he couldn’t nurse.

We milked some thick, yellow colostrum and bottle-fed him. Without the antibodies and calories in this precious, first milk, he would not survive. His strength picked up at once, but before he could learn to nurse, a bitter storm blew in.

Boo-Boo’s only chance was a move to the shed. Mama rode there in luxury.

This may look uncomfortable, but sheep relax when flipped into a sitting position. This is how we hold them for shearing and hoof trimming, so they don’t struggle and injure themselves.

Wind rattled the shed and whipped it with snow that raced horizontally across the sky. Inside, Mama and Boo-Boo were reunited.

Travis and I stayed up much of the night, trudging back and forth between house and shed, our arms laden with flashlights, nipple bottles, and old liquor bottles full of hot water to ward off hypothermia. Several times, as I dozed in my farm clothes between feedings, I wondered why we went to all this trouble for one, weak, unwanted lamb.

The answer, of course, is simply that it’s the right thing to do. Farming is about nurturing, about doing your best. You can’t look into a tiny, helpless face without knowing that it, like every living thing, deserves a chance.

This morning, Boo-Boo is strong enough to stand for mealtime, but he has a long road ahead. All we know for sure is this: we won’t be sorry for having tried.

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2 responses

  1. Hang in there, Boo-Boo!

    March 31, 2008 at 2:57 pm

  2. LJB

    I brought a failing lamb in one year (triplet that must have been overlooked) and after warming him in hot water and drying him off, I set him in a basket on the window sill for a few hours until he was energized enough to think about sucking for some nutrition. Like you, I’m driven by the ‘what else can you do’ genes. Taking care of the vulnerable. However I am very glad that our Jacobs have for the majority of the time, successfully lambed outside in snow storms in some very cold weather. Heritage breeds — yeah, they are worth it for many reasons.

    April 27, 2008 at 7:38 pm

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