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Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Change, like death, is inevitable!

I used to fear change.  Back when I was still drinking to squash my feelings, change was a big one.  If something changed, I couldn't control it.  After I quit drinking, I needed my routine and change wasn't allowed.

Nowadays, I embrace change.  Life is meant to be lived and changes are a part of life.

One of the upcoming changes is that I have decided that this is the last year lambs will be born on the farm.  After Lyndsey graduated, we thinned the flock of 4 ewes down to 2 and sent the ram to live with our shearer.  I was already fearful of this years lambing.  Last year, I had to assist each birth, pulling lambs that were stuck. Then Stacie, my favorite old girl, died, probably of milk fever, when her lamb was 5 days old.  The feeling of responsibility weighed heavy on me.  This year started out badly, since Two had to have a c-section. The babies and Two are both doing good, but it was very emotional for me.

A few days later, I was called to go help with the ewe that Lyndsey had donated to one of our 4-H members.  She had delivered two lambs, but seemed unable to stand, though she was calling for her babies.  An hour after I got there, I noticed, to my horror, another lamb being born.  I quickly pulled it and worked to get it breathing. Luckily, my experience with the lambs born during the c-section had prepared me for it, so I swung the baby by it's back legs and rubbed it roughly.  It started breathing. The ewe still wasn't doing well, so I called my friend, the shearer for advice.  I checked for another lamb (thank goodness there wasn't).  We gave her some banamine for pain and penicillin to cut the risk of infection.  She was eating and drinking but still wouldn't (or couldn't) stand.  The babies were given powdered colostrum.  I really didn't know what else to do.  The next day the family built a "sling" and got momma up. The babies were able to nurse and today the vet made a visit. She diagnosed either toxemia or milk fever and after a couple of shots of Dextrose, B-12 and electrolytes, she's at least standing on her own.  She's not out of the woods yet, but I'm saying a prayer that she survives.

That leaves me with one ewe, Sydney, left to lamb.  She got bloat really bad at the start of breeding last year, so it will be a month or more before she delivers.  I am keeping fingers crossed it all goes smoothly.  When Lyndsey first started her Suffolk breeding flock 5 years ago, the excitement of the nighttime checks, the deliveries and getting weak lambs healthy was amazing.  Now, I'm finding I have lost my enthusiasm.  Maybe it's because Lyndsey isn't home to share the miracle with, maybe it's because the realization that I am responsible for these lives is weighing on me or maybe it's because a full time job with often longer hours means I have less time to devote to our flock has taken the fun out of it. I don't know for sure, but I am pretty sure that I am done with babies being born on the farm.  That doesn't mean I won't raise bottle lambs or calves, or have baby chicks hatching out.  It just means that I will allow myself to let time make the changes that need made.  Two (the ewe that had the c-section) will spend the rest of her days here on the farm with a companion of some kind.  Sydney, after she's had her babies and weaned them, will go to a 4-H home with youngsters and parents who will be excited and energetic about lambing.

It's more change in a year full of change (new career, Lyndsey going to college, etc.) and I find it almost a relief to accept it.  I will still be a farmer, with chickens and a large production garden, bottle calves and the occasional rescue animal.  Life is good!


  1. You've come a long way, baby! ;-)

  2. We all seem to be adverse to change. Even a good change is hard to accept. Why is that? Security in what we know? Fear of the unknown? There's nothing wrong in making changes that feel better for yourself. All our lives, we go through phases that require change for us to be well-adjusted and happy. (Ha! Well-adjusted and happy. No small thing!) Having had Lyndsey physically at home so that the two of you could rely on and support each other is no more. Things couldn't/shouldn't stay the same now. I admire you (and anyone!) for having the grit and gumption to make the necessary changes so life feels better. The alternative is staying in our (known) ruts and becoming weally, weally miserable! :o)

    Yep, life is good . . . and there are all kinds of new, exciting "firsts" in the future for all of us.

  3. I would say that you've had a great deal of change in a relatively short time! I, very reluctantly, decided on no more lambs after I realized that it was more stressful than enjoyable. Working full time and farming by myself has taught me to temper my enthusiasm. Sounds like your plate will be plenty full even without the lambs! You really have done such an amazing job, Ruth.