Another year, more gains and a loss. Early last year, we had our first predator attack and lost a lamb. A coming of age for the farm. Electric fences were installed and the flock is shut into the barn every night. We keep an ear open for barking dogs and bumps in the night. Despite all these precautions, we have again experienced a loss. Not from a predator, but from the simple fact that sometimes stuff happens that we don’t understand and can’t control.
Just after Christmas 2017, we had twin lambs born. Apparently, the little ram we thought was a dud – wasn’t. On January 8, two more sets of twins! On the 13th – another pair. We now have eight adorable lambs bouncing around in the barn. Their moms are capable and attentive; the lambs are well cared-for. What a lovely way to start the year.
In the meantime, (meanwhile, back at the ranch…) one of our ewes – neither nursing nor pregnant – decided to lie down and not get up. She spent several days this way. No symptoms; eating, pooping and acting like a healthy ewe – except we couldn’t get her to stay on her feet. Last night, she died. We have no idea why. No temperature, no apparent bleeding, no nothing. Except Zooey had left us. She was an odd one – skittish until she had her first lamb and merely confused after that – but we loved her as we love the rest of the flock.
Any loss weighs heavily on us. What could we have done? Did we miss something? What if…what if…what if… The fact is, sometimes sheep die before they’re old. Sometimes, you’ll never know what took them. Sometimes, you’re grimly aware of the cause.
The rest of the flock is healthy and the lambs are thriving. We have two other ewes that will probably lamb in the spring. We care for them, fuss over them, do our best to keep them safe and healthy. Robert goes out every morning in whatever weather is being thrown at us to ensure they have all they need. We do our best.
It is pointless to spend our lives looking over our shoulder at what could have been. What is done, is done. Having livestock is a reality check. Birth, life, then death.
It’s a constant reminder to make the most of the life part, because you don’t have much control over the beginning or inevitable end. Perhaps farming is turning me into a philosopher.