New life always brings excitement

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ewe and two lambs
(Farm and Dairy file photo)

“The day was flawlessly beautiful, winter at its most refined, pale, delicate, brilliant. The sky was a fragile blue waiting to be broken by the sun still not quite over the hill. If I run fast enough, I thought, I’ll be there the moment it rises and fills the barn with light. … down the ladder I went in to the barn, taking a quick look into all the corners, listening as well for that little tin sound signaling a newborn lamb. … my flock lay peacefully on the warm pack on the floor. I leaned against the barn door facing east.

Some sheep stood up slowly. … I had made it, just in time. The sun crested the hill and filled the barn once more with gold. The wall, the pack on the floor, the sheep were all the color of gold. The sheep forgave my tears.” — Sylvia Jorrin, Sylvia’s Farm

There is no doubt that this is a demanding month on our small farm, the birth of one lamb after another keeping us hopping. Late nights and early mornings spent in the barn sort of tend to blur in to that mindless “what day is it?” way of thinking.

Worth the effort

But yesterday there was no doubt it is all worth it, and it came with two tiny words from the tiniest member of the family. Oliver, Johnny and Autumn came for another visit, after I had sent their mama notice that a very tiny ewe lamb had been born overnight.

“We have an Autumn-sizer!” I wrote in my text. Autumn, at just a couple months shy of turning 2, is just a tiny little peanut, still wearing clothing the size most 1-year-olds are ready to bust out of.

Finding boots

It was a challenge to find sturdy enough boots for her tiny feet, but because she loves the barn, the search was on. Yesterday morning, big blue eyes shining under her pink winter hat, wisps of her white-blond hair framing her happy little face, Autumn showed me her new purple barn boots, then climbed on a bale of straw, looked at the tiny newborn lamb covered with its pink fleece blanket.

“Mine! Home!” Autumn exclaimed in her sweet voice. As her brothers helped shake out bales of fresh straw all around for bedding, Autumn stayed very near the youngest lambs, offering them handfuls of straw from wherever she could find it.

Her tiny hands didn’t move as much straw as her two older brothers did, but her intent was enormous and every bit as determined. And her smile could have lit up the whole barn.

I have always enjoyed little ones. Witnessing their open honesty of every emotion is refreshing. There is nothing better than sharing my love of animals with them. It is interesting to see what each is drawn to, and Autumn has left no doubt that the lambs are her love. The sparkle on her little face leaves no room for doubt.

I have raised puppies over many years, and visitors of all ages will bring a variety of reactions. Sometimes the parents advise their children to be quiet and gentle, while others seem to whip up the noise level in the room with squeals and screams of delight, their children trying to out-do them.

Looking back

It occurred to me like a light bulb turning on yesterday, that this is exactly what my great-grandfather once found in me, his sidekick from the time I was old enough to communicate.

On even the darkest day, as his life was in its final chapters, he was lifted up by a kid who wanted to see every corner of the barn, pull every lever on the tractor, watch a calf stand for the first time, claim a tiny barn kitten as her own and stomp in every mud puddle that could be found. Candy shared was made so much better by the joy it brought as the day of work was winding down.

New life is a dose of the very best medicine. Sharing new life in our new barn with a happy little sparkling soul makes every day shine just a little bit brighter.

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Judith Sutherland, born and raised on an Ohio family dairy farm, now lives on a 70-acre farm not far from the area where her father’s family settled in the 1850s. Appreciating the tranquility of rural life, Sutherland enjoys sharing a view of her world through writing. Other interests include teaching, reading, training dogs and raising puppies. She and her husband have two children, a son and a daughter, in college.

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