The day had come to wean the lambs from their mamas. The 6 babies had been nursing since early/Mid-May and Shetland lambs are usually weaned at between 8 and 12 weeks old. These guys are all of that. So because I’ve been having trouble with the ewe-lambs getting their heads caught in the fencing these days, I decided that the lambs could stay in the barn while the moms were out to pasture. The moms will be a lot happier grazing unencumbered and it will help them to rebuild for the next breeding season as well. It is only fair that they get to graze their fill without having to lose calories nursing.
A brief explanation about the lambs getting their heads caught is in order. You see, the ram and ewe lambs both have horns but the ewe lamb horns don’t grow as long. At Wing and a Prayer Farm, we don’t de-horn our sheep. Nor do we dock their tails. So what happens is the ewe lambs can still fit their heads through the spacing of the sheep-fencing and munch the luscious greens from the other side(you’ve heard the old saying!), but when they try to pull their heads back into the pasture, their horns get hung up on the wire and they’re stuck. And after they’re stuck, well, they baa a lot. A lot! And it is really pathetic as well as I’m pretty sure the stress isn’t good for anyone’s health. So unless you are around to supervise and “un-stuck” their little heads every time they get the notion to graze the other side of the pasture, then there’s going to be a less-than-healthy lamb at the end of the day.
So Char helped me to separate the lambs and the rest of the flock and it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. I never like to separate the lambs from their mamas because the idea of it seems so harsh to me. As I craftily plot how to capture that one, let that one escape, grab that little guy, move the gate quickly here, jump and block that one there….I feel like a monster! Even though I know it must be done and the mom’s need to regain their strength…all of the reasons why I should be doing it, I still feel terrible.
Well, do you know, not one of the lambs complained afterward? It was as if they were finally waiting for some time for themselves as well as not having to compete for grain or hay! They just fell to eating as soon as Char and I stopped working in the stall to fix it up for them. No one cried. And none of the mamas did, either!
And so why did I title this bit the way I did? Well, today was the day that I had to say goodbye to my son Jody, a junior at Virginia Tech. We had a day of packing his little truck yesterday and then again this morning for his 12-hour drive to Blacksburg, VA and it is always difficult on all of us when we separate. He is in an apartment this year and so the packing job was extensive as compared to the last couple of years when he was in a dorm. In spite of having gone through this a couple of years in a row, I am still quite a sad-sack when the time comes. Because he is so far away, he doesn’t come home until Thanksgiving for the first visit and for our family, it’s a long time to be apart. I was pretty gloomy and tearful over the last week, and this morning I was miserable between the falling rain, the goodbyes, the dental visit for immediately after and the committee meeting I had to lead following.
By this afternoon, I had had enough time and distractions to get me out of my crying-jag, and then the task of dividing the sheep was a sort of joke-therapy I hadn’t counted on: Really, its o.k. and all you need is some good hay, a clean stall and your buddies!
I took a dip in the pool after the barn-work as I had gotten pretty disgusting cleaning stalls, and then took a few beautiful pictures to share. The sun came out, both physically and metaphorically, and it will be o.k.. By the way, I phoned Jody this afternoon and he was almost through Pennsylvania-the sun had come out there, too!