Time and Place

April 29 – The night Petunia was born, Miranda, Maggie & I waited with her mama, Paisley, all evening long.  Her labor was slow, very slow, and we were all so ready for her to deliver.  Some assistance helped her to get things started and long-legged Phergus was the first to appear.  Next was Philip, smaller and easier to deliver.  A while later, now late in the night, Petunia presented backwards.  Miranda was able to push her back and collect her legs together and help her safely through, with the right amount of finesse and strength, and, ha!, we had a triplet! Sassy and strong from the very start.  The first triplets born on our farm in so many years of lambing.

Summer passed and the three grew like gangbusters as their very attentive mama cared for them.

Paisley started to wean them at 2 months old and we granted her that.  Nursing triplets took a lot out of her and summer was ahead of her.  I separated her from them at about 10 weeks and they lived in the barnyard with some grazing, hay and grain while mama went to pasture to graze with the others and rebuild her strength and vigor.

 

 

September 1 – The morning sky was as blue as it gets in September.  I think that September-blue should be a color.

I changed my calendars.

A strong breeze was steady and the air had cooled, I bundled up to go out, sorting through my wool-drawer for mitts and a hat. I was giddy for the change.  Literally skipping to the barn.

Just like that, it all went away.  I found Petunia, our little 4-month old Shetland ewe lamb, turned away from the stall door, curled up in a still pose.  She had died.

I won’t forget the details.  The evening before when I’d tucked her in with the two new Shetland lambs, Peigi & Penelope, I was feeling so satisfied at the amount of work I’d gotten done, secure to head into the house and call it a day.  I’d spent two days finding a good solution to settle in our recently acquired, wild little ewe lambs.

This past week I’d separated Petunia from her brothers because it was time.  I put Philip & Phergus in the pasture with The Boy Band and they’d been baahing and baahing to their sister in the barn, their sister had been calling back.

Posting Petunia in with the newbies was a great distraction for her. She’d be their companion and her extremely social temperament would help them to learn to trust and relax in their new home.

I fed them all grain because the farm that they had come from said that the girls were eating grain now.  And they were newly weaned and missing home and hungry.

 

Petunia ate all of the grain and choked or bloated, or both, from overeating.  That is why she died.

All the should’ves  –  I’ve been through them and will go through them.

 

It’s hard not to feel it personally when beloveds are taken away as often as they had been for me this past season.  There is always work in front of me, at every turn, and the relationship I have with the animals I care for sustains my energy, fills me up more than it takes away.  There is no doubt that it is meaningful work.

But the hurt of grief requires a different protocol for healing.  I’ve figured it out.

I live and manage a working farm.  There are many dependent on me for care and so I have to be my best for everyone.  I walk and talk and cry and think and work and repeat as I tick off the tasks.  Discovering Petunia, racing ahead in my mind, how to bury her before evening – so many coyotes lately – should I try to take her pelt – how to skin a lamb – making phone calls – making plans – finding help –

Caring for the new, bewildered lambs.  Caring for the flocks in the fields and the old ewes in the barn,  the barnyard.

My back and shoulders and arms are still sore from unloading hay wagons a week ago and filling the loft, from cleaning two very soiled stalls this past week that were thick with muck from sheltering animals in various stages of care.  It’s the kind of sore that I notice when I settle into a bed at the end of the day, but not the kind of sore that keeps me from hauling, shoveling, lifting, climbing, and hustling.

My heart and head are sore from the hurt and drain on my mental energy of welcoming, caring for and saying goodbyes to new and old flock members. It’s the kind of sore that feels like the verge of choking and flushed cheeks and eyes watering, but not the kind of sore that keeps me from swallowing it all and smiling broadly or laughing boldly as the antics of the pup or the curiosity of lamb or a sweet phone conversation with your loved ones brings you back.

The things I love, I love very much.  It hurts like hell to say goodbye.  But the things I love that are here still, I love very much.  They help me when it hurts like hell.

 

When Petunia was born, we were so worried about the cord getting severed and her taking her first breath before her head came out of the pelvic cavity, that she would aspirate. But it all worked out well and she was strong and healthy and nursed right from the start!

April 29, or was it 30th: Miranda, in the wee hours, with the new, wee Petunia whom we named for her(her nickname when she was little) and whom Miranda delivered because she was malpresented. We were all so grateful.

Three midwives, me, Maggie & Miranda, and three healthy lambs

The triplets grow

Petunia

Petunia & Joan

Char came home from school for the summer and got to spend lots of time with the babies

SJ got to meet Petunia in May when she came home for Char’s graduation

Grammie got a rare opportunity to cuddle Petunia. When she was first born, she was very shy and spent all of her time with her mama, Paisley. The boys, Philip & Phergus, were very social right from the start. Gradually, Petunia became more confident to let us all hold her.

Paisley didn’t mind, though the three little wriggly lambs might’ve, when I jumbled everyone up in my lap for a group hug. Petunia had such a look on her face!!!

29 responses to “Time and Place

    • Thank you, Laurie. I am not alone, at least, in that many a good farmer goes through this. I appreciate your kind words. So grateful to support from folk like you that reach out.

  1. I am so sorry ! My heart is breaking for you! I love your farm and i feel your pain for every sad post. and i smile at all of the happy ones. Sending hugs for you and your babies.

  2. I want to say something, Tammy, but you have said it all, better than I can. It’s all the best and all the saddest in one squirmy armful that you can’t let go of. Thank you for being you.

  3. Oh hon, I really am so so sorry. Ugh. It’s just hard to watch this side of life on a farm. I adore your sweet ewes, especially lil Petunia! Watching Joan alone on your IG stories is so refreshing and makes my heart so glad. It’s all wonderful and you are doing a superb job Tammy, you and your sweet family.

  4. While I only “know” you via instagram, you seem to be filled with love. For me it seems that it is only when we allow ourselves to feel all the love that we can then feel the fullness of grief. We can allow ourselves to feel the fullness of all of life’s rich pagentry and be fully alive. I, in this superficial “relationship” with you, find you inspiring.

  5. Thank you for sharing the news even though it is heartbreaking. She had quite the wonderful life while it lasted, and was dearly loved, even by people who never got to see her in person.

  6. So sorry to read this- my heart breaks for you. As always, you find your inner strength and work through this and continue with your important work. You are inspiring. Sending you hugs💕

  7. You can have my thoughts for free. No penny needed.
    Where would we be without love? Lost? Alone?
    It will get you through. Whether you are giving it or receiving it.

    I’m headed to Lori’s to share my love this week. I will lovingly pack up her crafting and hobby room. The contents will “go with” when she finds a safer place to begin life again. Two floods in two years is officially deemed unsafe for the heart!

    Such sad news about beautiful Petunia with the sweet, sweet face.

    Keep on loving my friend because where would we be without it? ❤️

  8. Tammy, I’m so so so sorry. I posted on IG in response to your lovely image before reading the caption, and all I could think as decided whether or not I could endure the story of loss in your blog was “No, no no, no, not Petunia.” Sweet baby girl. Such a difficult reality to have to face. I send you all hugs and kisses, and share your sorrow. <3

  9. So very sorry Tammy. I couldn’t do the work you do. Hugs to every living thing at Wing and a Prayer.

  10. Tammy, I know we have never met …however, through this magic called the internet I have come to know you (a little) and your farm. When I’m feeling better would love to visit….ok so my mind wanders…lol..back on track! I wanted to let you know, that I’m sorry for your loss…each loss like this, no matter what the circumstances, changes us…our lives …forever. Death..be it an animal or person is a very intimate thing to experience. I think you always handle things with grace. I sincerely hope you continue to find support through these losses in the people and animals you love so much.

    Sincerely,
    Kevin

  11. Tammy, I’m so sorry ~ my heart goes out to you! You do incredible work, there’s so much to take care of and it’s obvious you have a love for this life and all your animals. Hugs to you! I love your updates and hearing about you farm which is such a special place. Blessings to you!
    🙂 Penny

  12. I’m trying to think of what to say, when I realized the previous comments said it all, especially Roberta , who said my exact thoughts. Hugs to all of you.

  13. My heart aches for you, I am so sorry for your loss. I applaud your great love and care of the beautiful animals you have. You are in my thoughts.

  14. Well Midwife Tammy, if I can feel grief only seeing Petunia in photos, I deeply understand how truly grieved you are over the loss of this precious one. In my time as a midwife for humans back in the 70s, I worked with breech’s, twins, genetic problems, meconium aspirations, blue baby’s needing life-giving recesitation, and once had a baby’s head present with a cyst the size of a soft ball that erupted once birthed! I knew in my few hundreds of home births that a maternal or fetal demise was par for course and with the “witch hunts” going on in California for lay-midwives, it was only time before one would come my way I knew. I was as prepared as I could have been and felt strong and ready to face what could happen. As it turned out, a close midwife friend of mine was arrested for a home birth death and lost her case then sent to jail. I bowed out of practice and started lobbying to legalize midwifery with our new organization, California Midwife Association and went on to finish nursing school.
    A midwife is a “knowing” soul whether her hands are catching lambs or humans. I hear your heart and mind going over every step, every sign abd every symptom, adding to your great wealth of farm midwifery knowledge. It’s how we roll. Sweet little Petunia has a special place in the hearts and minds of your readers thanks to your gracious sharing. Thank you for, in effect, midwifing us all when death arrives at Wing and a Prayer. Peace and love to you and yours.🙌🌟🌿🐑✨💛

  15. Oh Tammy, I’m so sorry. What a rough year! She was a cutie and gone too soon but at least had the best life every day with you. Hugs

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