What the Heck is Lambing Season?
Every January on Willowtree Farm, lambing season begins. Lambing season means that the ewes give birth to all the baby lambs. With 40 ewes, you never know how it’s all going to go down. We all bet on which ewe is going to be the first mom of the year. It’s pretty exciting and the waiting and watching for the first baby is excruciating! I am not a patient person.
And then it all begins with a flourish. Babies start arriving every day. We have stalls set up for the new moms and their babies. The moms are so adorable when they are protective over their lambs, by stomping their front hooves at the dogs. Some lambs are really small and we have to set up a heat lamp for them to stay warm on really cold days. The tiny, little lambs are so small and fragile. You worry about how they can survive looking so tiny and meek. But amazingly, they do! These times bring about sleepless nights as we go and check on the moms all throughout the night. Some moms need extra help delivering and we need to be there to help them.
Then, the lambs start to grow and gain personality. The little lambs run and do funny jumping leaps together. There is nothing on TV that can beat watching these little lambs play and interact together. The moms put up with their antics, even though you can tell they are a little annoyed.
I am making this time sound so beautiful and simple. It IS beautiful but nothing about lambing season is simple. The time spent helping with lamb deliveries, tending to sick ewes, complicated deliveries, feeding all the sheep twice a day, bottle feeding the lambs 4 times a day, and the list goes on. We are a family of five and someone is always working with the lambs and ewes.
As a person who did not grow up on a farm, the hardest lesson for me is when we try our hardest to keep the weak lambs alive. And our hardest isn’t good enough. Death on the farm is such a natural part of life. But it is such a struggle for me to get through the pain and sadness of this part of the process.
I was thinking today about whether the joy of caring for the animals is worth the pain of feeling the loss. And yes, I am here to say that the pure JOY I get from going to say “good morning” to all the animals in the barn, feeding them, and giving them love is worth any pain associated with loss. “Chore time”, as our family calls it, are my favorite times of the day. All the animals are there to give you love, attitude, spunk, and most of all, they give you laughter and smiles.
Lambing season is where you get to see Mother Nature in all it’s glory. It’s not glamorous, it’s a lot of hard work, but it is watching daily miracles occur in front of your eyes. And there’s nothing else quite like it.