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May 23, 2016

Spring lambs and two toddler daughters

By Daris Howard

The spring after I finished college, I was determined to spend more time with my little girls enjoying the farm life we had chosen. As I was outside one evening, I could see the lights of the lambing sheds in the distance, where the sheep herders worked around the clock helping the ewes birth their lambs. That gave me an idea.

“Annicka and Celese, would you like to have baby lambs?” I asked my 3-and4-year-old daughters. They never said yes directly, but their immediate squealing did. “I’m not promising anything until I talk to the men at the sheep camp,” I told them.

I truly didn’t plan to check about getting lambs until the weekend, but that night after I mentioned it, we could hardly get the girls to go to bed. They were far too excited.

So the next day I drove to the sheep sheds and asked if they had any bum lambs.

Lambs can, obviously, be orphaned if the mother dies. However, a lamb can also be orphaned if a ewe has more than two lambs. Her natural instinct is to push the extra ones away to insure the survival of the two she chooses to keep. Usually the ones shoved away are the smallest. The man I talked to said he was sure they would have some lambs I could have if I wanted to stop by after work…I stopped at the farm store on my way home and I was given two cute lambs that hadn’t eaten for most of the day.

When I got home, Celese and Annicka were there and were soon each carrying a squirming lamb into the house. They wanted to play with the lambs, but I knew they needed food first. I funneled milk into pop bottles with  nipples. I tried to convince my daughters that I needed to feed the lambs until they got used to the bottles, but they thought I was just being selfish. I finally gave up and handed them the bottles.

A lamb, though small, is really strong, and when the lambs couldn’t figure out how to get milk from the bottle, they bunted my daughters, knocking them down. Then the lambs sucked on their clothes, trying get the milk that had spilled on them. Finally, Celese handed me her lamb’s bottle and turned to convince her younger sister to do the same.

“Annicka, let Daddy feed them,” she said. “He’s too big for them to eat.”

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