I realized quite late last week that I never did tell you the names of our new lambs. Forgive my lack of manners; I chalk it up to new-lamb giddiness.
Sylvia, you may remember, is the proud mother of these twins, born last Wednesday. Front and center is Violet. She’s sweet and refined and enjoys afternoon tea. She dreams of some day going into the fiber business. Her brother, snoozing in the carefully-nested hay behind her, is known around here as The Pharaoh. Surely you realize that his father, Sam the Sham, has been waiting patiently for some back-up singers. The Pharaoh will be joining him for the summer tour and indefinitely, much to Sam’s relief. They are still considering whether to recruit any other Pharaohs; Irene holds the key, as she’s the only ewe yet to deliver. If she bears a ram of any appreciable singing talent, he will likely only be touring for the summer.
Which means that Gloria has delivered!
Early Saturday morning, I peered out my bedroom window and spied a smallish white form laying in front of a largish white form in the portion of the pasture visible from the house. A lamb! I shrieked. Then I laughed, realizing that it was probably one of the twins, who made my heart jump every time I walked outside, thinking they were new, as-of-yet-undiscovered lambs. But the twins were still shut in their protective hut, Andrew reminded me. Did one sneak out, or was that a new lamb? I raced out of the house in my pajamas, stopping only to put on rubber boots.
And that’s when I met Clarisse, Gloria’s lovely new daughter. Clarisse was named by Isadora, after that well-known (in our house) sweetheart of Rudolph. How fitting – she looks like she could be a tiny reindeer. Gloria’s mothering, I’ve decided, leaves a bit to be desired. She did well cleaning up her little one on that brisk morning, starting off the bonding process well. I carefully picked the wee thing up and slowly led her and her panicking mom to the aforementioned babymoon hut (better know in the biz as a lambing jug) which I’d just kicked Sylvia and brood out of. I set Clarisse carefully down inside and went to usher in momma Gloria, when a confused and adamant Sylvia burst in to inspect the babe. Wait – is that mine? she seemed to say as she sniffed furiously. No, Mama, back down. Gloria! COME BACK HERE AND GET YOUR BABY! I yelled. Gloria, cut off by Mama Grizzly Sylvia, must have gotten confused about the whereabouts of her baby, and took off running back to the pasture birth spot. I look back at this moment as unfortunate and problematic. Perhaps I’m paranoid, but I suspect that word might have gotten spread around the flock that I steal babies. (poor Garnet) Gloria seemed to have a tough time understanding that the lamb before her, Clarisse, was really hers and that she wasn’t forgetting someone back on the pasture. Because of this, I suspect she seemed less inclined to bond with the little ewe. We worried that Clarisse wasn’t getting any or enough milk. All day I fretted, trying to force the little one to Gloria’s teat, but Clarisse is a bit stubborn, I’m learning. She doesn’t take well to being so directed. Do we have a bottle baby? I wondered. Out of four ewes, it seemed incredible that we’d have one stillborn, one who had to be delivered, and now one who’s been rejected by her mother. As far as I’d read, these are are anomalies. More likely, I realized, is that in years to come, we’ll look back at this lambing season with a better understanding of what was going on. We later discovered, however, that Clarisse seemed to be perfectly content with whatever milk she was getting on the sly; she was not the least bit interested in our bottle. And Gloria did let her nurse, especially after I relieved some of the pressure on her sore right side. Seems sheep get sore teats like new human mothers. I am still a bit worried, though. I almost never see that little girl nursing. Does she have something against nursing in public? Doesn’t she know that she was fortuitously born into the flock of a Champion Public Breastfeeding Shepherdess?
So now we wait for Irene, who doesn’t seem to be quite ready to go yet. But what do I know? A bit more than this time last week, but not nearly enough.