Spring Lambing Brings an Unexpected Houseguest

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I have raised goats, and, to tell you the truth, I really don’t miss them. While it is true that baby goats are one of the cutest farm animals around, it is also true that grown-up goats can be quite annoying.

Sheep

We used to raise goats when we first moved to our farm more than 10 years ago. They were quite useful in helping to clear out the underbrush on our long-neglected piece of land, but still, I don’t miss the “horns-stuck-in-the-fence” syndrome that seems to be a dominant trait in the greater goat population. Once the browse was cleaned up and our pasture lands were restored, we switched to raising sheep. And, that’s when I really fell in love. Of course, my first love will always be beef cattle, but somehow our flock of ewes has slowly etched its way into my heart – and, for that matter, my home.

One cold spring afternoon I met my first (and certainly not last) bottle lamb. Upon my routine afternoon check during lambing season, I found the weaker half of a set of twins missing. It was already cold, getting dark and spitting that lovely half-rain, half-ice mixture we Tennesseans know and love. After looking nearly everywhere, I found her curled up in a fencerow, her tiny ears already cold and unresponsive, but, remarkably, the newborn lamb was still alive. Without even thinking twice, I took her to the house, stripped the sheets off our bed and turned the electric blanket on to warm.

While the blanket was heating up, I carried my little lamb around with me as I looked in books for a good “sheep colostrum” recipe. After finding one for which I actually had all the needed ingredients, I returned my lamb to our bedroom and deposited her in the middle of our warm, fuzzy electric blanket and went to mix up a bottle. Not really expecting all of this attention and care to work, I was amazed when I returned with the bottle and found she was actually trying to stand on her own feet.

She was fighting hard to live, so I attempted to feed her. Amazingly, she liked my sheep formula and actually took a few sips before she drifted off to sleep for a bit. I found a clothes basket, lined it with towels and made a little bed for her, but she would not settle down in “her” bed, so all night she slept with me on my chest. I would get up to feed her every time she awoke, and she became stronger and healthier quite quickly.

I decided to call the lamb “Milk Dud.”

From that point on, Milk Dud thrived. She followed us around the farm like a puppy dog and would even squeeze through the porch door into the house if she knew it was feeding time.

The “click, clack” of her little hooves on the kitchen floor became commonplace. And, of course, Milk Dud became the best lead sheep we have ever had, as she would come running even when you did not want her to.

Yes, the sheep have shared my home on rare and necessary occasions, but they share my heart for all time.

After my Milk Dud, how could they not?

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