Missing my Mom… A Bummer Lamb asks, “Are you my Mother”?… and How I Learned to Milk a Sheep…

It’s a narrow twig tying this all together, but I am still getting the hang of this WordPress thing (I may have accidentally deleted more text than I have published in the last couple of days) so I am sort of tying this all together.  Good luck, I hope you can follow along…

It’s almost Mother’s day, and I have to say that I miss my mom, deeply.  It’s been just over 3 years since she crossed over, and honestly, sometimes it feels like yesterday.  She and I didn’t always have the greatest relationship,  ups and down like most Mother-Daughter relationships, but the last few years before she passed were sweet, and those are the memories that bubble to the surface the most, when I think of my Mom.  For those of you that don’t know,  I live in a place that has been part of my family’s history for many, many years (almost as long as I’ve been on this planet and that’s a long time!)  Many of the flowers and shrubs here were planted by my Mom… her hands…  so she’s everywhere…

The purple azalea bush…

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The salmon-colored rhododendron…

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and the clusters of peonies throughout the yard.   Every day I think of her, especially this time of year, when the flowers she so lovingly planted are blooming, and continue to remind me of her.

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More On the topic of Mothers…

Last weekend, in the yarn shop, several of us began discussing our mothers.  I don’t remember why or how we got on the subject, but the conversation made me realize how fortunate I was to have had a mom that not only gave birth to me (ouch!), but also stuck around to see me (allegedly) grow up.  I was never given away, abandoned or abused.   You know, that whole nature vs. nurture thing…  What makes someone (or something) a good mother (or a not-so-good one).   Sometimes, even Mother Nature can get it wrong… Fortunately, sometimes, someone has the grace to step in, and pick up, where Mother Nature left off…

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Meet Nieve (above) a bummer lamb, born yesterday morning and abandoned by her “bad ewe” of a mother.  Marcia found her out in the pasture, cold, dirty and all alone, but thankfully still alive.  Marcia rigged up a bottle for her and managed to feed her a bit of formula.   After I arrived, Marcia made her another bottle.  The little lamb latched on to the bottle and completely finished it!  Then she fell asleep in my arms.  Sweet!   Marcia said it was a good sign – she was eating…

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Flashback, 2007…  Meet “Constance” (above).   I first learned about bummer lambs from my friend Linda Jacobs, when one of  her Jacob ewes had twins.  There had been a bit of a delay between the two births and for some unknown reason, the ewe rejected the second lamb, just kicked her away, simply did not recognize the lamb as her own.   Linda said, “That’s called a bummer”.    So, my friend Linda immediately became this lamb’s mother, bonding and bottle-feeding every few hours (she also kept the baby lamb with her in the house!).  I remember it like yesterday… it was Mother’s day weekend and we had just opened the yarn shop in Port Gamble (at that time, down in the old fire hall) and Linda was supposed to be there to help me.  “I’ll be there” she said, “but I have to bring Constance”, and she did.   Constance was only 2 days old and was completely bonded with Linda, who rarely moved from her chair because the lamb, bedded down in a crate next to where she was sitting,  would make all kinds of racket if Linda was out of her sight, honest, even a few steps away!  It would “baaaaaaaa-baaaa”, as if to say “maaaaaaa-maaa”.   It was the first time I had seen anything like it and it was amazing to me – the bond between Linda and that little lamb!!

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Back to yesterday and  Nieve…(above) Drinking her mama sheep’s milk from a coca-cola bottle… yes we milked a sheep yesterday!

One of the ewes we brought down from the pasture yesterday for crutching and wigging, etc .(see previous post for explanation of terms)  had to be this little lamb’s mother, and, by gosh, we were going to figure this out.  Every time Marcia flipped a ewe over for “clean up”,  she first checked for a full udder (uh, she was also checking to see if anybody else was pregnant, because the last two births, in the last two days,  were a HUGE surprise).  Flip, Nope.  Flip, Nope.  Flip,  Bingo!  We had this little lamb’s mother!  I don’t know why I was so surprised and excited, after all she had to be among them, right?  Unless she really had fled the scene of the crime (abandonment) and was hiding out in some remote corner of the pasture…  Nope.  No apparent remorse for abandoning her offspring.    All I could think of is “What the hell is wrong with you, you left your baby!” But, I guess it’s just not that uncommon…   Bummer.   So, Marcia cleaned up the mom and we tried to re-introduce the two of them.  After all, they had met, even if briefly, when the lamb hit the ground and the mom probably said something like “where the hell did you come from?” and then just walked away.  Double-Bummer.   The attempted reunion was obviously too little too late.   The ewe had no clue who this little creature was and wanted absolutely nothing to do with her.   No recognition, no bonding, no nothing.  Nada.   How does that happen?  I wondered…   Sharon, on the other hand, had already stepped in, cuddled and nuzzled this little lamb-y-kins, and it was bonding with her almost immediately, making little lamb-y sounds and rubbing her nose against Sharon’s face, as if to say “Are you my Mother?” and happily,  Sharon’s answer was “Yes, I am”…  All in all, a  very happy ending… Sharon and Rick have a new lamb they named Nieve,  Nieve has a new loving family, and now you know the reason why I learned to milk a sheep!

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2 responses to “Missing my Mom… A Bummer Lamb asks, “Are you my Mother”?… and How I Learned to Milk a Sheep…

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