Easter Lambs

This story has been waiting in my notes for such a long time!  After an arduous winter and lambing hardships, the arrival of spring has rejuvenated my spirit.  In between lots of outdoor spring projects and work in general, I am making time to work on the blog again.  Even though it’s a little late, I am relieved to finally write about my first lamb experience…

I had to tear myself away from those sweet newborn lambs to leave for the Good Friday service.  To be honest, I felt like my joy was out of place while attending, but I didn’t think my premature Easter joy was disrespectful.  God loves lambs.

This first lambing season didn’t go as expected.  I was as prepared as I could be, but being prepared doesn’t matter when there are complications that cannot always be fixed.  The first birth back in January (Mum’s) was very hard for me to experience, with her stillborn lamb.  The next mama ewe was Dahlia, my favorite sheep.  I couldn’t bear to write about her after it happened.  She needed assistance during labor, but no one was able to get her twins out.  Our regular vet was unreachable.  After hours of other vets trying, not one person was able to help her. We lost Dahlia and her babies that night.  People kept telling me that these things happen, and that it wasn’t my fault. As the shepherd to my flock though, I was determined to do the best I could and be ready when the final two gave birth. Penny was the next mama.  In the middle of the night, she went into labor with a breech lamb that I helped deliver.  The delivery went so smoothly!  At first it seemed like all was well, but the lamb had a facial deformity that affected his breathing.  Sadly, he would never be able to breathe enough to sustain his life outside of the womb, and passed before morning.

After those three mothers had lost their lambs, my hopes for Freya, the last pregnant ewe, were not too high.  But I put the pressure on myself—I couldn’t let Freya’s birth go unnoticed.  I had to be there to help and do as much as I could.  So, I had alarms set every hour and a half throughout the night and checked on her just as frequently during the daytime.

I lived in a precarious state of limbo for three weeks.

Then on Good Friday, around noon, I was outside visiting the sheep.  I saw Freya pawing at the ground and going into the small pen in the shelter where she never chose to spend time before.  I grabbed a cinder block and sat down on it nearby to watch her.  She started straining with what I hoped was a contraction.

Eventually, the water bag showed up.  I ran through my mental lambing checklist: first comes the water bag, then about 30 minutes later I should see the hoofs, facing the proper way for a normal presentation…  I hurried inside to get my box of lamb stuff that had been sitting prepared for weeks.  One eye was on my watch, counting the minutes and knowing that I would have to make a decision pretty soon.  She’s a first-time mother though, so would any of those time frames really be accurate for her?

Materials acquired, I returned to my cinder block.  Right on time, two little hooves showed up.  They were pointing down.  Good.  Then she pushed again.  Seeing the joints confirmed that these were the front legs, and soon I could see the nose.  The lamb was in proper presentation, like a little diver.

Within a few more minutes, Freya successfully delivered her baby, all on her own.  After it dropped to the ground, she rushed away.  I grabbed my towel and cleaned away the goop from the lamb’s nose and mouth.  Freya was outside of the shelter, and my family who came outside to watch said she was starting to deliver another lamb (which wasn’t too surprising, she was HUGE).  Since she was preoccupied, I worked on drying her first lamb.

It was a boy, a black and brown woolly body with cute white markings on his face.  His twin, a girl, was born not too long after.  We moved the little family into the shelter and closed the jug gate.  With heat lamps lit and little coats on the lambs, we tried to make it as warm as possible in the below freezing weather.  I sat in the hay next to them for probably two hours, watching them stand up all wobbly and trying to figure out how to nurse.  Once I was satisfied they were all okay, I headed back inside to get ready to go to church.  I wasn’t sure whether to heave a sigh of relief or whoop in triumph.  A long period of Lenten sacrifice had ended in Easter joy.

Thus ends the long and unexpected journey of my first lambing season.  In hindsight, I am glad to have experienced it all, but I still mourn the lives lost in the harsh realities of nature.

But now it is springtime, and everyone is doing wonderfully.  You’ll get to meet the lambs soon, so don’t fret!  I’ll have photos and their names coming up in a happy little post next.  Until then, here’s a peek from the day they were born.  Thanks for following along with this little flock in the Driftless region.


Creation + Courage

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I’ve been thinking about the creation process of Driftless Woolens and what it took for me to actually believe I could start something like that.  My dream business wasn’t born overnight.  There was a lot of back and forth going on inside of me before I had the confidence to pursue my goal.

Creating is something we are all meant to do.  Making, designing, even thinking about ideas are the most basic forms I could think of for creating.  Everyone creates, whether they realize it or not.

I am an avid knitter, but a casual one.  When I was young, very few of my friends knew I liked to knit.  I created quietly, for my own personal enjoyment and satisfaction.  Not many people knew that the scarf or hat I wore was something I made myself.  I was content with keeping it to myself, though.  It was my own little world of creativity where I could try new ideas and play with color and texture, but not worry about what someone else might think of what I made.

When products or ideas are shared, it is not only the creation that is on display, it is the creator as well.  Suddenly it is now being seen by someone else who will have opinions of it. It is now being judged, and those judgments are a reflection of its creator, well received, or not.

I didn’t want to be graded on my work because I had created for myself, not for somebody else.  But then as I got older I realized how I felt connected to others’ creations.  There were songs, books, artwork…ideas that someone had shared with the world…that made a significant difference in my life.  Did I care about anything I had created enough to want to share it with others?  Maybe, I thought.  But someone’s already done that.  Will what I create even matter?


And this is where creation goes along with courage.  If the creator truly cares about and believes in their work, why wouldn’t they want to share it with others so they can enjoy it too?

Staying away from creating because of a fear that it’s already been done before is a lie we tell ourselves.  Thinking that we simply lack the courage to produce something worthwhile restricts our natural need to create.

C.S. Lewis said, “Even in literature and art, no man who bothers about originality will ever be original: whereas if you simply try to tell the truth (without caring twopence how often it has been told before) you will, nine times out of ten, become original without ever having noticed it.”

Don’t be afraid of sharing something you love creating.  I tell that to myself, and I offer that to you, fellow creator.  We can’t keep our gifts to ourselves (well, I guess you could, but that would be considered selfish, don’t you think?).

We have to create and have courage to show the world, or maybe just our own small corner of it, what we have made…and what we are made of.