I had some other blog posts planned for the week, but as usual, real life got in the way.
Or, I should say, “farm life” got in the way.
Last year, Adam raised a bottle lamb for the fair, and we have been planning to do it again this year.
But the thing is, we didn’t know exactly when we’d get a lamb. So we were sort of prepared, but not really.
Sunday morning, our neighbor called and said that he had a set of triplets, and one wasn’t nursing. He had to bottle feed it every few hours around the clock, and he was getting tired of that, fast. And so, we picked it up Sunday afternoon, and now we’re bottle feeding it around the clock.
Bottle feeding an older lamb is easy – they grab right on and suck it down as fast as possible.
But new lambs are sort of like new babies. They don’t always have the hang of it right away. Our new lamb, Cuddles, seemed to be chewing on the nipple, more than sucking on it. And even after a few minutes, the level of milk in the bottle didn’t budge.
I couldn’t help but think back to the first few days of nursing my boys. Is he swallowing? Did he get enough? Does he have a good latch? What time should I feed him again?
All of the uncertainty came rushing back. I know it’s silly, comparing our lamb to a newborn baby, and I know that my feelings for this lamb are never, ever going to measure up to what I feel for my kids. But caring for that new lamb still brings out maternal feelings.
I’m hoping, in some way, that it makes my boys feel the same way. That maybe by taking care of a young, vulnerable animal, they’ll learn a little bit of the compassion and dedication it takes to be great parents some day. Maybe they’ll learn to put someone else’s needs first and the joy a parent feels as their child (or lamb) grows.
Cuddles is drinking her milk better now. Tonight she actually drained what we had mixed up for her. And we were so relieved. It’s nuts to think how anxious we are about a lamb.
But this is good training for my boys. Because some day, they won’t be little farm kids anymore. They’ll be grown up. Maybe they’ll be farmers. Probably they’ll be fathers.
And these experiences, worrying over the welfare of a lamb, will help prepare them for the situations in life where compassion, commitment, and problem solving really matter.