In the spring, when lambs are running around the farm, I spend countless hours in the barn building a foundation of socialization and trust with the little ones. My time is brief in the morning, at feeding time, as I get ready for work. I allow myself a greater period of time in the evenings as I head to the barn to relax following a long day. This is my greatest opportunity to build a relationship with each of my lambs. The lambs bond strongly with me.
The lambs will startle and be shy when a new face comes into the barnyard, but the foundation I lay allows them to warm up more easily to a new guest. This new guest just may be the owner of their new farm. The shepherd that they will spend the rest of their lives with. I want my lambs to move on to their farms and to thrive emotionally and physically. I hope that this trust they develop with me will help them to trust others as they move on from Tiny Seed Farm.
Generally, this bonding time is between me and the lambs and no one else is around to witness the incredible sweetness of being surrounded by a flock of wee woolies.
So...today I decided to do something...
I placed my phone across the stall to record our interactions. In true sheep fashion, the presence of the phone raised both suspicion and curiosity. It was quite entertaining to watch all the lambs approach the phone and stare at the foreign creatures staring back at them from the screen. Eventually they gave it up and came back to me for snuggles and scratches.
On a side note...This spring there were three ewe lambs born on the farm. Two will be heading to their new farms at the end of May and one beautiful girl, Violet, will be staying on as a permanent member of the Tiny Seed Farm flock. From the first days of life, Nova and Whippoorwill (the two ewes that were sold) confidently approached me for snuggles and would even climb into my lap. I enjoyed every minute but it was slightly bittersweet because, as I was able to love all over these ewe lambs, my Violet wanted nothing to do with me.
This tendency towards shyness is, in great part, due to Violet's mother Charlotte. Charlotte is a moderately over-bearing mother and keeps her lambs on a short leash. In turn, Charlotte's lambs respect her demands and never stray far. The other lambs in the flock are allowed more freedom from their mothers and that independence allows them to stray from their moms and to approach me. Don't get me wrong, Charlotte is a wonderfully sweet and social ewe and her lambs have all found there way to me...it just takes them a little longer.
Three weeks ago, Violet found her way to me. I have discovered that if I can get them close enough to allow me to reach out and to scratch their chests, they will be a forever friend. I'll admit there may have been a tear or two the first time Violet came to me and allowed me to scratch her. It was well worth the wait. Since that day she has been one of the first lambs to visit me when I come into the barnyard. Several times she has even laid down next to me and snuggled up for affection. Patience, indeed, won the day.
As the day draws near that my lambs will move on, I pray that their new farms will find the beauty in taking those few extra moments with the individuals in their flocks. It is this time that allows a shepherd to experience the bond that patience and gentleness will provide.
Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Ephesians 4:2
I have always enjoyed the outdoors, the quiet, the excitement, the colors, the varieties of landscapes and animals and vegetation. I finished college with plans of heading west and working with wildlife and research. Plans changed and I began to work in veterinary medicine. This became my passion and I spent 10 years working at a large animal hospital in the NICU and ICU. Our young family decided to move after that and I spent a couple years with my little ones. Feeling the need to get back into work, I found a home in small animal veterinary medicine. 11 years later I am a licensed veterinary technician and a Certified Canine Rehabilitation Practitioner. I work full-time in a pain and rehabilitation center and it is a career that I am extremely passionate about.