Today’s little angel entered my life late at night on February 1, 2020. I was winding down and had donned my PJs, when I remembered that I’d forgotten to feed our two outside cats. So I took some Cat Chow outside, and as I was filling up their food and water bowls, I heard a terrified-sounding little voice floating up at me from the barn.
It takes a while, if you have sheep (or probably any livestock), but after a few go-rounds, you can actually distinguish the brand-spanky new lamb bleat from yesterday’s, or last week’s, brand-spanky new lamb bleat. There really is a difference, and when there’s a new one, you need to check. And pretty soon you find that you can distinguish the “I’m a happy little lamb with a loving mom, and lots of yummy milk!” conversation (the mother usually responds, quietly, with what’s sometimes called a ‘nicker’), from the “I’m OK, but I’m lost and I can’t find Mom anywhere, please help!” rather panicky-sounding little noises (usually accompanied by great bellows from the equally distraught mother), from the “I’m in real trouble, and perhaps getting a bit desperate” fading and terribly sad little sound with no response at all.
That night, it was the third sort of sound that I heard. So I went down to the barn, to discover that a young mother had just had twins. As sometimes happens with twins, especially with the younger moms, she’d dropped the first one, and then it must have occurred to her, somewhere in the dim recesses of her sheepy little brain, that she wasn’t done yet, and she wandered into another corner of the barn to have the second one. By the time it appeared, she’d forgotten all about the first one, which she hadn’t cleaned up, and the little black lamb was lying on the barn floor shivering and pretty flat. I cleaned her up, and then tried to get her back with Mom and sib. It didn’t work, and Mom seemed determined to fling her firstborn around like a rag doll, something I just can’t abide.
It was late, it was cold, and I just wasn’t in the mood to argue.
So I brought the little cutie into the living room , and set up the Pack ‘n Play I keep around for just this purpose. (I have a system: Plastic garbage bag covering the pad on the bottom. Layer of “wheat” litter I use for the rabbits (in case she nibbles it, so it won’t hurt her). Layer of hay. Ratty old towel. In she goes. Cover with flannel sheet or comforter.) She’ll settle because it’s dark and she’s warm.
Until she’s hungry. Up every 90 min to two hours to feed her. So far so good, inasmuch as it is possible to be so under those circumstances, and to be, let’s not gloss over the fact, not smelling too good, neither.
She was very cute. And seemed healthy. Sometimes, Mom really does know best, and more times than is possible to ascribe to coincidence, she will reject a baby with a congenital defect. They really do seem to know. Sometimes, if it’s not serious, it doesn’t really matter. Sometimes, the baby won’t survive. Still, we have to try.
This little girl was particularly fond of Mr. Right, and used to sit in his favorite chair. I suggested to him that he might have to move to the barn in exchange, but he wasn’t so down with that idea. Fortunately, they’ve come to terms and discovered to their mutual delight, that it was possible for them both to fit in there together.
I’m not over the moon with joy to have a lamb in the house (first one for two years*), but I have to say, there’s something very soothing about having little woolly creature snuggled up on my lap administering sloppy wet kisses to my hand every few minutes. I know she only does it because she wants a bottle, but still . . .
Her name is Pnit. The “P” is silent. She’s my second pet with a silent “P” to its name. For, let’s not forget, my sheep are pets. (Or as Mr. She used to say, “we run a welfare program for the sheep and goats,” which amounts to much the same thing).
Here she is, the night she was born..