“The word ‘happiness’ would lose it’s meaning if it were not balanced by sadness” ~Carl Jung

If you’ve been a reader for a few months, you might remember I teased about one of our sheep, Wallee being pregnant. Turns out, Wallee and Sadee both were pregnant! We were excited and nervous to have some new babies running around. We had done a lot more research after what happened with Ellee so we felt a lot more prepared for this go-round. Well, as prepared as we could be… We jokingly renamed the paddock the “maternity ward”.

We knew Wallee was getting close. She was showing all the signs. We started checking on her multiple times throughout the day. September 18 we had gone to bed as usual. I woke up around midnight to Frostee barking. This is not unusual, Great Pyrenees are nocturnal protectors so she barks most nights. But her bark sounded different. I went to the back door and could not believe my eyes. There, running around the paddock, was a teeny baby lamb! I went and woke up Josh and we immediately got dressed and ran down to the paddock. We moved Wally and the little baby to the smaller kennel so they could bond uninterrupted and we could keep an eye on them. We were immediately in love with this little guy. We named him Willee.

He was so precious. Almost entirely all black, except for a few white spots on his side. And the roundest little head that looked like a miniature of Dodger’s head! We were so concerned about him, our first live birth on the ranch. We spent a lot of time that first day in the kennel with him and Wallee. Trying to make sure he was nursing, making sure he was walking, making sure Wallee was eating and drinking. Little did we know, that was our first mistake. Mama sheep raise lambs unassisted all the time in the wild. They, 99% of the time, do not require human intervention. But we didn’t know. We didn’t think he was eating enough, so we mixed up some colostrum in a bottle and started to try to bottle feed him. He would eat a little bit but not very much. That was our second mistake. He inhaled some of the milk during feeding.

He found the water bucket and we thought it was so cute he was already drinking water! Our final mistake. He chose to start filling up on water instead of nutritious Mama’s milk. The second night, September 20, it became apparent he was not doing well. He would not get up and walk around. He did not want milk. He wasn’t interested in Wallee’s milk. He did not even want to raise his head off the ground. We brought him inside and called the vet. As I carried him in, I could hear the dreaded rattle in his lungs as he breathed. The vet was on a ranch and wouldn’t be able to get to us until late that night. We tried to keep him warm and comfortable. Not long after we brought him in, we lost our little lamb. It was one of the saddest moments for us here. In the span of 48 hours we went from immense joy to incredible sadness.

We buried him near the back pasture that night by the light of the tractor. We hugged each other and told him goodbye. We began praying that Sadee’s lamb would not arrive until we had the chance to fully research what happened, and learned what to do next time. While this was an incredibly sad situation, it was a great teaching moment for us. It led us to really look into what we should and shouldn’t do during labor and the first few days. Absolutely nothing. Just as we try to do in all aspects of our lives, we let God handle it.

Image available from Etsy

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