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Friday, June 11, 2010

Skinny Love's Lucky Day

Normally when we are loading the sheep onto the truck for market, I tell them there is always the chance that someone will buy them as a pet. They go to auction, strut through the ring, and who knows? They don’t always end up in someone’s freezer, with a recipe for moussaka taped to their side. You don’t believe me? Well, remember Skinny Love? Now I have a real story to tell the sheep about the possibility of life after the farm.
Skinny was born a multiple, and she was what you might consider a runt of the litter. But she was surviving. When the weather got warm enough to let mom and lambs out onto the pasture, however, Skinny promptly lost track of her family. She didn’t cry much. If she had, perhaps her mother would have identified herself. But sometimes you end up with a mother who is not exactly maternal. One who loses count of her own offspring. In any case, Skinny spent most of her energy each day trotting after one ewe or another, blending in with the other lambs, and attempting to steal milk. It took all the energy she had. Soon Skinny was tired out. And she had that horrible hunched-over look that lambs get when they just aren’t getting enough to fill their tummies.
Skinny hadn’t been given a bottle since birth, so she didn’t know what it was.
The good thing about a weak lamb, however, is that they are easy to catch. Every morning I would sneak up on Skinny and tackle her, then assist her with the bottle until she caught on. Luckily she caught on fast.
Soon she was running up to me when she saw me approach with the bottle. I fed her morning and night, and that seemed to be the added little bit that she needed to keep her going, on top of what she managed to steal every day.
Then came the day when she didn’t need me anymore. She would still approach when she saw me, but she wasn’t interested in the milk. She was on grass now. She was a big girl. And she still wouldn’t let me catch and cuddle her. I was proud that she had thrived. Another little success story on the farm. But this is not the end of the Skinny Love story.
Last week, someone who had read my story about Skinny Love in the paper called us up and announced that they would like to buy a lamb. Now, I normally stay out of the whole lamb-marketing business. I try not to name them, and I don’t even look at their ear tag numbers. I don’t want to know who is leaving. The Farmer is careful not to sell any of the ones that he sees me regularly carting around in my arms. He knows my favourites.
But this was a new situation. The caller was not looking for a lamb for meat. She wanted it as a pet. And she was buying it for a neighbour, as a companion to the lamb she already had. The Farmer asked me if I had any lambs that would suit.
I had one in mind.
When the ladies arrived at the farm, they followed me out to the pasture and watched as I called for Skinny. Soon, a head popped up and the little lamb came bounding over. She wasn’t the whitest, fluffiest, stockiest lamb of the bunch, but with a little TLC I’m sure she will clean up just fine. The Farmer cut a whole in the bottom of a feed sack and we put Skinny’s head through it. The lamb sat quietly on the woman’s lap in her little feed-bag dress and gave a shiver, as if she was anticipating adventure.
I hope everything goes well for all concerned at Skinny’s new home. And if you have a moment, new owner of Skinny the lamb, would you give me a call or send me an email just to let me know how she is doing? She was one of my favourites.

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