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Monday, August 22, 2011

Lamb-baby goes to the cottage


The Professor has been on vacation for a week but the Farmer has been working like a dog. I’m not sure why he uses that particular expression—he must be referring to the sheepdog and not our lazy watchdog. Anyway, in order to get the Farmer to relax while on vacation, I must spirit him away from the farm.
We were invited to my sister’s fiance’s cottage in Quebec for a few days. This is a great idea. We don’t have to spend a lot of time planning and packing camping equipment and food. We just throw some clothes in a bag and drive for a couple of hours.
Our only problem was we had a lamb born two weeks ago, and the mother won’t feed it. That lamb-baby is more mine than the ewe’s, because I am the one who mixes bottles of milk replacer, offers it words of encouragement and scratches its back while it feeds. I even know the sound of its call. I can pick it out of dozens of other lambs calling from the barn. It needs me. So we had to bring it to the cottage with us.
On the morning of our trip, I packed everything in the truck, then brought some old ripped sheets and blankets up from the basement. A lamb on a completely liquid diet makes quite a mess. When we were just about ready to hit the road, I scooped the lamb up from its pen in the barn, fed it the rest of its bottle and gently shoved it into a dog carrier that I had put in the back of the Explorer. The lamb baaaed as it skated around the plastic floor of the carrier on its high heeled hooves. I opened the crate door and pushed one of the towels in there with him. Finding traction, he settled down for a nap and off we went.
We chatted on our drive, my Farmer and I. I also sang along to the radio. I noticed that the lamb cried when I was quiet for more than a few minutes so I made a point of saying something every once in a while. I’m sure the Farmer is worried I am becoming too attached to this lamb.
At the cottage, my animal-loving sister had already set up a corral of doggy gates (she owns two large Basset Hounds) within a screened dining tent. I set the lamb crate down inside this corral and tied the bottle brace to the side. There. Quite a nice set up, at the top of the hill, overlooking the lake. There was even a lovely breeze just there, under the pine trees.
I went into the cottage and set up the blender to make my lamb some more milk. The blender dial must have been jostled on our ride, because it was turned to “on”. I didn’t notice this until about one second after I plugged the thing in—without first putting the lid on it. That corner of the cottage kitchen is now extremely clean.  
Everything went quite well during the day on our cottage visit; the hounds spent much of their time nose-to-nose with the lamb, keeping it company. A bottle of milk replacer was strapped to the side of the corral so the lamb could feed on demand. But when night fell, it was a different story.
Lambs hate to be alone. When the dogs retreated to their beds for the night and the loons began to call over the lake, the lamb started to cry for his mama. And his brother. And his aunt and uncle. The Farmer suggested we do what he did when he adopted a puppy that wouldn’t stop crying. Feed it, make it a nice bed, and lock it in the back of the truck. So that’s what I did. It seemed cruel and neglectful to me at first, but I could see the lamb settling down right away in its cozy space. In the morning, I brought it back out to the corral again.
All in all, it was a successful outing. The Farmer and I had a nice break, we have good tans and we both managed to finish our books. The only problem is I now have a lamb who calls for me from the barnyard, thinking I’m its mother.

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