The last ewe lambed! It’s a time for celebrating for so many reasons. This signals spring, tender shoots coming out of the soil, budding bushes and trees, babies everywhere, spring bird song, longer days and more light. I feel a little guilty saying all this, because I know our friends around the country are still getting pounded with snow and cold. My heart goes out to you. It’s a favorite time of year for the guard dogs too. They’re enjoying napping in the sun with the warmth hitting their coats, warning off coyotes from anywhere near the lambing area and cleaning up little lambs where mamas will let them. I think they’re aware of their special importance right now in protecting these young lambs.
I am so happy, because I have bummers! They are my joy. Their little faces are so sweet and they light up when they hear your voice. They come bounding to greet you with cries of excitement, tails wiggling, and oh how they love their bottle! And the one who brings it! I never get tired of this part of our life. These little lambs bond so quickly, and are a real, immediate and tangible connection to things more important than us, nature.
I’ve written about connections before. Things that connect us to each other, but these little lambs tie us to something so much bigger. They are instant evidence that we live inside nature’s ecosystem, not apart from it. Instead of us understanding that and living in a way that respects nature at all times and in all decisions, we humans too often live in a way that fails nature. There have been some great thinkers and writers who have expressed this eloquently, one of my favorites being Aldo Leopold. And I’ve also had the privilege of knowing farmers, ranchers and neighbors who have lived with the kind of voluntary decency (Leopold) critical to the future, out of their love for the land and its creatures.
Sometime in the last year, we were accused of being into agriculture only for the profits. That comes from someone who doesn’t know our life at all, or our business. It bothered me at the time, even though it just isn’t true. There’s so much in agriculture that brings you pleasure, and has value, and it has nothing to do with money. It’s things you enjoy and love, and work that has value. Providing food, clothing and shelter may not be so glamorous in today’s culture, but it’s vital. Most people in agriculture are motivated by the fabric of what they do. I was reminded me of a quote by John F. Kennedy, “The farmer is the only man in our economy who buys everything at retail, sells everything at wholesale, and pays the freight both ways.” That’s not a smart path to riches!
So these precious bummer lambs are just that, and a whole lot more. They are one thing that represents the need for a “whole ethic” with regard to land and nature. Someone asked me the other day if I had named the bummer lambs yet. I will, but each has a unique personality, and given time, they name themselves! There are those who are so sweet, and maybe shy, with names like Sweet Pea or Daisy. Those extra full of energy like Red Bull, or who demonstrate exaggerated motor skills earning names like Bouncer, Jumper or Speedy Gonzales. If they’re the fastest at sucking the bottle, then Quick Draw or Pistol; or one who will rob any ewe available of her milk is the Robber! A lamb with more unique or perhaps atypical wool, might become Fuzzy or Wooliam. The most classic bummer personality of the season will be this year’s version of Peep; or maybe there’s a Slow Poke. And the smallest of the bunch may be tagged Tiny Tot, Little Bit or Tadpole. You know there are always princesses, sweet ones like Sugar Princess, and demanding ones like Tiger Princess. And of course, there’s always a Crybaby. I love them all. People often ask, “How you can tell them apart?” That’s a silly question!
Come see one of these wonderful lambs this Friday at Twisted in Portland, as we participate in the Rose City Yarn Crawl between noon and 3 p.m. Or later on, join us and visit them at the ranch during the upcoming Vogue Knitting LIVE! Destination Experience June 5-8, 2015. May spring come for all of you as quickly as possible!