It is the tiniest of sounds, yet it penetrates the collection of louder and deeper bleats that surround it. The nervous call of a newborn lamb, wandering, just out of my sight, among the mass of ewes. The flock is huddled out of the rain, inside the barn, but it takes only a shaken feed bucket to part the woolen sea and the ewes pour out into the corral for the proffered feast.
One indecisive ewe runs halfway out, then is brought up short, as if a cord around her neck has been yanked tight. The lamb bleats again, and another joins in, and Mom is instinctively pulled back to her newborn twins. She still trails afterbirth. The lambs, still wet with blood and mucous, are already standing and look sturdy.
I scoop them up, one in each arm, and flip them over quickly: one boy and one girl. I hold them close to the ground for the mother to see, then slowly “walk” them to an empty lambing pen. Mom follows with an attentive eye and motherly bleat. Once inside the pen, she inspects the babies and gives her chuckle to settle them down. Fresh hay, a little grain, and a bucket of water for Mama and I leave the babies to nurse.
Other ewes with lambs, in their own pens nearby, begin to vocalize their desire to be fed. I see to their needs and turn my attention to the larger flock, then the chickens, pigs, and cattle, finishing my morning chores by turning on the irrigation in the hoophouse.
Chores complete, I pause in the breezeway of the barn. I get down on one knee and place an arm around each dog. We stay like that for some minutes watching the day arrive, all three of us content for a little peace on this day. Becky breaks the truce with a growl, and I stand up and leave her and Grainger to sort out their own issues. My traditional Christmas plate of blueberry pancakes smothered with Steen’s syrup awaits.