About Me

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I am a mother, a teacher, and a nature lover. I grew up on a mountain we called Owls' Knob in the Ozarks of Arkansas. The first seven years of my life were spent living in a log cabin, far from a store or streetlight, without electricity or running water and after twenty years of travel, I returned to the abondoned homestead. Now I live on a hill by a small lake and work at a public garden. These are stories about nature written from a women deeply influenced by place.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Visiting the Farm

Mother sheep and twins still crusty with afterbirth
     A bitterly cold winter night in January is birthing time on my uncle's farm. His sheep seem to aways give birth at night and often during the cold months of late winter or very early spring. During the last cold snap, triplets were born. Some sheep are more inclined to birth one lamb, others birth twins most often, and some ewes will birth triplets. Though my uncle's sheep usually have one or two babies, he does not see triplets very often. Even more rarely do they all live.
     It is especially hard to keep lambs alive on cold winter nights. They arrive wet in a cold world and though their mother licks them dry, the cold wind can kill them, especially the one who is licked dry last. It seems counter intuitive to birth a lamb on a cold winter night, but perhaps it comes from a fear of something much more dangerous than the cold, like wolves. Predators are less likely to be out on the prowl if the weather is fowl, so the sheep brave the cold to give their babies a head start.
Less than a day old lamb
     It doesn't take long for lambs to start frolicking in the fields. When born at night, they are usually fairly sturdy on their feet by noon. Within a day, they are hard to catch. It is important for lambs to run from predators as soon as possible. Sometimes it makes me wonder how human babies survive, being so helpless for so long.
     Last weekend, the weather in the Ozarks was as perfect as it gets on a January day. The sun shone bright in the cloudless sky and the lite breeze blew warm air over the hills. I decided it was a perfect day to escape the confinements of the city and explore the countryside. My uncle invited us out to his farm, where the lamb triplets were only three days old.
     My three year old son was delighted as usual by the innocence on the baby lambs. He laughs when he sees them run with a glee that he only achive outside. We managed to catch one and he gently pet its tiny head while I held it. We talked about the baby with enthusiasim. He has been facinated with babies ever since my pregnant belly began to grow.
Curious young cow
The cows make him smile too. He wanted to feed them grass from the other side of the fence. Though they ventured much closer to him--being only a few feet tall--then they would to us, they were not brave enough to eat out of his hand. I see cows every day while driving, from a far. But I forget how big they are until I am standing next to one. Despite their size, they are gentle and easily spooked.
     Most days we collect eggs from the chicken house and feed the koi fish in my aunt's fish pond. Sitting on the tractor and pretending to drive is also fun, but no as exciting as riding on my uncle's solar powered golf cart. Zane was even allowed to steer the golf car all by himself.
     Though the day was beautiful, it was also short. As the sun set, the cool winter temperatures crept under our skin. I know my son enjoyed his day at the farm, but perhaps not as much as I enjoy seeing him there. So often he has his head buried in a book or his eyes are glued to a screen. I wish he could spend more days herding sheep, collecting eggs, and feeding fish. Perhaps we will have our own farm one day soon. For now, I will just keep exposing him to the country side as much as I can. 


  1. What a sweet post. I could almost hear your boy's laugh :)

  2. Nothing like being outside on a farm especially with babies. Great post.

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  3. You and Zane look so happy! Thanks for sharing. It's very nice to be out on the farm. Hope you and John have the opportunity to spend more time with Zane, and the little one coming, out on the land/farm. He's getting so big!