I grew up on a small hobby farm with mostly sheep, chickens, rabbits, turkeys and lots of vegetable gardens and fruit trees. Some of the animals were raised for meat or food and some were raised for their wool, which was turned into yarn. My family always tried to sustain ourselves as much as possible on things cultivated from our own farm – frozen food from the animals or garden, canned pickles and applesauce, home grown, spun and knit sweaters and hats, that type of stuff.
Farms, no matter how small, are a lot of work. The twice daily chore list is always there and as a kid I was incorporated into the chores. I would help in the garden picking peas; I would collect and carefully carry chicken eggs; and I would hold gates open or closed as sheep moved in and out of the barn. I never loved doing the chores, and I am sure I did not do them as much as my memory tells me I did, but it was simply our house and our routine season after season and year after year.
One part of the chore routine that I always loved and still miss today was going to the barn on early spring mornings to check to see if lambs had been born overnight. My mom would always make it exciting as if seeing the first new lamb of the year meant I won some kind of special farm prize. Their tiny little bodies were so new and wobbly, and they would look so surprised and confused when they would see their first human enter the barn. As if this new world hadn’t shown them enough wonders already and then a person walks into the barn and feeds their mom!
If I saw a lamb, I would get the excited opportunity to report how many I saw and what colour it was. I learned how to check to see if they were getting milk from their mothers and, if they weren’t, I learned how to bottle feed them. The imagine of a kid not too far outside of baby bottles themselves bottle feeding a lamb warms my heart.
I moved away from home after high school many years ago, but the sheep are still there, and the lambs still come every spring. I get photos every year of every lamb that is born and I miss that excited feeling of spring with new lambs on the farm. It meant things were changing, spring was coming, the world was opening again. When you have experienced new spring full of cute lambs on your family’s farm is it something to be missed when you move away.