BAAAA! BAAA! Daggone it! The two lambs have spotted me sneaking around the shed. They spring up from their resting place in a patch of clover and chase me down. BAAA! BAAA! BAAA! They are insistent, butting my knees, nibbling my fingers, even jumping up and planting their hooves on my belly. They are looking for my udder, which is usually in the form of a plastic bottle with a red nipple, but I am weaning them, just as their own woolly mamas might, if they hadn't abandoned them.
I have complete sympathy with those curly-fleeced moms right now. I'm also trying to abandon the lambs, but not having much luck. This time of year, walk into any pasture full of sheep and you will spot wooly rumps bobbing into the air as lambs kneel under their moms and grab a quick suck. The lambs are half as tall as their moms and when they nurse they pile drive the mama sheep's legs up off the ground. My two little orphans are capable of some pretty muscular moves themselves. That's why I've taken to sneaking around the shed these days.
When they first came to me, they were so cute. Big eyes under wooly bangs, knobby knees, flickery tails. I don't usually name the lambs, but because Joe told me these were mine to keep for breeding stock, I named them Carol and Dotty. Dotty wouldn't drink much. For the first two weeks of her life, she was a sheep sommelier as she smelled, then tasted, then sucked in each mouthful of Land O Lake's finest which she rolled around her tongue until she could determine its vintage. Each swallow was followed with a plaintive baa that clearly said, "This is not my mother's milk." It took fifteen to twenty minutes for her to finish a bottle.
Carol, on the other hand, sucked her bottle down like a thirsty construction worker at a bar on a Friday night. She was done in two minutes and, drunk on cream, she became aggressive, pushing Dotty away as she attempted to steal some more milk. Each night was a struggle.Then the dog attacked Dotty and I had to bandage her on a daily basis. That's when I discovered that she loved to be held just like a real baby. Cradled in my arms, she tucked her nibbly lips underneath my chin and sighed contentedly as I wrapped and unwrapped bandages from a front and back leg.
I know better. I really do. If calves or lambs become pets, then they become pests. And eventually pests become dangerous. But a face framed in cloudy white fuzz was my undoing. Dotty was just so darn cute.
Now, she and Carol have grown into cute assassins. If I'm not careful, they'll take me down.
There's a third lamb in the barn. Scott discovered it two weeks ago, out in a field limping pitifully after the flock. It had broken the top part of its back leg. This new lamb is confined to a small pen until the leg heals, and every day I am responsible for bringing it some fresh grass and water. This has complicated my life because when I am crawling around on all fours tearing up handfuls of grass, I resemble a ewe. When Carol and Dotty spot me, they sprint over. Both of them slip their heads beneath my belly and pile drive my back end up into the air. I gather up the grass I've pulled and I run to the barn. Dotty and Carol skip along behind me. This new game is fun. When I reach the safety of the shed, I slide the door shut. The new lamb is skittish as I dump the grass over into the pen. That's the proper relationship between lamb and farmer.
BAAA! BAAA! BAAA! Dotty and Carol, are circling the barn. I watch them through a crack in the door. Maybe I can sneak out when they make the next lap. Then the new lamb takes a deep breath. "BAAAAA!" it hollers. The two Lambzillas pull up short and circle back to the opening, poking their heads in as I back into the corner. They widen the gap and bulldoze through. With nowhere left to hide, I leap into the pen with the third lamb. By the time Dotty and Carol give up, the new lamb is nibbling on my ear.
I think I'll call it Franky. That's short for Frankenstein. After all, I've just created another monster.