Sheep in a box

Sheep in the box
“This is only her box. The sheep you asked for is inside.”

About a month ago, we bought a sheep. Every year for Genna, Ethiopian Christmas, we buy a sheep and roast it for our staff. Sheep are getting more and more expensive, and it seemed logical to me that instead of buying a ram every year, we should buy a pregnant ewe and raise our own sheep.

We bought Tuesday on a Tuesday, and Bruce made a spreadsheet and took down bets from staff–when she would deliver, how many babies, gender, etc. Since then he lost the roster, but in general we were betting mid to late krempt (rainy season), August or September.

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Imagine our surprise when on Monday morning we found this tiny, fragile creature in our sheep pen (shortly before she went to visit Jacob in his bed.). Tuesday was a first-time mother and kept kicking her baby away. I held mama sheep leg up in one hand and baby sheep head in the other, and introduced the concept of nursing to both of them. I honestly didn’t expect the lamb to live out the night. Its front knee joints were hyper-extended and all its bones were showing. There was a thunderstorm Monday night, and I fully expected a dead baby sheep the next morning.

Imagine our surprise when Thadwos banged on our door Tuesday morning to tell us the big sheep was dead! The tiny lamb, skinnier than ever, was wobbling beside the ewe’s body. The hay had been pawed away and the dirt torn up like she was thrashing in pain. Poor Tuesday. She came to us on a Tuesday and left on a Tuesday. I don’t know what happened. Maybe there was a twin still in her, and she died from an infection. Whatever it was, it happened quickly. She was eating and nursing her baby on Monday night, and dead by morning.

Now we had an orphan lamb, and no experience, and no lamb milk replacer to be had. A quick internet search said cow’s milk, cream, and an egg was a good enough substitute.

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We had an eye-dropper, and managed to get a bit of milk in her that way. Then we sent Jacob out to find something bigger–a sippy cup!

IMG_20180626_090608971We put her to bed in a box by the fireplace. Still, I didn’t expect her to make it through the second night. I usually get up at least twice at night, and I didn’t hear her. She wasn’t crying in the morning either, and I resigned myself to another dead sheep we would have to dispose of. I remember lying in bed feeling ambivalent–no more sheep to bottle feed and hand raise. No trying to figure out who was going to raise her while we spent five weeks in the US. But I would really miss her, she was so endearing. And how sad for Jacob, who doted on her!

Then I heard her little voice, and the scrabble of her tiny hooves on the side of her box! She made it! Third day of life, little brown and white Sundae!

IMG_20180626_101454966We try to put her out in the sun in the mornings, and were worried about the dogs. They chased the mama sheep once, and they killed a cat that came over the wall. The chickens, they mostly ignore. I introduced them under close supervision, figuring if the lamb didn’t run, the dogs wouldn’t chase her.

IMG_20180626_100546764Friday’s interest was fleeting, but surprisingly, Mbwa’s parental instincts kicked in strong. He’s very protective growling and snapping at Friday if she gets too close, like he did right after I took this photo. He licks and cleans her the way her mother did.

IMG_20180626_100618324He’ll creep to be near her and lay down next to her, like something out of Isiah 11.

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The wolf shall live with the lamb,
    the leopard shall lie down with the kid,
the calf and the lion and the fatling together,
    and a little child shall lead them.

 

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