Monday, May 6, 2013

Mother's Day Redux

Last year I wrote about lambs in my Mother's Day message.  This year, again, we helped our friend with her sheep.  She had 122 lambs who needed attention.  I cannot tell about it better than I did last year.  This year, I punched the ear tags. Here is what I wrote last year.

Perhaps one of your friends will ask for your help with baby lambs.  At about two weeks of age, they need a shot of selenium and an ear tag.  Their long tails need to be docked and the boys, well, the boys need to be castrated.  These procedures require separating the lambs from their mothers (briefly).  You will be assigned a job.  Catching the lambs requires good hand-eye coordination and the ability to hold a squirming baby with four hooves.  (The boys are easier to catch than the girls, who are wily and fast.) Holding the lamb for the procedures requires strength, patience, knowledge of several "holds" to steady the necessary lamb-parts, and the ability to hold a squirming baby with four hooves.  Applying the ear tag requires experience with gripping a tool such as a hole-punch and squeezing steadily while the squirming baby tries to pull ear from pinching object.  Injecting the selenium requires good enough eyesight to see the millimeter markings on the syringe in bright sunlight while the squirming baby tries to pull away - period.  Docking the tails requires experience gripping a tool against the pressure of an expanding rubber ring with a steady hand while the squirming baby becomes frantic.  Castration is like tail docking, except you need to be able to count to two.  The entire undertaking is not for sissies.  The lambs complain bitterly.  The boys, especially, lie on the grass and make pitiful noises.  The mothers are inconsolable.  Behind the fence, they pace wildly bawling for their babies.  When the gate is opened the reunion is spectacular.  Mothers running to and fro.  Babies forgetting their indignities as they listen for just the right baaaa.  And then quiet.  Just the muted sound of rich mothers' milk going down.

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