HOMEGROWN Life: Mairzy Doats, A Lambing Time Theme Song
How is it the song goes? “…Dozy doats and little lambzy divey.” At Bittersweet it’s become my theme song, as it’s lambing time.
Lambs are usually associated with spring when temperatures warm and bits of green start to appear. At Bittersweet, lambs arrive when the snows are still blanketing the ground and winds are whipping up the rocky Maine coast. In the dark of night when temperatures plummet into teens and sub zero ranges, babes arrive as steaming bundles of fur taking their first breaths in a cold winter world. Bits of fluff on wobbly legs, umbilical cords dangling from their newborn bellies, eagerly poke tiny noses into folds of legs, anxious for their first sip of milk. Moms grumble their individual voices to each, reaching around with their noses to tickle the newborn’s tails, encouraging them to keep trying to find their source of nourishment. She knows success can be the difference between life and death.
Being with my flock, mostly as an observer, but also as a midwife is very rewarding for a shepherdess. Knowing when to intervene and when to stand back and let nature take its course is the biggest challenge. Encouragement for both mom and babe sometimes comes in gentle pats or a tiny nudge to reassure that “you’re doing a great job, keep going, I know you can do it!”
Instinct is a powerful force in a flock. Moms know best; I’ve learned that patience is the most important quality a shepherdess possesses. When even patience fails, or there’s not enough milk for two hungry twins, I’m blessed with bottle lambs. With them comes daily lamb cuddles, tiny hooves trailing on my heels, and lambs snuggling in my lap when their little bellies are full and they can barely keep their eyes open. In farming, success is measured in these moments.
This year, play-yard in the room next to where I sleep holds two tiny girls at night. For me, it’s selfishly easier to feed a hungry lamb at 8 pm and again at 4 am without having to go back out to the barn. Ever snuggle with a newborn lamb in your jammies? A tiny voice whispering sweet content sounds in your ear as it slumbers on your shoulder. Trust me, it’s addictive.
Ireland is where I first fell in love with lambs. I would wake up to the sound of moms and babes calling to each other in their distinctive voices. They wander freely to the edges of the rocky cliffs and back up again where they are spotted as dots high on the mountainous landscape. Now, I wake up to my own lambs frolicking with their moms just outside my bedroom window on the rocky coast of Maine.
The first thing I pick up in the morning isn’t a cup of coffee, but the lambs. I carry them to the kitchen where they dance around my feet as I prepare their first bottle. Once their tiny bellies are full, they play together while I prepare my first cup of coffee, keeping an eye out for my whereabouts. Then we make our way to the barn together to begin our day.
Some people find winters long and weary, but for me, winter is the time for cuddling lambs.
MORE FROM DYAN:
- Remembering Dollie
- Farming Roots
- Parenting Lessons from the Barnyard
- A Tiny Life, Remembered
- Dyan’s Springtime To-Dos
Dyan Redick calls herself “an accidental farmer with a purpose.” Bittersweet Heritage Farm, located on the St. George peninsula of Maine, is a certified Maine State Dairy offering cheeses made with milk from a registered Saanen goat herd, a seasonal farm stand full of wool from a Romney cross ﬂock, goat milk soap, lavender woolens, and whatever else strikes Dyan’s fancy. Her farm is also an extension of her belief that we should all gain a better understanding of our food sources, our connection to where we live, and to the animals with whom we share the earth.
PHOTOS: DYAN REDICK