I haven’t blogged one of my random childhood memories for awhile, but this afternoon as I watched a flock of sheep with many new baby lambs frolicking in a pasture near my house, I visited a vivid memory of raising sheep in Hinckley and a lambing season many years ago.
We didn’t have many sheep at any given time when I was young. Our little flock would grow and then Dad would sell off some or haul a few into Terrell’s meat packing plant in Delta.
Every spring we would have several new baby lambs born to our little flock. One year one of the ewes died giving birth to an especially large lamb. I was doing chores when I saw Stomps lying on the ground laboring hard. I sat down near her head and waited. I was there at the birth; I ran and got my mother from the house when things didn’t seem to be going well. I was the one my mother sent running for Mr. Hardy, a farmer who lived down the road, and I was the one he sent running for a list of supplies (which included Lysol cleaning solution to wash off the ewe’s uterus which was on the outside of her body covered in dirt, grass and blood). It was all very baffling and tragic for a 10-year-old who loved her wooly charges, who knew their individual personalities, and took care of their every need.
We had to bottle feed the little orphaned baby. We bought powdered milk at the IFA in Delta along with some reddish-pink rubber nipples. I will never forget the smell of that dusty milk powder mixed with warm water. We used a funnel to pour the milk into two large glass pop bottles then we’d snap on the nipples and head down to the corral. Little Cecil would slurp and slop the milk and make us laugh as he would butt and push at us trying to get the milk to flow faster. Cecil was a beautiful baby with snowy white wool, spindly legs, and shiny little hooves. He had a sweet personality and I loved being his surrogate mother watching him discover the world around him.
Somehow over the next year Cecil grew from an adorable lamb into a ram with horns. He wasn’t sweet or cute anymore. We started calling that monstrous woolly creature Cecil the Diesel. He was territorial and would chase and butt animals who came close to him—other sheep, cows, dogs, chickens and us. Twice a day we had to go into the pasture to get to one of chicken coops and refill the water troughs. We would lure him to the fence with some hay and use bailing wire to tie him up while we did our chores inside the fence in constant fear he would break free and come after us with those horns. I believe that is where the saying “you shouldn’t butt the hand who feeds you” came from.
Watching those little babies cavorting in the grass today brought back all those ‘sheepy’ memories of many years ago…isn’t it funny how you can be transported back in time by a memory?