Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Farm Life: Spring Tinged with Hope, Sadness

I don't know about you, but in spring my social media feeds are full of babies…tiny goats scampering after their mothers, calves with melting brown eyes, lambs a mere few minutes old wobbling to their feet. For farmers it means long nights with no sleep, searching in the dark for mothers that may have strayed to an isolated corner of a field to give birth and bottle-feeding any babies rejected by their mothers, at the same time as rejoicing at the new life they bring to the farm. The following is by Kate McLean of Longest Acres Farm in central Vermont, whose Instagram post (top photo) stopped me in my tracks with its heartbreaking clarity and simultaneous sense of anguish and hope. Farmers like this who care so deeply for their animals are why I love what I do.

I lost my favorite ewe Saturday morning. Just cold and dead with no hint of explanation. She left two little daughters; Fiona and Fanny. I wished I had known she would die that night.

I wished I had been able to thank her for her six years of service to the farm. For her eight lambs. But more, I’m grateful I didn’t find her dying. I know that’s spineless. But I hate finding dying animals. Then the farmer is always torn in calculation: What can I do? What could a vet do? What would a vet cost? How much is this animal worth in $? How much is this animal worth to my heart? Can the farm shoulder this expense? It’s an abjectly shitty calculation and I hate making it.

So I’m always grateful when the animal spares me the anguish (again, I know, spineless). I’m always grateful when an animal is allowed the dignity of a quiet death in the middle of the night without the indignation of my intrusion, of my calculations. We had a funeral pyre for her that afternoon (as there ain’t much burying in frozen April ground such as this). We will honor her memory by taking damn good care of the lambs she left us, who are now bleating for their next bottle, so I must be off.

Posted with permission from Longest Acres Farm.

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