Thursday, May 10, 2012

rough morning

A lamb just died in my arms. One of the twins, a little ram. When I called in the sheep from the back pasture 14 sheep and two lambs came running out to greet me. I looked around the black and white feet, but the third lamb was nowhere to be found. I grabbed my crook and I walked around the sheds and feeders. He was nowhere to be seen.

Then I walked out to the farthest pasture. I could see the small white clump in the grass. I ran over and found him wet, dirty, but still alive. I carried him inside the farmhouse and wrapped him in a towel, set him next to the small electric heater in my bathroom. While he warmed up I put milk on the stove to warm and got a bottle ready. He took to it and my heart soared. If he was interested in food it was a good sign. He suckled and when I took the bottle away he baaed. "That a boy!" I yelled. Then he convulsed, cried out, and went limp. His heart stopped beating next to my own. He was dead.

And now I need to go milk a goat, and get a shower, and go into the office late. I'll go into that office and spend a day inside an building pumped with heat that doesn't come from fire, light that doesn't come from sunshine, and cool air that doesn't come from wind. A place with windows that do not open. I will sit in my desk chair and start working on email marketing and spreadsheets. I'll think about the dead lamb, and listen to people talk about our job as if it was some how a part of the real world. As if anything that entertains itself beyond the gates where blood and shit, dirt and compost, sex and birth, and shaking death was real? It isn't.

Reality is out where the lambs die.


Blogger Peacemom said...

Sorry for you loss, Jenna. Farming is a true dose of reality. Blessings to your mother ewe for a healthy birth recovery. ~Vonnie

May 10, 2012 at 7:02 AM  
Blogger Tara said...

Awww, no!

May 10, 2012 at 7:10 AM  
Blogger Jamie said...

So sorry Jenna :(

May 10, 2012 at 7:17 AM  
Blogger phaedra96 said...

Oh, no! What happened?

May 10, 2012 at 7:18 AM  
Blogger Kelpie and Collie said...

Sorry Jenna, that's tough.

May 10, 2012 at 7:26 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

No office aren't real. Sad to say most folks in an office don't realize it or understand what that means. Your writing has helped reconnect me to the real world, the basic of what a real life is.

Sorry for you losing your baby lamb.

May 10, 2012 at 7:35 AM  
Blogger Caitlin-Cats Critters said...

I'm so sorry. :(

May 10, 2012 at 7:40 AM  
Blogger Trekout2 said...

Sorry Jenna... One thing for sure farming is never easy ...

May 10, 2012 at 7:43 AM  
Anonymous simplegirl said...

So sorry, Jenna. But that's what animals do ... Keep us grounded to real, simple, beautiful, and painful life.

May 10, 2012 at 7:45 AM  
Blogger Sarah Mc said...

"sorry" would be blasphemy so I will not placate you... the best news I saw... on your "roll call".. your down to 4 days a week! continue forth my soul sister!

May 10, 2012 at 8:07 AM  
Blogger Sarah Mc said...

"sorry" would be blasphemy so I will not placate you..The best news...I saw on your "roll call" your down to four days a week.. Continue forth my soul sister!

May 10, 2012 at 8:09 AM  
Blogger daisy said...

Oh Jenna. Sometimes farming is so hard. ~Healing thoughts.~

May 10, 2012 at 8:13 AM  
Blogger Kelly said...

So sad :,(

May 10, 2012 at 8:26 AM  
Blogger MIB said...

Oh, Jenna, I feel your pain. It's so hard when something like that happens. And I always want to know all the *reasons* so that I can make sure it doesn't happen again...but then I have to take a step back and remind myself that it *will* happen again, sooner or later. I have to remind myself that that's the deal I made when I decided to start raising sheep--99 times out of 100 it's joy and exhiliration, but once in awhile, it's heartbreak. HUGS

May 10, 2012 at 8:29 AM  
Blogger Karen Rickers said...

Very hard. Still, if I were a lamb, I'd rather die in a caring someone's arms than alone in a cold field. You were there for him. Poor thing.

May 10, 2012 at 8:32 AM  
Blogger Elizabeth from the Berkshires said...

Oh, my heart aches for you. And as for the artificial world of the office, boy do I know what you mean. It makes me so sad and alienated that many people truly do believe that this nonsense we do to keep the corporate machine rolling is important and real. I have the incredible privilege of having an office in one of the older buildings of my company, built at a time when windows were made to open. One of my worst fears is that I will be moved to cubicle-ville.
I loved your phrases, "building pumped with heat that doesn't come from fire, light that doesn't come from sunshine, and cool air that doesn't come from wind. A place with windows that do not open." I may have to print this post and put it on my wall next to the Barnheart essay.

May 10, 2012 at 8:34 AM  
Blogger Kris said...

Death is such a sad horrible thing. But what I just read, who or what would want to go any other way than than in the arms and next to a heart so full of love than yours? And I so agree with you on that last paragraph. Beautifully said. That's why I am where I am. Under the big blue sky and the green trees. Sheep and goats all around. Meat birds resting on the backs of lambs. So much to enjoy. That little lamb of yours had a wonderful short life there Coldantler farm.. Keep your head up, girl! More good thoughts being sent your way.

May 10, 2012 at 8:36 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Strength to you . . .carry on

May 10, 2012 at 8:41 AM  
Blogger Stephanie said...

This is real and powerful stuff you're going through but everyone's lives, no matter what they involve or where they play out, are real and powerful to them.

I am so sorry about your loss this morning.

May 10, 2012 at 8:42 AM  
Blogger Kate said...

Ugh. What a morning. Wish I could fix a hot cup of tea for you.

May 10, 2012 at 8:49 AM  
Blogger Michelle said...

Hugs and lots of sympathy, Jenna. It's awful to lose an animal. You'll be on my heart and in my prayers today.

May 10, 2012 at 8:50 AM  
Blogger greendria said...

How sad. A loss, and another loss having to leave your real world for the artificial world of the office building. What you said totally resonates with me. Sometimes I think cube-land is killing me, but the irony is that the health insurance that goes along with it provided necessary surgery to me and my daughter, and has helped my son in many ways. It's a crazy trade-off. And now I've been here five years, and these people feel like family, I have let many of them into my heart. But my crops, chickens, homestead plans - they call to me all day in this sterile environment. It's deflating. Geez, what a compromise. I often wonder if I'm choosing the right thing, for my limited time here on Earth? Or, is it even actually a choice given the things I need from my job?

May 10, 2012 at 9:03 AM  
Blogger Indio said...

That's a crappy way to start a day. Major bummer. It does help to put things in perspective and the job makes the farm life possible. You are doing a great job of expanding into new revenue generating areas so maybe soon you can call it quits, but make sure you've got a BIG nest egg before you do.

May 10, 2012 at 9:08 AM  
Blogger Moose Hollow Farm said...

So sorry for your loss, Jenna. Our 9 year old dog, Emma, died in our kitchen 3 years ago after a battle with heart problems. I was devastated but glad that she died where she was comforted by my presence with her. I patted her and held her head and told her that I loved her and she was gone. She was at home and with people who loved her ~ that's what was important. That little lamb was lucky to have you near when he passed. Take comfort that you have so many friends who care about you and your animals.

May 10, 2012 at 9:19 AM  
Blogger Ruby said...

So sad. I am glad you got to be with him at the end.

May 10, 2012 at 9:23 AM  
Blogger Jenna said...

Sorry to hear about your loss... and the fact that you have to go into the office afterwards. It's definitely difficult to live inside that dichotomy between the real world and the work world.

May 10, 2012 at 9:27 AM  
Blogger Meredith said...

Such a big lesson taught to all of us this morning from such a small little lamb. Thank you little guy.

May 10, 2012 at 9:28 AM  
Blogger Katou said...

What a sad event to start a day with...

May 10, 2012 at 9:35 AM  
Blogger Sue Steeves said...

I am so sorry for your horrible morning, losing and animal sucks. Then having to go into the office afterwards must be pure torture. I would leave my job in a second if they told me I could no longer work from home. Sending hugs your way.

May 10, 2012 at 9:36 AM  
Blogger Christine said...

Oh, I'm so sorry Jenna. Sending good thoughts your way. Just think, when you leave the office today, you'll be one day closer to the day when you don't need that job anymore.

May 10, 2012 at 9:37 AM  
Blogger Debi said...

My heart goes out to you this morning. Eventhough death is a part of farming, it never gets any easier to witness it. I'm so sorry that you had to throw yourself into your day without being able to take time to greive, the "real world" has no mercy for such things. I hope your day passes quickly, so that you can get back to the comfort of your farm and find time for some healing.

May 10, 2012 at 9:44 AM  
Anonymous cowgirl said...

You're a good farmer. And you've got it right on the reality bit.

May 10, 2012 at 9:48 AM  
Blogger kimberlesk said...

Sending hugs, Jenna. I'm sorry, that must have been so hard. I'm glad the little lamb had your warmth for his last moments here. He was lucky to have been born on your farm.

May 10, 2012 at 9:49 AM  
Blogger Pit Stop Farm said...

I completely understand how the cubicle world is soo out of touch with reality. My heart breaks everytime I walk into that cold, damp, dreary building. I find no enjoyment in the boring small talk and meaningless conversations. Currently working towards finding a work from home job and maybe someday, I'll be running a profitable CSA offering fruits, veggies, eggs, poultry, and milk. Then, I'll leave the corporate world behind completely and never look back.

Sounds like I need to come get the goat from Lynn this weekend, and stop by CAF with some cold, hard cider for you.

May 10, 2012 at 10:16 AM  
Blogger karental said...


May 10, 2012 at 10:30 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Beautifully expressed, painfully true, endured by so many. My heart is with you and the lost lamb.

May 10, 2012 at 10:36 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow, really puts things in perspective. I'm so sorry for your loss Jenna.

May 10, 2012 at 10:40 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow, really puts things in perspective. I'm so sorry for your loss Jenna.

May 10, 2012 at 10:41 AM  
Blogger Sharon Wren said...

So sorry to hear this. :-( Hopefully your coworkers will be understanding too. It's weird, the things that people get worked up about that don't really matter.

May 10, 2012 at 11:02 AM  
Blogger Michelle said...

I'm so sorry. What a rough way to start the day. Poor little guy. Will you pursue finding out what took him? (((Hugs))) Here's hoping this workday ends swiftly so that you may return to that for which your heart yearns.

May 10, 2012 at 11:33 AM  
Blogger Ngo Family Farm said...

I'm so sorry to hear about the loss of your ram lamb :( He was lucky to have you right there with him during his time of greatest need. We lost a goat here last week, and it's never easy. So sad and real, as you eloquently expressed. Wishing you a speedy work day so you can return home to your animals.

May 10, 2012 at 11:44 AM  
Blogger Rane said...

The animals are more ancient than us.
They were here for millennia before humans surfaced on the earth.
Animals are our ancient brothers and sisters.
They enjoy a seamless presence –
a lyrical unity with the earth.
Animals live outside in the wind,
in the waters, in the mountains, and in the clay.
The knowing of the earth is in them.
The Zen-like silence and thereness of the landscape
is mirrored in the silence and solitude of animals.
Animals know nothing of Freud, Jesus, Buddha,
Wall Street, the Pentagon, or the Vatican.
They live outside the politics of human intention.
Somehow they already inhabit the eternal.

-- John O'Donohue

May 10, 2012 at 12:02 PM  
Blogger Deb Naydan said...

Dear Jenna, Keeping you in my thoughts today as you grieve for your little lamb. I am so sorry for your loss. Deb

May 10, 2012 at 1:09 PM  
Blogger Rachel C said...

That's really rough. I would be devastated. And then having to go to work right away, doubly burdensome. I hope that in the quiet moments at the office today you are able to find peace.

May 10, 2012 at 1:33 PM  
Blogger Rachel C said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

May 10, 2012 at 1:34 PM  
Blogger Washington Cube said...

The way you found those babies in the depth of the night tore at my heart. Now...more tearing. There is nothing to say. As strange as it sounds, consider it a privilege to have been with him at his end.

As for the office, just remembering "all of that" makes my heart shrivel: the choking atmosphere,the pettiness and drama. I hated it.

May 10, 2012 at 2:04 PM  
Blogger RamblinHome said...

My heart goes out to you. I think I would have been done in for the day after that.

May 10, 2012 at 2:12 PM  
Blogger seagrrlz said...

Maid, sorry to hear about the lamb. That sucks.

I too know how shitty office work is. I now telecommute. Same exact job but I have a window I can open and close as I chose. I can see the sun and sky . As my "office" is on the back of my house I can hear the trees in the wind and birds singing. Never know most of the time I am in the middle of the city. So grateful to not enter the world of beige everyday.

May 10, 2012 at 2:51 PM  
Blogger Mary said...

I have so much admiration and respect for you, Jenna. I couldn't do what you do. I'd fall apart. I would love to live around animals all the time. I would love to be close to nature as you are. But i'm not strong enough. Animals die. They are slaughtered for meat to feed us. Here in the safe suburbs i can distance myself from those things. But it's not real. I know it's not...

May 10, 2012 at 2:51 PM  
Blogger Missy said...

So sorry about this. At least he had some love, care, and a good meal before he left. Maybe that's what he was waiting for. :)

May 10, 2012 at 2:52 PM  
Blogger Elizabeth said...

He was just waiting for you to find him so he could go peacefully..... all snuggled in the arms of his person.....

Hope your day ends better than it began.


May 10, 2012 at 3:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Some of the most real moments in life can also be the most difficult, my thoughts are with you. Remember to breathe and feel your feet on the earth today.

A friend of mine says that the most real moments in life leave you wet...blood, sweat, tears, mud, water, amniotic fluid, shit, etc etc...and being the gatekeepers on both ends of this wonderful life I think farmers, midwives and nurses are part of those wet moments more frequently than others.

May 10, 2012 at 4:27 PM  
Blogger seagoddess said...

gentle thoughts...

May 10, 2012 at 6:23 PM  
Blogger Carolyn said...

I raise goats and was told by a vet to be sure the body temp of a baby was above 99 degrees F. before trying to feed them. If you feed them when their body temp is low you will lose them. I have found this to be true. I don't know if this is true for sheep but wanted to pass my experience on if it would help anyone.

May 10, 2012 at 6:38 PM  
Blogger Carolyn said...

I raise goats and was told by a vet that the body temp of a baby must be above 99 degrees F. before you try to feed them. If you feed them when their body temp is too low you will lose them. I have found this to be true. I don't know if it is the same for sheep but wanted to pass my experience on in case it helped someone.

May 10, 2012 at 6:42 PM  
Blogger Elliot said...

Jenna, I'm grateful for your touching story about providing comfort and love for your little ram in his final moments. How strong you must be, to deal with the loss as you continue to do the things you have to do, including your office job. That is how I define a farmer, and you are a farmer in the truest sense.

May 10, 2012 at 6:50 PM  
Blogger pawsfurme said...

I'm so sorry.

May 10, 2012 at 8:58 PM  
Blogger Ann said...

I suppose death is an inevitable part of farming but that fact sure doesn't make it any easier to accept. So sorry for the loss.

May 11, 2012 at 12:18 AM  
Blogger Marci said...

Oh Jenna, that is the hardest part of farm life. I am so sorry.

May 11, 2012 at 1:02 PM  
Blogger ladyfarrier said...

Were you able to determine what caused the lambs death, Jenna?

May 11, 2012 at 3:05 PM  
Blogger small farm girl said...

I hate to hear about your lamb. And then have to go to work. That's why I quit. Too fake. I wanted to live in the "real" world. I will tell you this, with a calf or a goat, I'm not sure about sheep. I have to make sure the body temp is all the way back to normal before I feed it anything. It throws them into shock and will kill them. I know, I've killed a few before I knew this. I'm not saying this was the case with your lamb. I just know it can happen with cattle and goats.

May 11, 2012 at 6:02 PM  
Blogger Karen said...

I wanted to cry, but as you said, this is reality. So sorry it happened.

May 11, 2012 at 9:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just read this, from one of those offices. With a momma goat at home who had diarrhea for some unknown reason (waiting on the vet), two kids who need her milk, tow kids of my own who are hoping to have some of the momma's milk, a garden that badly needs to get in w so we will have some food to eat this winter.
I feel your pain.

May 18, 2012 at 12:40 PM  

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