March 17, 2010

Pets vs Farm Animals

There is a big difference between a pet and a farm animal. You respect a farm animal, treat it with kindness, care for it and even like it. You do the same for a pet, but you also love your pet. (Not to mention, you eat farm animals and not pets - I hope not anyway.)

This line between farm animal and pet has been clear for me - until Norman Jr was born.

It was the last weekend of May (2009) and Daisy was ready to pop. She was the last pregnant ewe. We already had 4 other lambs born earlier that spring. It was a warm day, with no forcasted cool weather, so we didn't put Daisy in the barn to birth like we did with the other ewes. She started to give birth on Saturday. We watched her struggle for a while and then decided to intervene. At this point, the lamb's head and front hooves where showing.

My only experience with birth was when I had Jordan. So apparently that gave me the creds to be 'the vet'. However, being on the recieving end instead of the providing end is very, very different.

Daisy did let me get close - I think she knew she needed help. With Jeremy and Jordan watching, I grabbed a hold of the lambs front hooves and pulled.

I'm not going to describe all the 'stuff' that came out with the lamb, but it was warm, wet, sticky and covered my arms up to the elbow. But the lamb was out. Daisy cleaned the little lamb and it started breathing, baaaing and got up all alone. (After this, I'm sure we won't ever have to explain "where babies come from" to Jordan.)

The problem was that Daisy wouldn't let the lamb nurse. Every time the lamb got close, she would spin around. We decided to move them into a smaller, enclosed section under the pole barn and let them alone for a few hours. (While moving the lamb we figured out it was a he.) When we came back down two hours later; not only wasn't she letting nurse, she was also headbutting him when he got impatient.

Jeremy suggested we try to help him nurse by holding Daisy still and assisting him latch on. It did work. He nursed for a bit, which made his little tale wag. But it didn't calm Daisy down at all. After we let her go, she would still spin around and headbut him. The next decision was a big one - to bottle feed him for the next 3 months - 4 times a day for the next 3 months. Since he was staying, we named him Norman Jr. (Norman was the name of his dad.)

For the first couple of days, Norman lived in Jordan's old play pen (picture) and I bottle fed him. This is how I became his mom.

Almost a year later, he still baaaa's when he sees me. He comes running and wants 'nose kisses' from all of us. We can also let him out of the pasture and he will follow us around the yard like a dog; a dog that nibbles on all the landscaping. He is a runt and is much smaller than the females born that spring.

The dilema is that all the farm animals are here either to breed or eat. We can't breed Norman Jr. - he is related to half the ewes, same dad. And there is no way I can eat him! He is my little Norman Jr who gives nose kisses!

Farm animal or pet? Jordan and I say pet. Not sure Jeremy agrees. We'll see.

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