The past three weeks have been epic.
Since Pete's first cry of, "Lambs in the barn!" mid-January right up through today, it's been a wild ride.
When we took on this second flock – already bred and due in the winter – we thought we could do it.
Yes, winter lambing would be harder than spring, but we could handle it.
Even if it was our first experience.
But lambing in winter turned out to be more than we ever imagined.
More struggles, more hardship, more middle-of-the-night trips to the barn. More below-zero days, more way below-zero nights, and more interventions.
Also lots more worry.
And yes. More death.
We lost some newborn lambs due to the bitter cold and also – likely – our inexperience. Despite our hardest work and best intentions and countless trips to the barn day and night, there were lambs that didn't make it.
Having friends who farm I knew there would be losses. But knowing didn't make it any easier.
And then – in the midst of it all – our llama got sick and died as well, despite our and our vet's hard work.
Seriously. The llama.
The vet suspected that he was old and that it was simply his time, but still.
It was as though the universe was asking:
How much do you think you can handle?
Then you'll get just a little more.
And a little more.
And a little more.
I was ready to throw in the towel on 2014 all together.
But when I confided in my friend Mary what a hard winter it has been she replied, matter-of-factly in her no-nonsense Amish way, "Sounds like farming and keeping livestock to me."
What is, is.
I would try to remember.
And then on Sunday morning we went to the barn to find that our last full-term ewe had lambed.
Her two beautiful, strong babies were nursing contentedly away.
And I realized: we made it.
We made it!
Our ewes are done lambing until spring, when our original flock is due.
We actually made it.
And indeed, most of the lambs did, too.
This morning as I tromped to the barn in the cold early morning darkness to feed our two bottle lambs I noticed a change within me.
I was relaxed.
I was content.
I was free of worry for the first time in weeks.
I inhaled deeply of this relief that I had been waiting for for so long.
Chop and Jagger.
Midnight and Spot.
Blossom and Thorn.
Today I'm counting my blessings in the form of eight healthy, playful, romping lambs and their good mothers, who all seem to be telling us that yes, maybe we can do this after all.