Saturday, January 22, 2011

Birth Called

The full moon delivered the gift of twin lambs during the evening chores. Most nights, we don’t have much planned, but this night included a chauffeuring of one child home from Portland and an important Land Trust board meeting that we both needed to attend about our long term lease. It was timed just the way it should be, to slow us down and remind us that when the universe is shifting a little with the change of energy that surrounds birth, we have no control. On this here blog format, we often tell you of the joy, the controversy, and the bounty. We sometimes share the trials of weather patterns unfavorable for growing crops. This summer, we went out into un-chartered waters to tell you about the fate of the broiler chickens who live at Broadturn Farm. Raising livestock is seeing the circle of life to its fullest. As I sit here composing this note to you, trying to find the path to the story, I’m realizing I may have an obsession with getting as close to this circle as you can. Many full moons I spent on the edge of a laboring (human) mother’s bed, being with her and her family as we waited for their new babe to be born. The nights I spent working as a midwife are treasured memories. But alas, a mama ewe is not a mama human and I don’t currently have  plans to  try hospice nursing next. Mama ewe had a hard birth, malpresentation and meconium (yucky baby poop) both complicating things. She is in a state of shock post-partum. We lost one lamb pretty quickly the first night. The second lamb is in what constitutes an neonatal incubator on a farm...a cardboard box from with straw on the bottom, located in our living room next to the woodstove. The cats are uncertain about this fellow bahhing away in their sanctuary. The littlest human is charmed by it, singing all songs lamb and playing music for him on her harmonica. The rest of us, well, modestly stressed by the whole event would be realistic. We’ve never had any birth complication with our ewes. They have been strong mothers and always have twins. This ewe is in her third year of breeding. 
In a house where we have kids who ask when the bible will start to be called the Christian Book of Mythology, our leanings are towards Quakerism and I was raised in a very secular, Jewish home. We find meaning in our work, our love and our community. While we come to spirituality with ease, we feel shy of religion, especially after hearing Nixon was a Quaker. When our world is shifting subtly and our eyes are aware of the process and when our brains understand the science behind it, we come close and take to heart the beauty of all that life is. What does this translate into? Well, a cancelled trip to visit family and beloved cousins in Philadelphia, a rescheduled reconnaissance mission to visit a few farm businesses for inspiration along the way and a compromised smell in our living room, a conversation about what to do with a dead lamb in the frozen tundra that is a Maine winter and possibly, what to do with mama ewe if she doesn’t pull though.  In addition, its all a reminder of my midwifery days, when I would stand vigil on my nights on call waiting for a mother who needed loving hands and set everything aside when birth called.

Holding Mama ewe and her babe in the light.



  1. Sounds like quite a weekend! I am so sorry that things went so awry. Hopefully the little lamb will pull through, and the mother too.
    I know they are in good hands!
    Hugs to all of you...and the ewe.

    Sandy katz

  2. Thanks for you post Stacy....sending you all peace and warming thoughts to human animal alike