This sheep is a natural born killer …

2012-03-24 13.29.29Lambing time (or so it seems) lurches from being one thing to the other.

It’s either blindingly good or the pits.

Some days it makes you feel great.

Other days things happen that could almost break your heart!

But this week we’ve had something happening that for undisclosed reasons feels really disturbing and weird.

(Now, don’t panic, it’s nothing too gory!)

Slightly disturbing and weird

Caleb’s bottle-fed lamb from two years ago had a lovely little male lamb … and HATED it. She utterly loathed the sight of it, and was doing all she could to destroy it. (Quite violent).

Of course, you do sometimes get this with first lambers … it spaces them out to have brought forth this mess which then seems determined to eat them, or swallow them, or (rather) particularly personal parts of them.

Suckling isn’t always intuitive!

ImageOn the other hand, colostrum (or first milk) is desperately important and if the lamb doesn’t get enough of it fast enough, then the lamb’s life isgoing to be lost. It sounds hard, but if all other efforts fail, the ewe’s head must be held in the adopter so that the lamb can get on and suck freely.

It normally takes about a day and a half. The ewe gets all sorts of special feeding and attention. Within 48 hours she has realised this isn’t going to kill her, the lamb starts to smell like her, and her reluctance to mother it fades.

Not this week. Not this ewe. This sheep is a natural born killer!

This sheep is a natural born killer

I  have to admit, it’s quite shocking. It’s un-natural. It’s really disturbing to see. Every day the ewe gets let out of ‘the stocks’ for time spent at liberty in her pen with cleear sight of her lamb (moved for safety) through the hurdle in the pen right next door. Every day when the lamb is put back in loose with her she takes just seconds to start trying to annihilate it. So we grab her, and put her back in the adopter. You’d have thought she would have learnt better by now, even though her own instinct’s so faulty. But – no.

Now, we see all sorts of stuff that’s not nice in the course of a normal farming year. Normally you can step in and fix things. And normally it’s all ‘natural’ stuff anyway. But this experience has been profoundly disturbing.

A word from the eighth century BC

In the eighth century BC Isaiah picked up on this sort of trauma, although he put it in a purely human context (Isaiah 49) to help some people going through some pretty hard experiences. They’d started to think that their hard life-experiences meant that God had forgotten them:

” … Zion ({God’s people} said, “The Lord has forsaken me,
the Lord has forgotten me.”

15 “Can a mother forget the baby at her breast
and have no compassion on the child she has borne?
Though she may forget,
I will not forget you!
16 See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands;
your walls are ever before me.”

When life gets tough for us the temptation is there to assume it’s because God’s taken against us.

For Isaiah’s congregation things had developed that way, but the pledge of God’s love stands against the idea.

Love and unerring committment

ImageIn our day and age love is not always linked to committment. In God’s vocabulary, it always, unerringly is.

God’s unchanging promise of loving committment to His covenant-loved people comes over clearly in the words of William Cowper’s old hymn:


Can a woman’s tender care
Cease towards the child she bear?
Yes, she may forgetful be,
Yet will I remember thee.

As the Book of Proverbs would put it:

“The name of the Lord is a fortified tower;
    the righteous run to it and are safe.”

All the more reason to stay committed to Him, then, especially when our own life experience is particularly disturbing and weird?


About welshrev

Simon is a church planting pastor and Rural Chaplain based at Grace Church Llandeilo and serving the Heart of Wales. He has a Facebook page as Rev Simon Bowkett and the Grace Church website has lots of information and resources at Facebook page is 'Grace Christian Community Llandeilo' ... you would be welcome to drop by there for a chat!
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