Spinners and Weavers of Indiana Fiber and Textiles
From Kate Phillips.
This is a picture of Agnes, a Clun Forest lamb.
On June 2, 2013, Brigitte Guffey of Hodgkinsville, Kentucky called me. She was frantic. “Kate, what should I do? I have a lamb running back and forth from ewe to ewe and no one will let her nurse or even let her near them.”
“How long has she been looking for her mother?” I inquired.
“Two hours. I don’t know what to do. I can’t do this (which I knew she meant raise a bottle lamb)” she wailed.
“It’s okay” I assured her. “I’ll send Mike down with some colostrum and that should give you some time to figure out what to do. If you want, I can have Mike bring a dog box down and I will bottle raise her for you” I said calmly, not knowing that my summer was about to take on an unusual twist.
When Mike got to Kentucky almost 3 hours later, the lamb was still running around plaintively wailing because she was hungry and ‘nobody loved her.’ Brigitte warmed the colostrum and Mike fed the lamb. Feeding seemed to calm her down so she was put back with the ewes. Immediately, the lamb became frantic again. Mike and Brigitte left her alone for a while, carefully checking to see if anything had changed. After 45 minutes passed they returned to a near hysterical lamb and removed her from the pasture.
After an interchange of thoughts, Mike and Brigitte determined that the lamb should come to Indiana where I would raise her. Instead of riding home in a dog box, the tiny, vocal, black lamb rode home in the cab of the truck where Mike talked to her and petted her the entire journey home to Hartsville, Indiana.
She was tiny and thin. So I set up a dog kennel in the living room and lined it with towels and placed a heating pad beneath the towels and turned it on low. Within minutes of seeing her, the name Agnes came to mind. Thus Agnes she was dubbed.
Agnes was a hungry lamb that needed a lot of attention. She got to sit in laps in the recliner and snooze while we were watching TV. The first week, Agnes mostly slept and ate. She was introduced to the dogs, Michaela – the Corgi, and Buster -the Australian Shepherd x Border Collie and all was well with Agnes.
At the beginning of the second week, Agnes was moved to the yard where I could quickly feed her without trips to the barn every 4 hours. I’m not sure when or how it happened, but about the third day I noticed that Agnes and Michaela were sharing the large sofa cushion-sized pillow under the porch. The porch provided shade and shelter from rain. Agnes had already learned that the advantage to residency under the porch allowed her to hear the click of the door lock which signaled a human exiting the house and a potential meal on its way.
Agnes’s interaction with humans involved following to the mail box, accompanying me to the barn at milking time, and sitting in the porch swing. At the same time, her friendship with Michaela exempted her from being herded and allowed Agnes a dog-like perspective of the world. For instance, Agnes learned about barking, I mean baa-ing at bicyclists on the road. She learned how to leap into the porch swing to sleep on a hot summer day. Agnes even learned that when humans return home and have their arms full, it is a good time to race into the house, at which time she jumps into the recliner and stands there facing the TV waiting for it to be turned on.
Agnes is soon to turn 3 months old. She weighs almost 50 pounds and still believes she is a yard dog. She now scratches on the door to be let in (which she learned from my Mini Schnauzer, Duchess) and bawls at the door when she is hungry. I tried to integrate her with the triplet Angora kids in hopes to change Agnes’s mindset, but she stood at the gate for three days bleating her unhappiness. She still goes to the mailbox each day after the mail man comes accompanied by a human. Agnes is definitely an integral part of my farm family now. How I will deal with her as a ewe could be an entirely different story.