I am not a religious person, but I still believe in miracles. Every spring, when the  first peas push up through the ground, I am awed and grateful. We had a small miracle on our farm Christmas eve. We returned from doing the neighborhood rounds with plates of cookies and packages of bread (by the way, returning with more than we had given), and found an apparently dead, or almost dead, black and white newborn lamb in the pasture. It was cold and completely limp.

We carried the lamb, with the mother ewe following, into the heated shop. Sitting next to the woodstove, Bill, Pierre and I took turns rubbing and cuddling the near-lifeless and very tiny lamb. It was still breathing. After raising animals for 40 years, I’ve learned to take pleasure in new life, and to accept death. I’m wary about getting too attached.

After an hour, the newborn hadn’t opened its eyes and remained limp in our arms.

Then, an almost imperceptible attempt to move its neck.

“Did you lift its head up?”

“No, it did it on its own.”

We looked at each other–a drop of hope. The odds, which previously had been about one in a hundred against survival, were now up to two in a hundred. Not great, but something. On the other hand, we weren’t willing to start thinking up names.

About ten minutes later, an eye opened. Then, it moved its hindquarters. Another eye opened. But its neck and head remained limp. We kept up the stimulation, we milked the mother and dribbled a bit of colostrum into the lamb’s mouth. It swallowed.

Over the next two hours, the lamb raised its head, managed to get halfway up on its front legs, let out the tiniest bleat we’d ever heard, and–oh yes, miracle–stood on all four legs and wobbled its way around the shop. We laughed. We picked it up and held it. We fed it colostrum and milk replacer.

Mama and baby spent the night in the shop. Bill got up at 2:00 am to feed it, I was up at 5:30. Mama is not much interested in her baby, but we’ll see.

In the meantime, we’re discussing names. We don’t name all of our animals…but there are exceptions.

Pierre likes Lazarus. Bill likes Noel.

This morning, I’m favoring Sweet Pea.

I wish you a Merry Christmas, a Happy Hannukah, a Shining Solstice…a joyous day no matter what your religion. If you follow no religion, celebrate with me in the miracle of life in this beautiful world.

Check out Brian Mann’s Christmas Day entry at the In Box. Oh, and I promise a photo of Sweet Pea (or Lazarus or Noel) in my next entry (camera problems today).

Peace on earth.

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5 Comments on “Sometimes…miracles”

  1. Two Cents says:

    Merry x-mas, thanks for a wonderful story.
    I’m liking Lazarus as a name, i know what you mean by not everyone gets a name on the farm, but this one sounds like a keeper.

  2. trek says:

    Hope comes to us in many different ways!

  3. BRFVolpe says:

    Blessings, miracles, and merry Christmas, Ellen!

  4. stillin says:

    I just loved seeing the pictures and reading the story, thank you Ellen. As a huge animal lover, I like Sweet pea, but I have to tell you about “tiddlywink”… We have a collie pup, the runt, named “ollie”…but I call him collie budz, foxy moxy, ollie all and everything else that comes to mind, at times. Our breeder just had another runt, from a litter, and calls him tiddlywink, which we all like too. I also met a baby donkey this summer named Odie which I like too.

  5. Barbara glaser says:

    Nice piece Ellen

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