Astonishingly, people are born all the time. Astonishingly because to encounter birth is to experience something which feels wholly unique.
This week, my poor Cassandra had a huge, beautiful still born tup lamb. Her puzzlement was great. However much she licked, it would not get up and walk. I contacted the shepherd, and with great kindness he gave me a little ewe lamb whose mother had had two and not taken to the first born. The huge tup lamb was skinned, and the puzzled tiny ewe lamb put into an overcoat several sizes to long. It trailed behind her like a Tim Burton bride’s train. Cassie was even more puzzled. The new lamb fulfilled the essential requirements of lambdom. It walked, it baaed and parts of it smelled OK. The trouble was that parts of it did not. And it kept trying to indecently assault her. It kept trying to get at her udder.
I jammed Cassie in a corner and the lamb suckled and all seemed fine. I kept popping out to do this. But eventually the lamb, now christened Martha, since she is plainly a relation of Lazarus, stopped playing ball. The jury is out over whether, when I am NOT there, Cassie is letting her suckle, or whether Martha was getting tired and losing the will to feed.
I imported a lamb teat and powdered lamb milk. Martha is reluctantly taking the occasional bottle and is starting to thrive, and I dearly hope she will shortly get back to assaulting her foster Mum. Meanwhile her foster Mum has fallen deeply in love with Martha, who is is plainly the cutest lamb on the planet. Her heart is full of the joy that a person is born into the world.
I hope the feeding is going to work out, because meanwhile, other hearts are filling with the same joy. My daughter (you, gentle reader, know her as Bea) has also been delivered of a fine healthy boy child, named for his two grandfathers. Of course I am full of delight and long to speed south to hold the little scrap of humanity, fruit of so much love and so much pain, if you count in all the long slow sadness his grandfather and I made between us, and the inevitable troubles of a child blossoming into what the Victorians called ‘glorious womanhood’ (and for once were probably right).
Only what a hell of a mess I have created for my poor long suffering neighbours, who will hold the fort while I go a-grandmothering. A ewe devoted to her lamb, which she will not suckle. A lamb devoted to its Mum and needing fed every two hours. A large smelly animal unit, not easily confined or transportable.
It seemed such a good idea at the time. Oh dear.