April 2023

April 2023 was a challenge for this sheep farmer. Filled with hopes and dreams, goals and desires only to have a life “earthquake” occur. On Sunday, April 9, six days before the big Dorper sheep show and sale, I received a phone call from my son. Not the happy type of phone call a mother loves to receive, this was a tragic phone call. His wife, my daughter-in-law had become upset with him, and her life and locked herself in their car with the three small children and tried to kill herself. She was in the hospital, and he needed help with the children.

Monday morning, at 6 AM, I head towards Missouri, after stopping by the grocery store I worked at to inform them I was going to have to quit, immediately. Late that afternoon, I arrived in the town my son had driven to, in order to meet and pick up three scared, tired children. Mr. A is three years old. Mr. M is two years old. Ms. L is ten months old. They had all seen me before, but small children do not remember a once visit when they were babies. I was a stranger called Granny. After a two hour rest, we decided it would be easier if I drove home during the night, when the children were sleeping. So off I went on the long journey through the night. We arrived at the sheep farm at 3:45 AM Tuesday.

Now I was not ready for three small children to live in my home without parents to watch and help keep them safe. The spare bedroom with bunkbeds was being used for storage as I am remodeling the master bedroom and bath. The crib I have is in storage. There are unsafe items and chemicals within the reach of small children. My home was not childproofed especially for a baby who crawls everywhere and puts things in their mouth. No high chair to feed a baby or safe play area for them to crawl and play. The children were plenty vocal, mostly angry or hiding away somewhere, but none verbal. They could not use words to express what they wanted or needed.

I had a lot of work to do. I had to get a room ready for two toddlers. Removing the items to a storage shed. Removing the ladder to the top bunk, both the boys were too small to sleep or be up there. Although my son had given me formula and some clothes. I had to purchase baby food, lactose free milk and snacks for the boys. Find a place to put a crib and get the bed ready for Ms. L. Buy a high chair and child fencing to create a safe play area.

I also had to clip and bath four sheep for the sheep show and sale. Get the items loaded in the livestock trailer that we would need for the show, along with feed and buckets. Make sure I had all the necessary paperwork for the sheep sale.

Then there were the regular chores and household duties that had to be performed.

I brought in help. The person who I had found to do the feeding while we were at the show, was not doing the chores three days early. His wife helped with the rooms and children, while I went to the store to purchase the children items I needed and get them set up. He put a fence around the back patio, for Mr. A and Mr. M to have a safe place to play outside.

I did not think I would get all the things done. We did. We were late in arriving at the sheep show and sale, as I missed the annual meeting and exhibitors meeting, but the sheep were there and we were there.

Friday at the show, it became very apparent that I would not be able to show. Mr. M was very angry. His parents had problems with his anger before I received them. Considering their mother’s mental state, Mr. M was struggling with many things. I was not even able to watch the showing of my sheep, as I was caring for three small children. Fortunately, we had friends at the show who were able to assist my husband with showing the sheep and selling the puppies.

There were no grands, or reserves or class placings, but we were both glad the show was done. This was not the show we had dreamed of or thought of. We were both overwhelmed, sad with the family situation and tired.

Saturday, I was not able to help with the auctioning of the sheep. Although I was able to see one sheep go through the auction, the ewe which had a lamb. She and her lamb brought a very nice price of $1,900.00 USD. A very good price considering she was a pureblood and not a fullblood. Our sheep sold above the reserve price I had placed on them.

After the sale, we and the children were ready to head for home.

The home is now childproofed. The children have settled in to the routines of a sheep farm. We get up, eat breakfast together, do chores together. They play while I clean house and do laundry. In the evenings, they help Papaw with the chores. We gather together for meals at the dinning table, eating, learning to talk and laughing together. Nighttime brings hugs, kisses and tucking in bed before rest for the coming day.

At the sheep show, I learned that when Mr. M started to have a angry tantrum, he would become quiet if I just held him snug in a hug. After a month of being on the sheep farm, he does not have the angry tantrums, or hurt himself when he is angry. Mr. M and Mr. A enjoy the sheep and the dogs. Our male livestock guardian, Bruno, has paired up with Mr. A. They walk side by side inspecting the yard area before the sheep are let out to graze.

One of the items I purchased before the sheep show was a wagon/stroller. When we do chores, Ms. L is able to accompany us. The sheep and dogs greet her, and she giggles. Chores take more time as little legs do not take Granny size steps. There is no rush or haste, as we have to wait for each other. The boys carry empty buckets back to the barn with me and Ms. L, feeling they are mighty important in the duties of the farm.

I am a mother once again, and a sheep farmer. How long will these little ones be with me? Considering the mental state of their mother, it will be years before she will be able to care for them, and maybe never.

Our plans for the future are being rewritten and redone. Our sheep farm is no longer just myself and my husband, but we are now a family of five. There will be youth shows in our future, and baseball games along with dance lessons and whatever else goes along with raising three children. But we will do and be together on the sheep farm.

Granny

4 comments

  1. I imagine the animals are part therapy for them. I’ve heard many stories of the calm that comes over children ( and adults) when they connect with animals. Your labor will not be in vain…God sees you daily and will always be with you.

    Liked by 1 person

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