Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Ruthie & Cybil

Today Ruthie died. She had been trying to die for a few weeks and yesterday she had to be propped up several times. She ate some grain and didn’t seem to be in any pain. She was of undetermined age and breed and was a singularly unattractive Ewe with one horn and she knew how to use it! But she gave birth to the most beautiful babies (Stormy Wether, Babe Ruth and Gemma) and was the best mom. Her latest baby, Gemma, was a black curly girl with a white tornado on her head.

Ruthie did not like to be sheared (that’s when that horn came in handy) but loved treats and in her last year was saved the indignity of being herded by the Border collies. When the ewes were being moved she was personally escorted to the next pasture and only after she was settled in were the other sheep moved. There was a dignity in the old girl. She walked slowly in the last months of her life but always carried herself with pride despite her felted wool and her ancient horn.

Ruthie had been a “farm warming" gift three years ago when DreamCatcher Farm first began and gave us a lamb each year. Ruthie’s life and death went the way a sheep’s life should go. She grazed in plentiful pastures had lots of friends and received the most humane treatment we knew how to offer her. When she had her last baby she thoughtfully gave birth right outside of the pen we had prepared for the pregnant ewes and in her death she laid down in the sun near the other ewes.

Additionally we lost our beloved Cybil.  What a personality that girl had.  We called her the Southern Belle because whenever the Border collies came out, Miss Cybil had a case of the vapors and simply couldn't be bothered by the dogs.  She did have some spunk though.  I"ll never forget seeing her running with the lambs last spring, kicking up her heels and acting like a spring chicken. 

Cybil also left us some beautiful lambs.  Her first was Aristotle, the very first lamb born at DreamCatcher Farm.  He lives up to his name and has one of the most beautiful fleeces out there.  Her second year, she gave us Eve and Lucy.  As some will remember, Eve was a bottle baby.  She had climbed out of the jug the night she was born and Cyb refused to take her back.  So we raised Miss Eve and this year will be her and Lucy's first year to breed.  How excited we are to see their lambs!  This last lambing, Cybil gave us Flo and Alice, again bottles needed.  Cybil didn't drop her milk for 2 weeks and developed mastitis.  I had intended to retire her this year and let her live her life as a pampered Southern Belle but she was taken from us too soon.  We'll definitely miss that old girl. 

It is a cliché that death is part of life. But all I know is that when I die I hope I will have come close to fulfilling my purposes in life and can let go with the grace and dignity of Ruthie and Cybil.

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