Lambing Season at the Abbey

‘Live stock means dead stock’ as the old farming saying goes.

A Kerry Shepherd once said with a sigh ‘Asha, a Shepherd’s lot is about life and death. That’s the way of it’

This year we lost a ewe and so gained two delightful ram orphans, meaning more work with bottle feeding, but there are enough of us to enjoy the task. Lambs apparently are born hungry and thats how it goes! They are gorgeous and how they know it.

Lambing started on 22nd February. As ever, it wasn’t straightforward. Thank -fully our horse tenants’ vet was here and came to our rescue. The first lamb was born while we were not there and then things began to look bad for the ewe. The vet then delivered two more lambs, gave the ewe medicine but thought she had only 50/50 chance of survival and doubted if all the triplets would survive. Two did and we watched and prayed. The ewe refused food for days but did recover and is fine now.

We have kind horse tenants, Mandy, Jess and Albert, who keep an eye out and lend a hand. Dave our farmer friend is a real God- send and came out to help one afternoon for a difficult triplet delivery. He is always happy to give advice on the phone when a visit is not essential, which is a great help for us.

Steve, from the village has been coming daily to feed the ewes and we even email Sr Patricia’s niece, who is a vet in Northern Ireland, for advice. Sr Pat looks down from above! When lambing had just began our Oblate Maud Felicity came to help look after the flock and the sisters for a long weekend and was with us when Ida had her twins. We named the Maud and Felicity. Felicity is so cute and lives up to her name.
The other 6 ewes lambed fairly easily with only one, Millie, needing some help! Sr Mildred’s nursing hands were invaluable that morning. Millie was a first timer and gave birth to one large lamb during Sunday Mass!

Our little friend Aislin feeding the lambs.

Although we have a very small flock, they take up time and energy and now it is lovely to see them in the field during a relaxing walk. The lambs skip and play while the mothers call. It is delightful to watch nature and to give thanks to God for His creation. Local children and guests delight in the joy they give.
On a sombre note, something struck me during this year’s lambing. It was the situation in Ukraine. I used to get up in the night to check the pregnant ewes and the new baby lambs. I would reflect, in that cold and smelly barn on the situation in Ukraine where people have less shelter than these creatures. Babies were being born, to mothers and fathers struggling to care for them and keep them safe. These farm animals are better off than some poor people in the world. I thought also of the migrants in desperate conditions, only a short drive from the Abbey. It is impossible to make any sense of the suffering in our world except in the light of the death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ.

I hope by the time our lambs are ready for what they were born for, we will be able to share our food, here, with a Ukrainian family. We are waiting to welcome one. Please God it will happen soon.
The Lord is OUR Shepherd and we Rejoice!