In my philosophy God and Mother Nature are mostly the same thing — she who knows best in the long run. But… Meet Gladstone!
Born yesterday lunchtime and not quite right, the second and much smaller of twins — popped out as an after-thought and lay on the grass ignored (Nature knew). Then ensued much running about, building of pens, pressing of the ewe (that knew too), and the spiflication of an elderly gentleman who held the ewe (who knew) while the elderly lady (who also knew) but tried to milk the ewe (who knew). The lamb (who was not quite right) was held to the teat and made slurpy noises but nothing came and so they rummaged in cupboards and under beds and assembled the milk-bar.
Meanwhile the lamb got weaker and weaker and visiting farmers (who knew of course) shook their heads and advised euthanasia (only that wasn’t quite how they put it). ‘Call her Gladstone’, said one amongst other helpful remarks.
‘I know she’s not quite right — she’s got underbite, and no cartilage in her ears and her back is twisted like the toy lamb Alison had when she was little, whose wire frame got bent by too much cuddling — do you think she’ll unbend with time — some babies have funny shaped heads but they come right, or get hair so no one notices…’
Gladstone took to the bottle like a professional and, God bless the ewe who knew — she is amenable, when the spiflicated gent stops holding her she stands and watches me feed the lamb then, bemused, she cleans up the smelly, milky mess I have made of her and takes her off with her other lamb for a rest.
Last night I slept badly wrestling with a moral dilemma of the lamb who will not do — my head rang with advice. Farmers say ‘the first loss is the easiest’. An old boss of mine used to say ‘we must not strive officiously’, when he meant ‘it’s time for this poor little bugger to meet her maker’
I woke up decisive — no more feeding — it’s up to the Shepherd in the Sky.
The lamb didn’t seem to be breathing — it had been a cold night, I tiptoed to take her body from the pen without the ewe knowing, a little tufty ear twitched, a small black eye opened. The crooked lamb jumped up and ran to meet me baaing for breakfast (still a bit wobbly).
I went indoors to think about it while I made her breakfast.
Death is always the same but who knows how life will turn out — that’s the trouble with euthanasia.