|Dewdrops and Lambchops|
by Ralph Rice
Morning dawns early, hazy and new. Spears of first light sparkle in
the early dew. The animals are grazing, taking advantage of the cool and
pleasant morning. Our draft horses munch grass while the sun warms their broad
backs. Our cattle graze steadily, trying to get their fill before flies and heat
of the day drive them to the shelter of the wood edge. Our ewes crop the dewy
grass and forbs at a fast pace, getting much of their needed water in this
manner. The succulent dew-covered plants satisfy them, just as it did their
ancestors many years ago in the barren lands of their origin.Ralph Rice's column "Reflections"
appears regularly in Rural Heritage. This column appeared in the
The lambs half-heartedly nibble at the wet grass. They are not so much
interested in the lush growth as in playing with one another. They bounce around
the field on springy legs, playing tag and butting heads. As they frolic in the
morning sunrise the little mob gets soaked from the dew.
As if on cue they get tired and hungry all at once. For just a minute
the field becomes a noisy place as the lambs all call for their mothers, and the
ewes bleat in return. In the blink of an eye all the little lambs find the right
mother and the warm breakfast she provides. The lambs nurse greedily and their
little tails wagging fiercely. We don't dock their tails, so even at weaning
when the lambs are almost as big as their mothers, rapid tail wagging signals
the consumption of lunch or dinner.
The ever-flowing rich milk and tender new grass combine to give us
well-muscled growthy lambs that provide some of the finest meat found anywhere
on earth. I think of the impending slaughter and take comfort that our lambs
know only kindness, tranquility, and contentment. They spend their days eating,
playing, and basking in the sun. They know only peace, the feeling of a full
belly, and the kind smile of a humble shepherd.
On this dewy morning I admire the stamina and genetics of the now-full
lambs racing by me. I am pleased with their rate of gain and a bit jealous of
their youthful enthusiasm. As the lambs bound across the morning field, I give
thanks for dewdrops and lambchops.