Grit Blogs > The Domestication of Cattle Cait

Yesterday, I Was a Shepherdess

The Domestication of Cattle CaitYesterday, I brought forth life.

Yesterday, I was in the right place, at the right time, exactly as the universe had intended, and I assisted, and because of this coincidence, a lamb lived when he otherwise may not have.


A lovely Dorset ewe at the university research farm that I live at had been calmly lambing, doing her part beautifully as she had in years past. First one lamb, cleaned him off, got him walking, and then another. I stayed near, just in case, but she had it handled. She is a seasoned mother, experienced at her lot in life and, as far as I could see, content with it as well.

I did piddly chores, and watched, and waited for her to pass her placenta, and in a split second that I had turned around, a third lamb slid out of his mother, completely encased in his sac, and not moving. The ewe appeared to not be concerned, she was still busy cleaning her first two sheep, so I hopped into the pen and helped her out a bit.

He didn't wiggle, and I thought maybe he was gone already. Somewhere I had read, long ago, about how children born completely inside their birthing sac intact were inclined to magic, but apparently that wasn't true for this fellow. We lose some, it's part of life. I broke the sac anyways and as I wiped the mucous away from his nose, he deeply inhaled and was suddenly alive. The lamb sneezed, and sneezed again, and then stopped breathing again. I rubbed his little chest and swung him gently from his back legs (to run out any fluid that may have gotten into his lungs) until he came back, and sure enough, he did come back.

The little lamb was wet and cold, so I plopped him in the huddle with his two siblings, and his mother recognized him immediately as hers. In this moment, I remembered why I am here.


Maybe he would have lived otherwise, maybe I was unnecessary, I don't know, but nothing makes me feel alive like helping another being breathe for the first time. All the reminders of production, and efficiency, and industrialization, and the education I'm receiving at this university, mean nothing in that minute where there's nothing in the world except for myself and four sheep.