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Lily the Lamb

Lily the Lamb

I grew up on a farm with a herd of milk cows, horses for the field work, a Shorthorn cow and calf that were bought with my own money and lots of pigs raised for our own food and for market. We never had any sheep, so I wanted a lamb for a pet and a 4-H Club project.

After I promised to take care of the lamb, dad took me to Oitker’s farm early in the spring to buy one. I picked out a one-week old Hampshire lamb that was one of triplets. Purchased animals were usually named after the farmer or his wife, so my lamb was immediately named Lily after Lillian Oitker.

I made Lily a pen inside one end of the old shingle shed in the back yard. There was a fence around the entire back yard with a gate at the corner of the house. She had the back yard to graze during the day and a protected pen out of the weather the rest of the time. What more could a lamb want?

Lily was fed warm milk from a bottle when she was small. Unfortunately, I never weaned her off that bottle so she demanded to be hand fed for the rest of her life. She claimed me as her momma, and would follow me around like a dog. You needed to stand behind the gate when you called her or risk being bowled over, thanks to her running start across the yard.

Lily would eat almost anything green. One slightly annoying habit was that she preferred eating mom’s bushes and flowers to grazing on grass. She especially liked the rose bushes and forsythia. She would stand upright on two feet to be able to reach bushes more than four feet high. Every bush around the edge of the yard was neatly trimmed to Lily’s high water mark.

At the end of the summer, I took Lily, along with some pigs, to the annual 4-H fair in Pleasant Hill. My brother, Merritt, and I came away with a fist full of blue and purple ribbons for the pigs we had carefully fed and groomed all summer. Lily got a lot of attention around the livestock tents as she followed me around without any leash or halter. But alas, Lily got only a white ribbon, which showed that she was judged only fourth out of four animals in the ring of her class of lambs.

I was a bit disappointed for Lily, but decided that she was probably a better pet than a show animal. As for Lily, she didn’t appear to care much and thought her white ribbon was delicious.