I woke up in the middle of the night last night. We're still lambing, and have some goats we're concerned about, so I slipped out of bed, put on my jacket, grabbed the headlamp, and walked out to the barn. There was a chill in the air. I pulled my jacket tight around me. A cat stirred from the pile of cats and dogs on the porch and glanced my way through bleary eyes. In a moment, the pile came to life as cats lazily stood, stretched, and yawned. The dog laid motionless, sleeping peacefully after a full night chasing coyotes away.
I walked on toward the barn. The darkness enveloped me as I stepped off the porch and away from the lights at the house. It was quiet. I could hear only my own breathing and the crunch of my boots on the frosty ground. The barnyard is usually so full of activity, lambs and ewes looking for each other, doelings jumping and head-butting, everyone looking for corn. But last night there was one lone woolie, lying next to the fence, to greet me when I entered.
I walked on toward the barn. The sweet smell of hay met me as I walked through the open door. Some animals stirred. The sheep are not used to us yet, so they run when we get too close. Several of them sprang to their feet and ran out toward the pasture. I looked quickly to see if any were showing signs of labor. Then I looked past them to see if there were any ewes down in the pasture on the other side of the barn. Everyone was on her feet. I breathed easier. There would be no babies in the house this night.
On the far side of the barn, the goats were piled up together in a corner. The two or three on the outer edge looked up, but the others continued sleeping. I walked closer to look at them. The one we're most concerned about was in the middle of the pile, completely surrounded by the others. I watched her breathing, soft gentle rises of the area just past her rib cage. She was safe for the night.
I turned to walk back to the house and stepped past the hay feeder. I looked down to see two woolie lambs cuddled together sound asleep in the safest place in the barn. I smiled at their cleverness.
I made my way back to the house. The dog was still asleep but the cats had scattered. I walked through the door, took off my jacket and laid it down. I turned out the lights and went back to the bedroom, walking softly and quietly to keep from waking anyone. I got to the bed and laid down. I closed my eyes, holding in my mind the beautiful sight of the animals safe and warm, sleeping peacefully in the middle of the night. And, soon, I too, was sound asleep again.