A personal perpsective of life in our Virginia vineyard... Christine Wells Vrooman



An Atypical Spring Eve

Just before dark this evening, Arnold called from the sheep pasture to let us know we have a new addition to the farm.  Two in fact!  Our first set of lambs are here!  They were born in the pasture near the creek, away from the rest of the flock.  Dennis, Nathan and I hopped into the car and drove down the mountain to catch a glimpse of the babies before it got any darker. 
As we got to the bottom we could see Arnold standing over a white mound next to the pond. I stopped the car and ran toward him. It was our dear dog, Dan, lying as a cold, wet heap of fur... our loyal, grand ten year old guard dog who has been protecting our sheep for years. Arnold was rubbing him. This poor old dog had walked into the pond sometime today and was too old, arthritic or weak to get himself out and he had been submerged up to his neck in the cold, springfed water for who knows how long.  Arnold had managed to pull him from the water onto the bank of the pond.  Dan was trembling, couldn't move, his massive, thick coat of fur soaking wet with the frigid water.  Dennis instantly went into veterinarian mode and checked the color of his gums, felt his chest to detect the beat of his heart. Dan's gums were a whitish blue.  Not good.  I ran for a blanket from the back of the car and wrapped it around him, rubbing his body, encouraging him that everything will be OK.  I kept rubbing him, trying to infuse some sense of comfort along with the physiological addition of heat.  I looked up.  The evening was near balmy, the first warm evening of the season, which probably helped to save Dan's life. The peepers, those wonderful harbingers of spring, were singing their sprintime chorus behind me, from the marshy end of the pond.  It would have been a perfect evening.  Oh please let my Danny Boy get through this.  He has been my guard dog as well.  A few years back I fell and injured my knee badly. I couldn't get up.  Within minutes Dan was at my side.  He scanned me with his nose, stopped at my knee, then put his front legs on one side of me and stood guard.  I will never forget wrapping my arms around this beautiful protector while I lie on the ground looking up at a deep blue sky that framed his majestic lion-like mane of fur.  Oh, my dear, dear Dan.
Nathan and Arnold lifted him into the back of the Pathfinder and we wrapped a second blanket around him, turned up the heat and he responded by holding his head up.  The color in his gums was returning. Other than not being able to use his right, front foot, he seemed he would recover from this near fatal hypothermia.  Dennis will take him back to Virginia Beach to our animal hospital and give him a good working over.

And oh yes... those baby lambs!  We then drove up to the sheep pasture with Dan warming nicely in the back of the car, heat turned up to 85.  In the back corner of the pasture, next to the babbling creek, in a beautifully tranquil spot, stood a Mama ewe and her newborn twins.  She was cleaning them, they were trying to stand on their feet, their scrawny legs wobbling.  They immediately try to nurse.  This innate awareness always is a marvel to me.  How do they know where to find their food?  Are there wired synapses in their brains that direct them to lift their heads and nudge the warm body above them?  I see the functioning of the natural world as amazingly eloquent and intelligent.  To observe first hand the creation of new life, I am always infused with awe.

Next:  We are within hours of pruning our last vine.  And with that last vine we pop some bubbly... our end of pruning tradition!! Right there in the vineyard... no matter what hour of the day!  It is that much worth celebrating!

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