The boys sit at the kitchen counter finishing their breakfast. Outside, the snow gently falls, joining an already white winter-landscape. I begin pulling out the barn clothes: it’s time to pile on the layers and head outside.
We open the outside door to be greeted by a crisp morning breeze. It’s one of those days where the cool air takes your breath away. It takes longer than normal to trudge through the snowdrifts to make it to the barn. Cries of, “Mama, I’m cold!” fade away as we push open the door to check the stock. Those cries are replaced with excited expressions of, “Look! We have more lambs!”
My husband and I both grew up around livestock. Some of our fondest memories revolve around county fair experiences. We credit who we are today with our involvement in 4-H and FFA. We want our boys to develop life skills and leadership by “learning to do.”
Speaking of our boys: they’re four. Yes, plural: “boys.” Yes, they’re both four. Yes, they’re twins. No, I don’t know how I do it. Yes to all the clichés: double trouble, twice the fun, what one doesn’t think of, another one does. No, I could not imagine our life any other way.
The sheep are a new thing for us. “Learning to do,” right? We jumped in with two feet, purchasing 15 bred ewes late last fall. Purchasing the ewes was an easy decision. We know we don’t have to wait for 4-H for our boys to start developing a work ethic. They’re working on it now, each day as they accompany us to the barn. We’re learning as we go, and we couldn’t be more thankful for those experienced pros answering our countless questions throughout the lambing season.
And, wouldn’t you know, it seems like we’re learning as much from two four year-olds as we are from those seasoned shepherds? The four year-olds see everything from a fresh perspective and have a happy-go-lucky attitude that makes my heart melt. My toes may freeze in the sub-zero weather, but they remind me that it’s so much warmer in the barn than outside. A bottle baby may frustrate me, but they tell me that they’re so happy they get to take care of him. I may curse the frozen water under my breath, but they’re busy carrying hay one handful at a time. I stop and pause, realizing how grateful we are to have this calm barn to teach everlasting lessons that will pay off in a crazy world.
The chores are done, and we make our way back to the house. They talk me into hot chocolate as a treat for their hard work. As we sip the warm goodness, I tell them how they are such big helpers and their faces light up with pride. In my mind, I know I could take care of the animals quicker on my own, but in my heart, I know we’re not just raising lambs: we’re raising quality kids, too.