It's a beautiful day outside my office window- that's because the sun is making a cameo appearance and I can't see the ground. There's not a thermometer anywhere around to tell me it's less than 20 degrees F, and since I can't see the ground, I don't know there's a couple inches of snow out there.
Never fear, I'll look out the same window in three months, and with any luck, I'll start to see leaves budding on the tress. Who knows? When I stand up and see the ground, the grass might actually be green, the asparagus in the garden shooting through, and the strawberries full of white blossoms. It certainly won't be 15 degrees outside.
How do I know this? Because the annual cycle of rebirth is well underway. Sows carrying 4-H pigs have delivered or are delivering, and ewes carrying lambs for 4-H are doing the same. I've been a part of both.
As usual, it's not all fun and games. Checking both places in the middle of the night- that's not fun. Driving over slick roads to get to the hog barn to check them- that's not fun either. And calling the vet when a pig is sot stuck we can't budge it, that's certainly not fun.
Yet when things work right, when baby pigs pop out, wobble to their feet, and instinctively head toward mom's udder, that's pretty cool. When lambs wobble on knock-kneed legs for the first few minutes after birth, and try to suck mom, that's pretty cool too.
We've never had triplet lambs until this year. We've already had one set that a small ewe aborted, probably too big for her to carry. Now we've had a live set, not all that small, from a veteran ewe that's determined to take care of them. Seeing three laying there when you hope for two and could get just one is quite a sight. Given my druthers, I'll still stop at two, but we take what nature gives us and try to make the best of it.
On the other extreme, I've had a sow with just one pig inside in the past, but it wasn't born alive. It technically wasn't born dead - the sow died because it was too big to pass. This time we've got a sow that had three, two born dead and one alive. But as they say, it only takes one! He's a feisty little devil, and when crate space got tight, around the time he was two weeks old, his crate was the primary target. Mommy went out and he went to join a litter of Berks.
Talk about socially challenged, the first few minutes he just ran around everybody. He could have qualified for stimulus money to train socially disadvantaged youth - well, maybe not. After a day, neither he nor the sow nor his new family seemed to care that he was the only red pig in a litter that also included six Berks.
Life isn't always fair. It doesn't always work out like you want. We can't dial in how may lambs or pigs we want. You won't be able to dial in the date you start planting this year either. But you can choose to roll with the flow and make the best of every situation. That's what has gotten me through the winter.
Spring and new life will come again. It's coming already, in farrowing barns and lambing barns and pastures all across the country. Let's get geared up for another great spring season.