Your flock is bigger than you think

You may be tiny; you may be the only one just like you in this whole world; you may feel so isolated—especially right now. But you are not alone. Your flock—near and far— loves you and has your back. — Mr. Lonely

Here’s What’s Happening At Good Spirits Farm

Whew, where to start. Sorry for the lull last week, I had just hit my breaking point with farm work and realized taking a week off from writing the newsletter would be one way to make my day a little easier. But I missed sending you all news from the farm!

Last week, we had a disaster with my egg incubation project. ONE chick hatched out of 24 eggs. I have no idea what went wrong because I watched the temperature and the humidity like a hawk. In the past, I’ve had about an 80 percent hatch rate, without paying all that much attention to the incubator. Maybe I was TOO careful this time, or maybe the eggs got roughly handled in shipping, or maybe they just were not fertile to begin with. Either way, it was another bummer in a spring full of bummers.

With just one chick, I rushed out to the farm store to see if they had chicks to keep this guy company. I tried three stores. Every one of them was out. So: I became his flock. I’d get him out of his brooder a few times a day to sit on my lap while I worked. He’d make happy chirping noises and settle right in on my lap—then cry when I put him back by himself. Heartbreaking!

The good news is the farm store got a new shipment of chicks yesterday, and Mr. Lonely is not lonely anymore! I brought home 15 chicks, and they’re all happily peeping away right now.

Mr. Lonely was not the only one feeling alone this week. Caring for a disabled lamb and a bottle lamb is a lot of work for one person (who also has a farm to run). But, like Mr. Lonely, this week I was reminded that I have my own, non-traditional flock that has my back.

Last week, I took the lamb with spina bifida down to the University of Tennessee for a once-over. They found he had a UTI (likely going to always be an issue for him, since he has almost no bladder control), but otherwise seemed pretty healthy. They didn’t feel there was much they could do to help him beyond fitting him for a wheelchair when he gets older, but they also told me that they saw no glaring reason to put him down—like a skull malformation or other neurological issues. So: We decided it was safe to name him. He’s now Sebastian, named after the character in Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night” who enters the play via a shipwreck. Our Sebastian got a rough start in the play of his life, too.

(Here’s me and Juliet waiting outside while the vets looked over Sebastian.)

Many of you had asked if you could help cover Sebastian’s expenses, and I’d put any sort of fundraising off, because I just wasn’t sure he’d be around long enough to actually need a wheelie cart. I also wanted to delay buying a cart as long as he was trying to walk. I was really hopeful he would walk/hop.

This week though, he stopped making progress on walking. He’s simply growing faster than he is getting stronger. Where he could once hold himself up for a few steps, he’s now too heavy and topples right over. On Wednesday, I realized he wasn’t even really trying to walk anymore, which broke my heart. But: It also told me it was time to order a cart.

I put up a GoFundMe link, not really sure what would happen. After all: Times are so tough for so many Americans, and there are so many causes that need our help. You all blew me away with your generosity for this little guy. We’ll be able to get him a starter chair for now, and a full-size chair once he’s an adult. Thank you so much for showing me that I have my own flock—even if many of its members are hundreds or thousands of miles away.

Sebby’s starter chair will arrive either Saturday or Monday and I cannot wait to get him rolling. He’s going to be just THRILLED at being able to keep up with Juliet. It’s not going to be easy for him—sheep get up and lie down lots throughout the day, and he will not be able to do that without my help. He’s always going to struggle with UTIs, too. His road forward is hard, but: He seems to be up for rolling down that road, and I am glad I can give him that chance.

(Somehow sweet Sebby always seems to be smiling in pics!)

Here’s What I Loved This Week

Your generosity and empathy. I cannot tell you how encouraging it was to see how many people care about this little lamb. On a micro level, it is wonderful to have the financial backing to really take care of him. On the macro level, it is such a comfort to know that the world is full of people who see a creature in need and ask how can I help?

Oh, last thing: We started an Instagram for Sebastian. If you’re on Instagram, you can find him at @Lamb_o_rghini.