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Holiday Story of Lambs, Miles, and Mild Mayhem, part II

Published: 12/17/2014
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Editor’s Note:
This holiday story was sent to us from Nicki Claus, a NickerNews reader from northern Nevada.
Readers may ask, “What’s it got to do with the holiday?”
Compassion, critters, creativity, and a sprinkle of craziness. Sound like the holidays to you?

Enjoy this multi-part series. It resumes as Nicki turns away from a toxic impasse and searches for solutions. Read Part I

Part II, Holiday Story

By Nicki Claus

From the road atlas, I see there’s nothing to the east - no facilities, no town, not even an intersection for at least 20 miles. So I turn around and head back five miles to the nearest town (population maybe 40) and pull into the first driveway with cars in it.

This, I learn, is the neat, air-conditioned home of Gryll and Lep, a couple who make their living selling celebrity autographs on line. Great guys who under no uncertain terms want anything to do with the lambs. They do, however, let me bring the lambs inside where the little creatures skitter, slip, and pee on their linoleum floor and spill their cats’ water bowl. 

Gryll makes some calls and races off to chat with a nearby rancher who, he reports, is completely unhelpful and apathetic.

We consider options. The three of us agree that the lambs will certainly die if I take them back to where they were, to hang out in 90-degree heat with no mom, no shade, no food or water.

Gryll and Lep won’t take them and they know of no one who will. In that moment, we decide…ok, I decide: I'll take them and find a home for them in Maine.

Kinda, sorta, not really thinking things through.

Lep suggests picking up lamb replacement milk powder and bottles at the farm store in Craig, Colorado, 80 miles east. An hour later, I do just that. And in the only shade of a big empty parking lot, I get a crash course on how to tend to these demanding, desperate creatures.

By now, my daughters are three hours ahead of me. I get more bottles going for the lambs and shove them in the space where a front passenger's feet go. I bottle feed them, doing 80 to 90 mph, trying to catch up to the girls and trying to suppress my own lunacy which keeps bubbling up in the form of giggles.

We finally meet in a supermarket parking lot in Steamboat Springs where my kids, like my dogs, are saying 'What the heck!?' (They actually had much harsher comments, but I spare you the verbiage.)

In the meantime, I text and talk with a Maine friend who keeps sheep. She advises a feeding schedule, milk amounts, and suggests diapers. The diapers are a great idea, especially since pooping is one of those things I failed to take into consideration. But it turns out they wholly fail in practice.

For our first night, we find a campsite in the Rocky Mountain National Forest. The lambs are tied by spare rope to a tree where they nibble grass and hang out while we cook dinner and drink beer. The beer is what I dropped in the cooler that morning before dawn; it is called Baba and has a sheep on the label.

The dogs hang out under the picnic table, eying their new traveling companions.

What to do at night?

Leaving them tied up outside seems sketchy; leaving them in the car seems stinky. The lambs join us in the tent. I get the middle. Dogs on one side. Lambs on the other. Dogs are still questioning my decisions.

The next day, things proceed as normally as you might expect with lambs, dogs, and 2,300 miles to travel. But my sister calls to say there are tornado warnings up ahead in eastern Nebraska. The skies are getting ominous and the wind is buffeting our cars sideways.

There will be no camping tonight.
We book a motel.

Again, I’m disinclined to leave lambs overnight in the car.
Have you ever put a lamb in a suitcase and told it to hush?
It’s quite challenging. Saying "this is for your own good!" doesn't help much.

Coming next: Smuggler's Inn and growing zeal for life.

Read Part I
Read Part III

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