Yesterday I watched a bee struggling in a spider web. My first thought was to free it, but then seeing the spider making its way to the bee, I decided to walk away. I felt it wasn’t my place to interfere. Just a few minutes ago I sat at my sewing machine and saw Minnie stalking an unsuspecting chipmunk. I thought to get up and chase Minnie away, but didn’t. Minnie ran faster than I’ve seen her move since she had her back leg amputated, then they were out of my sight, under the lilac bush. I went out a few minutes later and saw that the chipmunk got away.
If I “rescued’ the bee from the spider’s web, the spider wouldn’t eat until it was able to snare another insect. If I chased Minnie away from the chipmunk, Minnie would still be fine, she actually doesn’t need to be eating any more than we feed her. But in both instances I decided not to interfere. That it wasn’t my place to become involved. It’s the most natural thing in the world for a spider to snare a bug and for a cat to chase a chipmunk. There’s something reassuring, to me, in allowing the natural world to go on around me and to sometimes just bear witness to it instead of trying to control it.
This morning, when Jon and I went into the pasture and saw that Jake, the little white twin to Deb, was laying on the ground alone and not moving I instinctively scooped him up and held him against me. He didn’t struggle to get down, as any of the lambs normally would. He actually rested his head on me as if it was a comfort. All the sheep had moved away from him. From time to time Ma (his mother) would call out to him, but he couldn’t respond. Then the donkeys started to come around, sniffing him, as if trying to understand, trying to get the story. We were sure he was dying. He lay limp in my arms, his eyes mostly closed, his gums and eye lids pale. At that point the question in my mind was not how to save him, but how to help him die with the least amount of suffering.
And this is where the decisions of how much to do and how much to allow to happen come in. The thought of calling the vet to put him down crossed my mind, but he seemed so close to the end we thought he wouldn’t live long. It was Jon’s idea to give what we had a try. So he got out the lamb vitamins and Penicillin and I mixed up a batch of sheep’s milk. Jon gave him the shots and to my astonishment, he drank hungrily from the bottle. This time when I put him on the ground, he stood up and on shaky legs wobbled over to Ma and Deb. Then the three of them made their way to the pole barn with Deb laying down next to Jake.
We decided at this point to allow what would happen to happen. Jon and I both felt that we had done everything a vet would have. And even if they had more treatment options, we wouldn’t want to pursue them. It was time for us to step back and allow Jake’s body to heal or not.
It was interesting that without much discussion, Jon and I both agreed that we didn’t want to call the vet. We both somehow understood how far we were willing to go, how much we were willing to do. And for me, it was not so much an intellectual decision, but a feeling. The feeling that no matter the outcome, this was the right thing for us to do.
And I’m happy to say that on last checking on Jake he was up and walking around. He even tried to run from me when I tried to pick him up to feed him more milk. After drinking a good amount, he eliminated (another good sign) then for the first time since finding him this morning, he answered Ma’s call and joined her and Deb who were grazing in the pasture. So we’ll keep an eye on him and see how it goes. So far, I’m glad to say, it seems to be going well.