I never cease to be in awe of Mother Nature.
About four years ago, Mr. H purchased the 8-acre parcel of land next door to us, fenced it, and put four or five sheep out to graze. Since then, his flock has grown to 14, and now, between December 31 and January 2, to 20 with six new lambs.
Yesterday and this morning—both mornings—there was a ewe with a newborn in the pasture (actually twins this morning). Mr. H does not live on the property, but comes over every morning between 7:30 and 9:00 to tend the animals (chickens and ducks in addition to the sheep).
The sheep are accustomed to his schedule and remain alert for him. When he arrives the flock begins to move, with a sense of purpose, toward the barn where he greets and feeds them each morning. When he calls, there is a gentle stampede in his direction—except for the mothers of newborn lambs.
This morning it went like this:
Mr. H arrives and calls. The flock almost immediately breaks into a trot, usually in single file with young lambs bounding along beside their moms. The mothers of the newborn, however, have to stay with the new lambs who re not yet ready to bound across the pasture.
She stands there looking at her flock-mates running to the barn, then down at the lambs, and back at the others. It is clear that she wants to go with the flock, but her maternal instincts demand that she stay and tend the babies.
Her conflict is very apparent, yet the maternal instinct is stronger. Of course, by the end of the day, the lambs will be up and running easily, and she and the babies will join the flock.
My college major was biology. I should have done graduate work in animal behavior. It is fascinating.
Mother Nature and the Maternal Instinct relates a first-hand experience observing a ewe and her newborn twin lambs, where I observed the triumph of the maternal instinct.