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The Homefront: Grumpy geezer gives way to spring’s baby animals

By Staff | Apr 16, 2024

D. Louise Brown

So … it looks like we can officially say it’s spring. We shoveled snow off the deck a couple of weeks ago when that grumpy geezer, Old Man Winter, dumped his last pile of freezing stuff before slinking out of town. Then we blinked, and everything outside is now whispering — no, screaming — “Spring!”

Folks try to put in words why we love spring the most — the delicious warmth, the emergence of life, the return of color, the expanding of light, a new beginning, the renewal of growth, the world awakening, etc.

Naw. It’s the baby animals.

Spring is favored because of tiny, fluffy, cuddly creatures that send all but the most hard hearted of us into cuteness overload. They change us.

At a Baby Farm Animals event, I watched a teen, who’s been trying on the Goth look, hold a chick. The tiny, peeping ball of fluff morphed her into a thoughtful protector who snuggled it, whispered to it and showed more tenderness than anyone imagined she had.

Cuter than chicks were baby bunnies with velvety ears pinned back, snuggling, dozing, oblivious to the stream of oohing and aahing they generated. The darlings of the barnyard were baby goats — constant motion that bounced, butted and bleated. You need a lift? Watch baby goats. They’re showoffs, especially in packs. And if there’s something to climb, they’re on it. Literally. Meanwhile, sweet-faced calves bawled for their mothers, long-legged colts cavorted around their equally long-legged moms, and puppies and kittens snuggled into arms.

My favorites were the lambs. Because for a brief, breathless moment a long time ago, my little 7-year-old mind believed I owned one.

I found a baby lamb in the mountains one sweet spring afternoon. It was separated from its mountain flock. More afraid of being alone than of me, it came to me. I gently herded it back to my family’s campsite and, of course, said what any young child would say: It followed me home. Can I keep it?

My parents replied, “Well, no. It’s not ours. It belongs to a herd somewhere.”

Even at that young age, I knew that to just leave it would doom it. My parents had set up camp for a couple of days of family fun. Searching for a sheep herd was not on their list of things to do. But a panicking child who wouldn’t be sleeping that night for worrying about the lamb set them into motion. Dad climbed into the jeep and headed out. Mom, with us kids — and the lamb — hiked to the top of the ridge from where we were camped. Up high on the mountain’s top, we could see across valley after valley. No sheep herd in sight.

I was a tangle of nerves wondering if my parents would let me keep this lamb if we couldn’t find its herd. I remember very young prayers going up, begging for that.

Sadly for me, happily for the lamb, Dad found the herd. He came back and took the lamb plus me to the shepherd, a fellow who spoke no English but was clearly glad to get his lamb back. So was the momma, who came running when she heard her little one bleating.

One ancient, creased photo of me in a rumpled, red jacket with my arm across the back of the lamb gamely standing next to me in tall grasses confirms the story. We both look like orphaned lambs. We both look content to be with each other. It was a brief, sweet, unforgettable moment, and then our separate lives moved apart and on.

Since then, I’ve been partial to all things small and defenseless — especially lambs.

So, yay for you, spring. You have your flowers bedecked, your birds coming back, your nests in trees, your earthy smells, your green things growing. And baby animals, too. Especially the lambs. Nicely done.

You have earned favorite season status — and we’re fully embracing it.

(Just don’t let us down with a late winter blast. Keep that geezer at bay.)

D. Louise Brown lives in Layton. She writes a biweekly column for the Standard-Examiner.


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