On a farm, death is never far away.

Predators, disease and old age take their toll but spring, the season of birth, is all too often also the season of death. The old phrase “Where there is stock, there is trouble” never rings more true than at lambing, calving, foaling and kidding season.

After a labor that did not advance, I emergency called our vet and she confirmed what I had already guessed: Robyn had ringwomb, a condition of unknown cause where the cervix does not open and allow labor to progress naturally. It almost always requires a c-section and so it did here.

The c-section produced two huge, beautiful, but already dead babies and so we then turned our attention to saving the mother. Sadly, it was in vain. Her age (she is our oldest ewe), the long labor and the invasive surgery were all too much for the old gal and she passed this morning. My heart broke for her and I cannot help but blame myself for not having called in the vet sooner.

I think we can sometimes forget how quick and fleeting life can be, how easily things can turn for the worse. How death can snatch those you care for at the most unexpected times, the least likely places. Robyn, while slightly aged, was healthy and strong and not one I expected trouble from. In a matter of hours, she went from hollering at me for grain to lifeless in a bed of straw.

I point all this out because I know some out there feel invincible right now. Some feel this virus isn’t the problem, but the constraints and changes it has put on lives, the economic turmoil are what some find “troublesome”. Some prefer to hold the threats the virus poses to life in contempt.

But death always stands just slightly off stage, waiting to cut the play short. Life on a farm teaches that lesson well. You can plan and prepare and think you are ready, but often death steals the scene anyway.

So take this pandemic seriously, hold those you love tight and listen to what your healthcare providers, your leaders and the CDC tell you. Wash your hands, keep your distance and STAY HOME if you can.

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