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3 lambs
TRIPLE TROUBLE: These three lambs were apparently meant for a higher purpose. They took turns being “stars” in a play about the life, death and resurrection of Jesus.

Spring brings renewal of life, fresh start

Farmers get a firsthand look at the miracle of rebirth each year.

I don’t remember how the pigs turned out, but I remember Steve Nichols’ words when we picked them up. “We start out fresh every year with new pigs,” said Nichols, Delphi, Ind., a longtime hog judge and pork producer. “They’re all winners right now. It’s a fresh start.”

That was decades ago. But the idea that spring brings a fresh start — that message stuck.

You see it every spring when you plant corn. Maybe you reached 220 bushels per acre last year, maybe not. If you’ve planned properly, a new spring represents another chance to go after your goal.

What farmers see that nonfarmers don’t see is new life each year. You plant seeds, knowing they’ll grow. When tiny, green plants spike through the ground, it’s proof that it’s a new season, a new start. New life brings new opportunity and hope.

Easter tale

This seems like the right time to talk about rebirth and new life. We’ll celebrate Easter on Sunday, April 21. New life is the message of Easter for Christians.

Here’s a story that unfolded recently. Livestock farmers also see new life when calves, lambs and pigs are born. Our lambs were late this year. One older ewe stopped eating about a week before she was due. I sensed she had ketosis, which sometimes develops with multiple births. I began administering a drench. A week later, on March 16, she delivered triplets. The lambs were fine. Unfortunately, she didn’t perk up. Despite everything we tried, she died on March 23.

Yes, sometimes farmers, especially livestock producers, deal with death, too. But it isn’t the end of the story.

Special purpose

Our son and daughter-in-law are part of a special production held for the past 27 years in Hamilton County called “Behold the Lamb.” It’s the story of Easter, re-enacted according to real events.

Held in the Noblesville High School auditorium, there’s a market scene where characters mingle with the audience, carrying live chickens and all sorts of goods. There’s the Passover supper, Jesus’ trial and the Crucifixion. Our son plays a Roman soldier, and he yells at people in the audience — even me! The play concludes with a character portraying Jesus ascending to the top of the auditorium.

Key scenes involve a young boy carrying a lamb with his father. For years our daughter-in-law’s family supplied the lamb. This year the lamb her dad lined up was a month old. When she learned we had orphaned triplets, with the play starting March 27, she saw a better alternative. One or more of them could be part of the show.

We agreed, and they made plans to come get them. They would need a dog kennel-type cage to transport them. I thought we had one … somewhere.

Later that morning, before I had a chance to look for the cages, I hauled off a load of junk. I’ve taken dozens of loads to the dump and never found anything useful while there. This time I backed in where they told me to unload, and what did I find? Two like-new, folded dog kennels sticking out from under the mountain of trash. No more questions — those lambs were destined for the play!

The production was special for me. When the young boy appeared with a lamb, I knew once more that death gives way to life, every time.

It’s a new spring, a new day. Work hard, work safe. But don’t overlook the message of a new season: Life springs eternal.

Comments? Email tom.bechman@farmprogress.com.

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