This last Sunday morning in May, in these parts the sun is up at six and down at a quarter of nine. The ten ewes, five colored and five white, that we exposed to our two black rams, produced twelve black lambs earlier this month.
That aspect of our efforts is not quite done: Gael, formerly Teen Mom, who takes her Darwinian obligations very seriously, managed to get pregnant when she chose and we await her offspring.
Her twelve nephews and nieces — the Black Lamb Gang — are at their best and most active in the hour after sun-up. Their mothers, who have been replenishing the milk supply in the dark hours, are ready to provide breakfast and to eat their own. For safety, we keep them all in the shed at night, and release them as early as we can to pasture around our house during the day. They mow the grass and there are several trees for shade, a significant benefit when the temperature is above ninety, and their pasture activity occurs beneath the trees as the shade shifts with the sun.
These matters do not concern the Black Lamb Gang.
Once they have made sure that breakfast will be available, off they go, leaping and running and butting and whirling and cavorting, ignoring their mothers until they are summoned, and the summonses do not occur simultaneously. The smallest, twins born nine days ago, cannot quite keep up with the others, so the Gang’s membership changes as the hour goes on. The mothers have moved on, so a hungry lamb needs to locate Mom, and, replenished, Moms needs to locate their offspring. During that hour, the birds are at their noisiest, but none of the noises keeps the shepherd — who, after all, got up well before six to let the sheep out — from settling into a chair and drowsiness.
On Sunday mornings, our radio station plays music from earlier ages, sometimes choral, sometimes not, some from a religious inspiration, some not. The radio is on, this morning, quiet but present, not noisier than the lambs, their Moms, and the birds, almost on the edge of drowsiness.
Have you encountered, on your path, a song which begins with the lyric
“The strife is o’er, the battle done,
The victory of life is won;
The song of triumph has begun. Alleluia!”?
It is, of course, a Christian hymn, an Easter hymn, number 91, in fact, and it was written by Palestrina in 1588, the year of the Spanish Armada, and it ends
“That we may live and sing to thee. Alleluia!”
Earlier, on my path, I’ve heard it and sung it, so the tune itself nudged its way up out of my drowsiness, particularly because it was being performed by a high level choir, perhaps that of King’s College, or the National Cathedral. The fellow who arranged it put in lots of extra Alleluias and the choir’s many voices were clear and clean.
Just then, one of our twelve, not far from the house, began to think about its mother and its baas joined the Alleluias, light, pleasant, persuasive, insistent.
I heard about the church of the Blue Dome awhile back. I don’t get there as often as I might, but it does beckon.