Jennifer Kay Lewis
It was Christmas morning of 1963. It was bitterly c-o-l-d outdoors across the rolling hills of our majestic and peaceful Missouri countryside.
We had lived here for about ten years; but, we had never the seen such an intense snowstorm. Over a period of ten-hours, we had received the most severe, white-out conditions we had ever experienced.
Daddy anxiously listened to the man on the radio, “our local area had received nearly ten inches of slippery ice and hazardous deep snow.” I remember how hard it was for Dad to walk two steps in this.
Our views from all directions – seemed to reveal no end to the extent of this blizzard or the storm’s unyielding magnitude.
From a child’s perspective, the best thing I got that year was a dolly I aptly named, Jill. She was dressed in a bright red dress adorned with white lace, and like a tiny version of myself, she had thick, blonde, curly hair. I still have my baby Jill. Over the years, she has become rather tattered, but I still remember how I cherished this baby-doll.
We had numerous funny, tender and compassionate caring times spent with many various needy animals and barnyard livestock.
One of the most vivid impressions that my brain captured, is that of Sunshine, our pet calf. We nurtured that weak calf until she could, literally, stand on her own two legs. Sunshine quickly took rich nourishment from our crudely fashioned nipple.
I remember, for a couple of days she seemed to be doing okay. Then, all of a sudden, she took a turn for the worse. Daddy shouted for us kids to help him get Sunshine in near the warmth of the oven. The boys held her head in their diminutive arms and Daddy cradled her weakened, ravished body. We kept kissing her and reassuring Sunshine “everything was going to be okay- she need not worry.”
Can you imagine this scene? There we were, four little kids facing what we thought was the end of the world. Our very own superman, Dad came to the rescue and convinced us “we could nurse our pet back to health.” Whatever happened ahead, we knew we were not going to give-up on Sunshine. She needed us!
As time marched on, Sunshine became stronger and more and more active. She stood-up and started walking-around in the house curiously checking things out. Was this a good thing, or not? As hopeful kids, we thought so. However, it seemed rather questionable as Mom tried to create boundaries limiting where Sunshine could roam.
A couple of weeks had passed and Sunshine was well on her way to rejoining the rest of the herd. She was jumping over furniture trying to find the nearest escape route. I remember Mom yelling, “get that calf out of here!” It was clear – it was time for her to go to her permanent home.
Since we lived so far off the beaten-path, we didn’t always call the vet. We often chose to nurse animals of all kinds and hurting livestock back to wellness.
It is impossible for a child to see a sick animal, or rejected animal and not take care of their prized possession. Those kind of dejected livestock quickly won our compassionate Hearts and instantly managed to capture our time and attention.
On a more personal note, I vividly recall a little white lamb with brown markings rejected by her mom. She was in dire need of being bottle-fed nutrient rich milk and I joyously answered her heartbreaking, cries.
As the smallest and weakest, my frail lamb was left behind.
When an animal got adopted into our family, one of the first things we did, was name the animal. Following protocol, I decided to name her. It seemed fitting to me to name her Duckie. “Why name her Duckie?” Well, that is another story in itself.
My Mom had made me this cute white dress with rick-rack trim all around the ruffled skirt. It was appliqued with an orange duck. That dress was my favorite. Mom even made stylish clothes for our fashionable Barbie, Midge, and Tammy dolls!
As soon as the school bus let us safely exit, I would run up the long drive to find Duckie waiting. Her little tail would be wagging so fast that I could hardly contain my giggles!
Duckie took to my glass Pepsi bottle rather hastily and soon she was well on the way to being able to be on her own. That meant I would have to dismantle the temporary fenced-in area I had made for her as she could return to the larger barnyard grounds to join her unknown friends.
As usual, Mom was at hand with her trusty camera! My treasured prize is a picture of me in my special duck dress bottle-feeding my sweet, little lamb, Duckie.
“Yes, our farm was our own glorious piece of Heaven! ”
Growing In Christ,