Papakaio is the small community that we are staying in. It is about 10 miles outside of Oamaru which is in the South Island of New Zealand. Many communities in New Zealand are known for their farming; as a matter of fact, New Zealand is the number one dairy producer in the world. With that being said, our little community here in Papakaio is a large farming area. All of the houses along the road we are staying on have a portion of farm land attached to them. We have had the wonderful opportunity to learn the ways of farm life, and being that it is the beginning of spring here in New Zealand, it is new offspring/baby season. This means we get to see plenty of calves and lambs.
Our host parents have a friend named Farmer Bill. He breeds sheep and has what are called “pet lambs”. These are different from the lambs in the paddock (pasture). These lambs are the lambs that the mother did not claim because they didn’t have the right scent or they didn’t learn to eat right away. Farmer Bill will remove them from the paddock and begin to bottle feed them. This is when they become “pet lambs” because, they have had contact with people and learn to interact with them and they become friendly. The lambs that stay with their mothers do not do this, they are afraid of people and run away.
We were given the opportunity to take five of Farmer Bill’s lambs to have as pets. This means that we get up every morning and mix formula and bottle feed them along with the eleven calves that we have. This has been such a great learning experience for me personally. It is truly like taking care of an infant. They cry when they are hungry, and yes…we can hear this from our sleep out (a bedroom outside of the house), which means you can’t just sleep in and ignore it! Lol
However, through this experience, I am learning how much love and joy God’s creatures can give and how much work he put into making them unique. I never would have thought that I would have my own pet lamb, but I am so thankful for this experience.
It has been so effortless for me to wake up at 7:30 AM to care for something that gives so much love and joy in return; but it has made me ask myself, “Would I have this same compassion for the people who are not the same as this?”, “Would I still treat them the same way that I would treat my lamb if it didn’t love me back?”, “Didn’t God make both people and lambs and love them both?” I think that through caring for these lambs, it has helped me to realize how important it is that I show the same love and compassion to all people I encounter; God has created all things; “And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister” (1 John 4:21). I am so thankful that I was given this gentle reminder through my precious lamb, Liam.