Bummer Lambs


Pistol a few hours after birth.

Pistol and older daughter napping on the couch.

Mary Had a Little Lamb

I have always had a love of sheep. I have been Mary Had a Little Lamb since I was a child. When I would meet someone new, they would say, “Mary, Mary quite contrary.” I would respond, “No, you have the wrong Mary. I have a lamb.” I still do that as an adult.

Pistol as an adult. She is a hair sheep; no wool. She is a Black Belly Barbados sheep.

 Four years ago, God blessed us with a beautiful piece of Texas land. It already had sheep on it and the former owner said that they would come with the sale if we wanted them. Of course, we wanted them! Off we went on our adventure.
We bought the property in January. In May, we would learn about bummer lambs. That is a correct livestock term. But in practice, they are both a bummer and a blessing.
Bummer lambs are lambs that for whatever reason are rejected by their mother. Sometimes the mama ewe will ignore them. Others, she will become violent and push them away when they try to nurse. If the shepherd does not step in and bottle feed the lamb, it will die.
We watched our bummer lamb being born. It was the first baby for this mama and she panicked after the birth. She ran away immediately after the birth. We tried to introduce the new lamb to her but it didn’t  work.
House Sheep
We brought the new lamb into the house to dry her off. She was a feisty little thing so we named her Pistol. We were first-time sheep parents and knew nothing. We don’t have a barn and she needed to be feed around the clock. She was raised in a dog crate in my adult daughter’s room. Her room doesn’t have carpet in it and the others do. She and I shared the round the clock feedings. My daughter was between jobs and I was working so she was in charge of the night time feedings. My husband and younger daughter helped too. It quickly became clear who Pistol thought were her mothers. She would only take a bottle from myself or my older daughter.
We had a house sheep. She bonded to both myself and my daughter. But she was closer to me and I became her official mom. When she was about three or four months old, we weaned her from the bottle. She was eating the hay and pellets that the adult sheep were eating. It was time to introduce her to the herd. We did it slowly and would bring her back into the house for the night. Finally, the day came when she got to stay with the herd full-time. She was one upset little lamb. She thought we were horrible sheep parents. She would pitifully baa at the fence around the house wanting to come back in. She eventually became a sheep in the herd but she still loved her people.
Bummer Lamb Effects
Pistol will be four in May. Of all our twenty-two sheep, she is the most social. She knows her name and will come when called. She loved to have her head scratched. She thinks that she is entitled to be hand fed treats while the other sheep eat it off the ground. She lives up to her name, Pistol. If there is trouble to be found she will find it. She will jump into my car to look for treats. She will hop from front seat to the back seat so she won’t have to get out of the car. She is my sheep and I love her.
She was a bummer lamb and it has affected her life. I want to be a bummer lamb with Jesus as my Shepherd. Pistol knows my voice and will come when I call her. I want to know the voice of my Shepherd and respond when he whispers my name. Pistol wants to be near me. She wants her head scratched. She wants to be petted and fed by hand. She likes to rub her head on my walking stick. She wants a relationship. I want to spend time with my Jesus. I want to walk with him and talk with him. I want affection from him; I want a relationship. Pistol know that I bring good things; her favorite is deer corn. She will eat the alfalfa pellets but she would prefer not to. Jesus brings good things to me too. Sometimes they are my favorites. And others, like Pistol with the alfalfa, I don’t understand that they are good for me.
We have 22 sheep in our herd. But I have a special relationship with one. I would give that same love and relationship to any of my sheep. They have not chosen it. I will not force it on any of them. We provide the same love and care for all our sheep. If one is missing, we walk the 10 acres until we find it. It doesn’t matter if we do it is 105-degree heat or a major thunderstorm. We are shepherds and we take care of our sheep. It is the choice of the sheep to have an intimate relationship with the shepherd.
The Good Shepherd calls us all to be his bummer lambs and have an intimate relationship with him. You will not be turned away.
I am a bummer lamb. Are you? I would love to hear from you in the comment section.

3 thoughts on “Bummer Lambs

  1. Vivian (Susan)

    What a nice post. I was unfamiliar with the term “bummer sheep.” But I’m an animal lover and am always jokingly (sort of) saying to my husband such things as, “Oh, look at that adorable miniature horse! We need one. She could stay in the house with us. She’s really small and could be housebroken.” I love it that you brought the lamb inside and kept it. And your post ends nicely with your relationship with God. It is a heartfelt, sincere post. Also, glad you are feeling better & are back writing. (I’m leaving my website but it’s not live yet.)

    1. marymcmmiller@gmail.com Post author

      I didn’t know about the term either until we had one. I thought people were joking but it is the correct term. Pistol is part of the herd now but still very much a pet. Please let me know when your site goes live, I would like to read it.


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