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The naming of the lambs…

February 9, 2010

TBD and Pontus

As I mentioned earlier, I’ve been having some difficulty choosing names for these little muffins. But today, with Nadine’s help, I’ve officially named the darker lamb Pontus. This was the name suggested by Wyatt, the 5 year old neighbor, and then Christian’s mom sent me a story about a baby lamb named Pontus. When Nadine read the story, she conferred that one had to be named Pontus, and then she referenced this clip:

“’No way Pontus is stupid,’ I said ‘You just don’t get baby lambs.’

But Pontus just sniffed the milk, baaed and looked sad.”

Perhaps I should take this gesture in a different way, but regardless, I’m going with Pontus. The full story is pasted below. Thank you to Anita for translating and passing on this lovely story…

“I Get a Baby Lamb”
Now I’ll tell you something that happened last spring.  We have a lot of sheep here in Bullerbyn (Noisy Village) and they have babies every year.  There is nothing on earth as cute as baby lambs.  They are cuter than kittens and puppies and piglets.  I think they are almost cuter than Kerstin (Olle’s baby sister), although I am afraid to say that within earshot of Olle.
When the sheep give birth we run down to the sheep house every morning to find out how many lambs have been born during the night.  When we open the door to the sheep house, the sheep baaa as loud as they can.  The baby lambs baaa too but sweetly and not as coarsely as the rams and the ewes.  Almost every ewe has two babies.
One Sunday Morning when I got to the sheep house I found a dead baby lamb in the straw.  I ran and told daddy immediately.  And he found out why.  It was because his mom did not have any milk.  The poor little thing had starved to death.  I plopped down in the doorway of the sheep house and burst into tears.  In a little while Anna came and I told her everything and she started to cry too.
“I don’t want baby lambs to die,” I told my dad
“Nobody wants baby lambs to die,” my dad replied, “ but I’m afraid here is another one who will not make it.”
He pointed to a pitiful looking little lamb in his arms.  It was the dead baby lamb’s brother.  Naturally, he too could not nurse his mom.  And newborn baby lambs can only
drink milk.  Because of this he had to slaughter the lamb brother to keep him from starving to death.  When we heard him say this Anna and I cried even louder.  We practically wailed.
“I don’t want baby lambs to die !” I cried and threw myself on the ground.
Daddy picked me up and said:
“Don’t cry Lisa!”  And then he said:
“You can try bottle feeding this baby lamb if you want.  Just like a little human baby.”
Oh, I became so happy, so happy I don’t think I have ever been so happy.  I did not know that you could bottle feed baby lambs.  Daddy cautioned me not to be too optimistic.  The lamb might die any way but it would not hurt too try.
Anna and I ran to Aunt Lisa, Olle’s mom and borrowed a bottle that used to be Kerstin’s when she was a tiny baby.  Then we ran to daddy again.
“Can’t we give the poor little thing cream?” I asked him.
But then daddy told me that cream would make the lamb sick.  His tummy could only tolerate cream diluted with water.  Daddy helped me mix the milk and then we warmed the bottle in warm water.  I put the nipple to the baby lambs mouth. And just imagine, he started sucking right away.  You could tell he was really, really hungry.
“ Well you have now become a foster mom to this little guy,” daddy said.  “Remember he needs frequent feedings from morning to night so you mustn’t get tired of this.”
Anna said if I ever got tired just to tell her.  She would gladly feed my baby lamb.  But I told her:
“Ha, don’t you think I would ever get tired of feeding baby lambs!”
I named the baby lamb Pontus and daddy told me it was my very own lamb.  It is a good thing that every thing was arranged before Lasse and Bosse (Lisa’s older brothers) woke up that Sunday morning because I have a hunch that they would fight over Pontus.
“ Isn’t it typical that one can’t sleep in one morning without Lisa getting a baby lamb.”
Lasse muttered and was a little annoyed that Pontus was mine and not his.
In the first week every kid in Bullerbyn came and watched when I was feeding Pontus, but after a while they got bored, every one of them.
It is amazing how hungry baby lambs are.  It seems hey are hungry all the time.  Every morning before going to school I ran down to the sheep house and fed Pontus.  As soon as he caught sight of me he came running, wiggling his little stump of the tail and made the cutest little “baaa-baaa”.  He was snow white except for a little black smudge on his nose that made him stand out among the other lambs.  Agda (family maid) fed him once while I was at school.  As soon as I came home he had to be fed again.  And then he had to eat at night again.  Once I tried to get Anna to feed Pontus but she said:
“Tomorrow.  I don’t have time right now.”
But I had promised daddy not to get tired of feeding Pontus and so I didn’t.  I loved him so much.  Most of all I loved him because he was so happy to see me.  I think Pontus believed that I was his real mommy.  I asked Lasse and Bosse if they did not think that Pontus thought I was his real mommy and then Lasse said:
“Sure.  You look like a sheep.”
One nice day daddy told me that Pontus needed to learn to drink from a bowl.  After all he could not keep drinking from a bottle when he was a big ram.
Poor Pontus, he had no idea why I all of a sudden put a bowl under his nose.  He did not know what to do.  He nuzzled me looking for the bottle and baaed pathetically.
Bosse was watching.
“Come on, drink the milk for Pete’s sake”, he said.  “Are you stupid or what?  Just drink it.”
I got mad at Bosse.
“No way Pontus is stupid,” I said “You just don’t get baby lambs.”
But Pontus just sniffed the milk, baaed and looked sad.
At least I understand baby lambs better than Bosse. This is the trick I used.  I stuck my hand in the milk and bingo! Pontus started sucking my fingers.  He sucked and sucked and that way he slurped up all the milk.  He spilled some of course.
So Pontus sucked my fingers for a while.  And then one morning when he was really hungry and could not wait for me to put my hand in the milk, he started drinking all by him self.  After that he did not need my fingers anymore.  In a way it was too bad because he was so adorable when he sucked my fingers.
When the weather got warmer in the spring all the sheep went grazing in the sheep pasture by our farm.  The lambs had to learn to eat grass although they still had to have their milk.
So I would go down to the pasture every day with my bowl of milk.  I would stand by the gate and as soon as I cried “Pontus” as loud as I could I could hear his familiar little baaa way far away and see him running toward me his little tail wagging back and forth.
Now Pontus is a grown sheep and doesn’t need milk any more.  He eats grass and leaves and is growing into a big handsome ram.
Who knows, maybe Ill get more baby lambs someday.  Or perhaps, puppies, kittens or baby rabbits.  But never anyone as sweet as Pontus.  Never, ever will I love anyone as much as I love Pontus.
Pontus goes to school
Lasse used to tease me all the time, and he always said;
“It would be better to have a dog than a baby lamb.”
Olle agreed with him of course because Olle has a dog named Svipp.
“Sure it is better with dogs,” Olle said.
“How come?” I wanted to know.
“Because you can take dogs everywhere,” Olle said.  “They just come along wherever you go.”
“Pontus just grazes in the sheep pasture.” Lasse said.
“But baby lambs are cuter,” Anna said just to help me out.
“What good is he if he just grazes in the field,” Lasse said.
We discussed this one afternoon on the way home from school.  The next morning when I went to feed Pontus as usual and he came running so sweet and adorable that you could just eat him up.  I thought I would not trade him for a thousand dogs.  I also thought that it was too bad that he was stuck grazing when nobody could actually see how cute he was.
Sometime Svipp follows Olle all the way to school.  I guess that’s why Olle said that dogs follow you wherever you go.  One time our teacher even let Svipp come to class and lie down by Olle’s desk.
Well that was Svipp.  Poor Pontus was confined to the sheep pasture.  He was standing there slurping milk out of his bowl and I thought about how smug Lasse had been and how unfair it was that dogs and not baby lamb could go everywhere.   As soon as Pontus had finished his milk I had decided to let him come with me to school.  That would show Lasse once and for all.
Our school is in the Big Village.  It is a pretty far way to walk and us children from Bullerbyn always walk together.  With having to feed Pontus every morning before going to school I have a hard time getting ready on time.  this particular morning when I had decided to bring Pontus to school, they were all waiting for me outside the gate to Olle’s house.
“Hurry up Lisa,” cried Britta “or we will be late.”
Then I turned to Pontus and cried:
“Hurry up Pontus, or we will be late!”
I have never seen such a surprised bunch of kids as Lasse, Bosse, Olle, Anna, and Britta  as when they caught sight of Pontus.
“Where…. where does he think he is going?” said Lasse
“To school, “ I said.  Maybe that will put an end to all the squabbles that only dogs can come along everywhere.
I swear they looked astonished.
“Lisa, are you sure you are quite all right, “ Lasse said
“Do mom and dad know, “ Bosse asked.
When Bosse asked if mom and dad knew, I got a little anxious.  I had not considered that part.  But Anna clapped her hands, laughed and said why couldn’t baby lambs go to school if dogs could?  Exactly, that’s what I thought.  Suddenly Lasse grinned too and said:
“Why not?  Although teacher will probably have a cow.”
So we all trotted off uphill and downhill to school.  Pontus too.  Sometimes he stopped, as if wondering if this was OK, but I just called “Pontus” and then he cried “Baaaa” quite sensibly and caught up with me.
It took a little longer than usual to get to get to school so of course we were late.  The bell had already rung and all the kids were already in class.  There aren’t that many children in The Big Village and Bullerbyn, so we share the same classroom and the same teacher although we are in different grades.
Pontus tripped a little when he climbed the school stairs so I had to help him out a little.
“Maybe he isn’t ready for school yet, “ Lasse said.
When Lasse was about to start school several years ago he couldn’t sit still for a minute.  Then teacher told my parents that he wasn’t ready for school yet.  She sent him home and asked him to come back the next year.  He needed to play more first.  Lasse has never forgotten this.  That’s why he said this about Pontus.
Britta knocked on the door and we came inside.
“Sorry for being late,” Britta apologized.
As soon as she said this Olle started giggling.  The rest of us were quiet but Olle giggled as if someone was tickling him.
“Aren’t we happy today, Olle,” teacher said.
Pontus was standing behind all of us so no one could see him.  Suddenly though, there was the cutest little “Baaaa” and Pontus poked out his little head.  All the kids startled.  And so did teacher come to think of it.
“What on earth …. “ she said. “Don’t tell me you brought a lamb.”
“Lisa….,” Bosse started but then he shut up because he realized that teacher might get mad with me.  I have to admit that I was a little scared myself.
“ Since we are studying domestic animals…,” I said quietly “I thought….
“You thought what,” said teacher.
“Well, it might be nice to bring a baby lamb,” I said.  I had not thought about this until this very moment.
Teacher started to laugh.  A lot.  And so did all the other kids.  Especially Olle.  He laughed so hard he was shaking.
So we brought Pontus to teacher’s desk and everybody got to pet him.  And we read about sheep in our science book and I got to share how I had bottle fed Pontus since he was born.  Everybody loved him and we sang “Ba, Ba black sheep” to him.  But I think Pontus got a little tired of all the fuss and begun to long for the pasture.  He was very well behaved though and stayed by my desk for the whole period.  Except now and then he skipped a little and baaed.  Every time he did this Olle started laughing again.  He put his head on the desk and laughed and laughed and made everybody else laugh.
When the weather is nice we always have our sandwiches for lunch on the school stairs.
We did this on this day too.  As usual I had brought my milk in a bottle and I gave it to Pontus.  Teacher let me have a bowl and all the kids loved watching Pontus when he drank his milk.  Anna shared her milk with me so that I did not have to go without.
Afterwards Pontus got to run around in the schoolyard.  For a while he tried to eat the carrot tops in teachers garden but I shooed him away and told him that he had to calm down until he was at home in the pasture again.
When school was out for the day and we were about to walk home Lasse said:
“Tomorrow we are studying bovines.  That will be a hoot.  I’ll bring our bull.”
Olle laughed so hard he got the hick-ups.
“I bet it will be crowded by my desk,” Lasse deadpanned.
Then teacher said, enough with live animals at school, even though she admitted it had merits when you studied zoology.  It could get complicated she said.
“ True, imagine when we study crocodiles,” said Anna
Olle just howled and laughed so hard he could barely breathe.
“I’ll bring a crocodile!” he squealed.
Pontus got tired on the way home.  We took turns carrying him up and down all the hills. Then we brought him to the pasture.  Never have I seen a baby lamb jump for joy like Pontus once we put him down.  He virtually galloped to the other sheep and baaaed loud enough you could hear him all over the pasture.
“It is obvious that he is not ready for school yet, “ Lasse said.

From: Bullerby Boken by Astrid Lindgren
Translation: Mom

2 Comments leave one →
  1. nadine permalink
    February 9, 2010 8:57 pm

    i love this story. i love it so much. wherever it came from, thank you.

  2. February 12, 2010 6:27 am


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