Ever heard of therapy lambs?
This year Topsy Farms invited the public to bottle-feed and cuddle our baby lambs that needed help. (They were the smallest from 3 or even 4 lambs born to 1 ewe.) People came, spread the word, and we were booked, 11 hours per day for more than 3 weeks.
We knew our own time spent feeding, cuddling the most needy lambs of about 1400 born, was peaceful, calming, quality time.
We soon learned how much our therapy lambs were helping others.
Sure, it is a joy for young families to introduce tots to a tiny, needy animal, to help them learn about the natural world.
Yes, it was a balm for a teacher under stress to sit quietly with her ‘virtually’ adopted lamb, and stroke and hum and rock gently, and bring her overloaded mind and heart to a more quiet level, able to cope once again.
Then we had a family with a girl who turned vegetarian very young, clearly having an unusually link with animals. The lambs flocked to her wonderful energies and reinforced her love. Her autistic sister responded really well to the action.
A woman came in a wheelchair, not yet at peace with her immobilized state. She poured out her frustration and grief quietly, cuddling the therapy lamb which fell sound asleep in her arms. Her body didn’t change, but her mind was less fraught.
Paula Chisholm, in the midst of chemo therapy treatments for a very tough cancer, spent over an hour in meditative link with the wee woolly animal snuggling up to her neck. She wrote us to describe the huge healing impact on her heart and soul. “[…] I relaxed so much and allowed myself just to be in the moment. I truly believe that animals give the best therapy…they don’t expect anything from you but to be loved. Cuddling and playing with them allowed me to forget everything else going on in my life…it gave me a positive purpose and I left your farm feeling so happy and relaxed.” And who knows – maybe it helped her body too?
Niall Hartnett, blind from birth, came to visit on a rainy day. He sat quietly in a chair in the 3-room ‘playpen’, his sensitive hands softly exploring the lamb. The tiny animal responded, feeling safe.
A few Syrian families came to visit, still struggling to adjust to their new world, to the absence of violence, to the low-key warm welcome in Canada and at Topsy Farms. The strained faces relaxed into laughter and joy.
One child who came has a rare illness that prevents her from playing with other children or groups of people. Her family carefully booked a time when she could be alone with the lambs. She has only recently been able to hear, thus speak, but after a few minutes, she was chattering away with the lambs, touching and exploring. Her mother and caregiver were thrilled that she had a ‘normal’ happy hour, playing like any child, anywhere.
A family with an older child who was severely autistic now have a young daughter with the same challenges. The older boy was helped when two of our lambs moved to his farm. Frustration and anger melted away. Two new, sturdy, affectionate lambs moved there last year, and again this healing happened. Their interaction is helping the five year old begin to use language and to socialize more freely.
Topsy thought that people were rescuing lambs but it turned out that the therapy lambs were rescuing us.