“Only mothers can think of the future—because they give birth to it in their children.” ~ Maxim Gorky
Most of us know that saying, “Be kind to everyone. You don’t know what that individual has been through.”
As I look at Mama Maxine today, I see a hint of her former life. She is a bit more worn out than her three children—smaller and slower. And yet, here at Luvin Arms Animal Sanctuary, she is healthy, safe, and thriving with her children. Her past doesn’t drag her down. Yes, it’s part of her story, but it’s not her whole story.
Mama Maxine is a sheep. She was raised on a dairy farm in a state of extreme neglect. By the time she was rescued, she was so malnourished you could see her bones.
Just one day after her rescue, she gave birth to three beautiful babies. The dairy industry isn’t as harmless as some may think. In her previous life, Maxine’s babies would have been immediately seized from her, and after taking her milk for profit for about a year, she would have been impregnated again. This inhumane cycle would have happened over and over until she could no longer produce children, and hence, milk. Sheep families in the dairy industry are never given the opportunity to know one another or to form a natural mother-child bond.
Yet, Maxine held out for the sanctuary to give birth to her babies. Her children won’t know anything about the world of death and destruction from which Maxine came; they will only know the life-affirming existence she fought so hard for and received, for all of them—living life in peace.
At Luvin Arms, we bear witness to what happens when a mother and her flock are given the chance to thrive together.
Like most mothers, Maxine loves her three babies more than anything else in the world. Her rescue story exemplifies her desire to protect her offspring, even in utero. Mama Maxine keeps a close eye on each of her babies. She roams her home with her children as a unit—wherever Mama goes, they all go. Today, Maxine loves her food, something that she didn’t always get in her former life. (She has been known to headbutt her way to the well-deserved front of the food line.)
Next is Lexine, who is quite the character. She seeks out scratches from Sanctuary visitors. Similar to a dog, Lexine is a “leaner” while being brushed, and won’t let you stop giving her attention anytime soon. Like the rest of her family, Lexine is learning clicker play, a form of cooperative care that allows us to build relationships with our animal residents based on trust and choices.
Jared, the only boy, is the most outgoing of the bunch. He likes to headbutt everyone, including humans (in a playful way, of course!). Because Mama Maxine was so malnourished and didn’t have enough milk for all three of her babies, Jared was bottle-fed from the beginning. This early intimate introduction to humans imprinted upon Jared, so he trusts people more readily than other sheep in his flock. As Jared ages, he is hanging out more and more with his peers, the other male sheep residents at Luvin Arms. (Children grow up way too fast!)
Finally, there is Jaclyn, the black sheep of the family. Jaclyn is sweet and curious. She is bonding with our newest sheep resident, Riley, who came from the 4H industry. We will see how that potential love story unfolds!
On May 22, we celebrate the day Maxine and her babies came home to Luvin Arms. As my own Mom of three adult children says:
“Mothers instinctively do everything they possibly can for their children all their lives, at all costs.”
This is true for nonhuman mothers, too.