Parenting

It's a Christmas miracle!

Jen's family turns a grumpy start to the day around with the help of lambs and llamas

Sweet baby sheep make our whole family smile.

It’s 9:00 a.m. Our children have been up for four hours and their bickering and scrapping has reached a new peak. I’ve tried cuddles, snacks, distractions and time outs and have resorted to yelling at them to get along and be quiet. The downright grouchiness of our family is a sharp contrast to the backdrop of cheery Christmas carols and our sparkly tree. I’m about 30 seconds from tears and heading out the door for a solo run when my phone rings.
 
It’s my friend Karen, owner of our music playgroup and hobby farm operator. The local news channel is going to her farm in less than an hour to tape a human interest piece and she would love if our family would come out to help her collect eggs and feed the sheep and llamas — and she doesn’t want to be on TV by herself. 
 
Honestly, the last thing I want to do was tromp around on her farm, pretending to be happy. I look at the tear-stained faces of my kids and figure what’s the worst that can happen. Karen is a dear friend, and I haven’t seen her in weeks. Besides, I’ve always wanted to meet a llama.
 
Something magical happens when the kids walk into the barn. Whether it’s the change of scenery or the calming effect of the farm critters, my kids stop fighting and start laughing. I stop scowling. Showing no fear of the livestock, they barrel in and make friends with the lambs and llamas. We meet the wee lambs and Gillian falls in love with them. Between Isaac, Gillian and another pal’s young son, we collect 12 eggs — egg number 13 cracks all over Isaac’s coat when he reaches into the nesting box. All told we feed 20 sheep and give three llamas special Christmas treats. There’s just something about animals that is good for the soul — and an hour later all of us are much happier. Cake and tea and a Charlie Brown Christmas in Karen’s cozy farmhouse likely help, too.
 
And llamas? They’re as cool as I thought they’d be. I’m pretty sure we wouldn’t have raccoon problems with a llama in our backyard.

Live in the Kawartha Lakes? Watch The 5 O’clock Show tonight for a behind-the-scenes look at Christmas on a small farm, a chance to name Karen’s baby lamb and see my kids romping about. Outside of the Kawarthas? Check The 5 O’clock Show website on Thursday for the archived segment.