There’s a Little Lamb in the Pen

Our pen is a place of simple hope and small joys, particularly now, during the lambing and kidding season. Each guided tour currently ends at the goat and sheep pen, and we also benefit from the sparkle in the visitors’ eyes. We’ve chosen to use words and pictures to tell you what’s happening there this month, so that you can also find comfort.

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‘Coming here is true therapy’, said a visitor who came to our pen just as the herd returned from its daily grazing and just a few minutes after one of the goats gave birth to two black kids. ‘Wow, so cute’, she continued, marvelling at another little kid in the nursery that was born last week and was having fun with its mother the way children and young animals do. The little kids generate exclamations of amazement and sounds of laughter, as they stand unsteadily on their legs, fall over, and get an encouraging lick from the mother goat.

They’re allowed to! One of the wonders of nature is the way goats stand on their legs minutes after birth, when they’re still wet and ragged. Their attempts at standing up are entertaining and moving. The mother, by the way, gives birth standing up, calmly and serenely (as goats are want to do, it seems). From time to time she licks the new-borns, checks what’s happening, and very quickly returns to munch hay. ‘The sheep’, says Najah Halabi, manager of the sheep and goat pen at Ramat Hanadiv, ‘are louder when they give birth, and they have a personality all of their own. They’re less disciplined and try to escape the pasture, but our herd is disciplined, and the sheep have learned from the goats, for example, how to eat while walking and not just while standing’.


During recent weeks we’ve been feeling the circles of life and everything they bring with them, in the goat and sheep pen

אריאלה מתנדבת בדיר עם יונית העזה המבוגרת
Ariella & Yonit

Days of excited beginnings and closure

During recent weeks we’ve been feeling the circles of life and everything they bring with them, in the goat and sheep pen. Mothers and babies live with full board in the nursery: cute kids born only one hour, three days, or one week ago, together with pregnant goats and sheep who don’t join the daily grazing trip (the length of a sheep or goat pregnancy is about five months). The young ones marked with a blue collar also stay home until they become stronger and are ready to join the herd. The process of weaning the goats and sheep from nursing (after 45 days) is a stage in itself. Often the young ones still find their mother and nurse from her even after they’ve been weaned. Najah tells us that there is a six-month-old female kid in the pen at the moment who still nurses from her mother. She’ll be weaned when her mother gets pregnant again; until then she is spoilt just like a baby.

Speaking of pregnancy and birth, it has happened that a pregnant goat goes out to graze, since the staff of the goat and sheep pen thought she still had time, and then surprises everyone and gives birth in the Nature Park.

In this case we send out the ‘goat ambulance’ (as Najah calls the ranger that drives in the field) to bring her and her new-borns home in comfort and safety and not delay the herd.


The circle of our life and of nature is stronger than us and it’s an anchor to hold onto.


New kids and lambs are joining the nursery, with great celebration. Naturally, some new-borns don’t survive. The mature goats also don’t live for ever. Two weeks ago great-grandmother Yonit passed away after passing the age of 12 (a very old age for a goat) and raising a glorious dynasty. Yonit retired long ago and was loved by Ariella Palner, who has been volunteering in the pen for 11 years and got to know her from a young age. ‘Yonit had a special personality. Sometimes she’d put her head out for a pat. She stood out in the herd because of her grey coat. We both had grey hair’, she laughs, and relates that Yonit’s progeny are also grey and bear a strong resemblance to her.

Not all the goats in the pen have names, but one of them was given the nickname ‘the volunteer’. ‘She always jumped ahead before going out to graze to get the GPS collar, and loved the role’, relates Najah, who reminds us that the herd at Ramat Hanadiv grazes in the Nature Park according to an organized grazing program and is movements are monitored.

The lamb will return to its mother

The herd goes out to graze each day for four hours (8:00 am to 12:00 pm), after the morning milking and before the afternoon milking. On the day we visited the pen, Gerry Haberman, the shepherdess, returned with the gang (about 200 individuals) after their daily nibble of the shrubs and immediately asked, ‘Nu, was there a birth?’ The positive answer brought both joy and relief, because when she went out in the morning she saw that the intended mother was not looking the best. Now she went to visit her in the nursery and treated her to fresh water and a loving caress.

The goats and sheep returned together, but instead of going straight inside they attacked a pile of fresh mastic tree prunings that had been placed opposite the pen, ‘as if they didn’t just eat for four hours’, said Najah affectionately.

After dessert, the herd crowded into the pen, with much pushing and cute bleating. A mother sheep lead them, entering determinedly and bleating in a loud voice when she saw her little lamb on the other side of the fence run towards her when the nursery gate was opened. At the sight of the emotional reunion, we were reminded of the words of Leah Goldberg’s song, Erev Mul HaGilad (An Eve Before Mount Gilad), which currently pull the strings of every heart in Israel.

טלה שוכב על האדמה

So heavy are the trees,
Their fruit stretches the fabrics.
It is now the calming hour,
In which children fall asleep.
Down to the valley from The Gilad
Descended a tender, black little lamb,
A bleating sheep cries in the pen –
It was her little son which went lost.
The lamb shall return his mother’s embrace,
Lay down in the pen and fall sleep
And the sheep shall kiss him
And call him by name.

The circle of our life and of nature is stronger than us and it’s an anchor to hold onto.



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