Beulah has a little lamb

By Rachel Robles, Lifestyles editor | Aug 12, 2014
Photo by: Rachel Robles ANNIE THE LAMB — Chris Smith, left, and Beulah Rathbone stand with Annie the lamb. Rathbone became Annie's adopted mother after Annie was rejected by her mother at birth.

Beulah Rathbone, 70, acquired an unusual pet earlier this year — a lamb that had been rejected by its mother.

“Never in all my life did I ever think I would be raising a lamb,” said Rathbone.

A sheep belonging to her neighbor and friend, Greg Wishart, gave birth to Annie and her twin sister in the late night hours Feb. 5, 2014, or the early morning hours of Feb. 6, 2014. Rathbone went to the barn to help Wishart’s son, Ilya, with the lambs. The mother had rejected one of them, so Rathbone tried to bottle-feed her with a bottle and lamb formula purchased from Tractor Supply. When the lamb rejected the bottle, one of Rathbone’s grandsons bought a regular baby bottle from Dollar General and the lamb took it.

Rathbone then called Wishart’s wife, Lana, and asked if it would be okay for her to bring the lamb — whom she named Orphan Annie — into her house because the barn was so cold and the mother wanted nothing to do with her newborn.

“I didn’t have any intentions of keeping Annie, but little did I know I was soon to become her adopted mother,” said Rathbone.

After a couple of days, Rathbone asked Wishart if he would be willing to sell or give  Annie to her because a neighbor had witnessed the lamb being knocked around by her mother and the other sheep in the field.

“I took Annie in to protect her from her own family,” said Rathbone. “I tried taking her back to the field several times but they did not want any part of her. She is an example of how Jesus was and still is rejected today in the world.”

Rathbone sees Annie as an example of Christ’s life — when Jesus, the Lamb of God, was born his family had to flee the murderous wrath of King Herrod. Annie, like Christ, was born and rejected by her own kind.

Wishart told Rathbone that Annie needed to be in the field around other sheep so she would learn to act like a sheep and not want to be around people. Rathbone would take Annie out to the field but Annie would beat Rathbone back to the gate. Eventually, Rathbone tied Annie to a post in the field and went back home.

“I cried all the way to the field and back,” said Rathbone.

Wishart untied Annie and put her in the field, and when Ilya went to feed the sheep, she saw the other sheep picking on her in the field.

“I watched this from a distance, just as Peter did when Jesus was abused.” said Rathbone. “When I saw the ram pick her up and sling her, I told Ilya to get her for me. She came running to me and seemed to be saying, ‘Why did you leave me? I still love you.’ Jesus still loved Peter though Peter denied him.”

Since Annie’s birth, she and Rathbone have “loafered a lot” — she has visited Lakeview Church of the Nazarene, the Youth Band Camp at The Salvation Army, schools and a nursing home as a “therapy lamb.” More recently, Rathbone and Annie participated in a special needs day at the Haywood County Fairgrounds to honor the life of Desilyn Tae Sherrill. Annie was a big hit.

And she’s had a positive impact on Rathbone’s life as well. Since getting Annie, Rathbone’s previous high blood pressure has returned to normal and she has been able to come off of two medications.

At around 6-months old, Annie now spends most of her time in the fields with the other sheep, as they no longer pick on her. She happily greets Rathbone at the fence and follows her around the house when she’s not in the field.

“I needed her and she needed me,” said Rathbone.