December 14, 2011 12:00 PM

When Ashton Shepherd’s 6-year-old son James found out his mom was having a baby, he didn’t take big brotherhood lightly. “He went to almost every doctor’s appointment with us and loved seeing the ultrasound,” Shepherd says. “He loved knowing he was going to have a little sister.”

Since Raden Delilah was born Sept. 9, the siblings’ bond has remained tight. James joined his parents (dad Roland Cunningham is a farmer) and new sister for a night in the hospital, and the whole family shares a bedroom in their single-wide trailer home in Leroy, Ala. (pop. 911). “Maybe one day they’ll each have their own room, but for now we’re all happy together,” says Shepherd, 25.

Though her days recently have been filled with “feedin’ and burpin’ and rockin’ and changin’ and dressin’ and bathin’,” Shepherd relishes having family close after a whirlwind year in which she released her second album, Where Country Grows, just two months before Raden’s birth. “The other night we were all in the living room watching Lion King, and I was rocking Raden,” she says. “She looked at me and knew she was with Mama and she was safe. It’s indescribable, that kind of love.”

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