Saturday, April 11, 2009

Lambless in Spring

Last fall we sold our flock of Cheviot sheep and this is the first spring in 18 years that we haven't had lambs. My husband Doug can attest to how great it was not to worry about lambs being born in snowstorms (and having to rescue newborns when their afterbirth froze them to the ground--yikes!). A winter without middle-of-the-night breech births was bliss. But a spring without lambs gamboling in the pasture seems sadly lacking. Our Border collies Wink and Nell think so too and keep staring through the woven-wire fence at the horses and donkeys with wistfullness and memories of a good chase. To keep the dogs happy (and Doug too), we're getting a few lambs this spring. More on the new additions later...

1 comment:

  1. Aww. Wink and Nell need some wee wooly charges.

    Makes me sad to think of them without a favorite job. It's especially heartbreaking for me because it reminds me of my beautiful red girl the last time she went to her herding class.

    Herding was Scout's favorite activity in the entire world. I didn't have any property at the time, so we worked with a trainer a couple miles up the highway and used her stock. We would also attend local trials and occasionally take home a title or prize. Scout was not a working farm dog, but took her job as seriously as any dog I ever met.

    It was a hot day in June. I hadn't been to the farm in a month or so, because we had house guests and had traveled the previous weeks. As I pulled up the drive to our trainer's farm, Claudia met us at the gate. I'd already let Scout out because she was like a shaken can of sodapop, nearly bursting with excitement. Her routine was to shoot like a rocket up the driveway for the big arena gate. There, she'd wait impatiently for her lazy mistress and her turn at the stock. All the while her ears twitching, ducking and dodging with body english as she watched other dogs work.

    Claudia waved over the gate to me; "It's too hot to work today, hun. Too hard on the sheep.".

    So I called Scout from the car, but she just hollered a high-pitched "Yip!" back at me from the arena gate. She was always willful and full of sass, but it was one of the few times she did not obey my call. I actually had to park, get out of the car, and leash her to get her back into the car - and she protested loudly the entire time. A visit to Claudia's without a single moment of work? The outrage! Once back in the car, Scout pitched a full-on temper tantrum, barking at me, then at Claudia until the inside of her window was coated with spittle. I had never seen her like this, but it revealed just how much she enjoyed working and how much she must have lived for it. On the drive home, she barked at Claudia's farm through the back window the entire way. There was no consoling her mood once we got home, either.

    Shortly after that day I became very seriously ill, and was no longer able to work with my beautiful dogs. Scout's new job was to take care of me. A job done well, but one she likely never relished. By the time I fully recovered, long days had stretched into months and years, and Scout was a weary, grey-bearded old gal who could no longer see or get around very well. She never had a chance to herd again after that hot June day years before.

    We lost her a couple years ago to cancer, but I have a thousand fond memories of her, as well as those few bitter regrets.

    I'm glad to hear Nell and Wink will have some lambs soon! Looking forward to news about them.