Friday, August 21, 2009

back to three

It was around 6:30 in the evening when I was leaning against the back hatch of the Subaru, shielding my eyes from the sun. I was in a Petco parking lot in Rutland. I kept checking the time. Any minute now a green Ford Ranger was going to pull to join me in the rendezvous. I was excited, couldn't help it. The farm would soon be back to three sheep: a proper small flock. Sheep are not animals meant to be paired. They need family. Three was the magic number, indeed.

To pass time I went into the pet store to buy biscuits and two cans of dog food for Jazz and Annie. (Consolation prizes for their late dinner.) Lamb, of course. As someone who's trying to become a shepherd in the 21st century—I try to support the sheep industry with every purchase I make. I stopped buying polar fleece (a dog hair magnet, anyway) a long time ago. I'm a wool-girl now. And whenever lamb is available for dog food, I always buy it. No part of me felt guilty walking back out to the lot to meet my actual lamb. The only reason their species is still around in America is because of products like the ones in my bag. Also: socks, sweaters, lambchops and such. I'm pragmatic when it comes to the animals that raise me and try to make them as much a part of my life (and in this case, my dogs' lives) as possible. We know each other's purpose.

Soon Sara and her husband Chris pulled up. The cab of the truck also held their three-year-old son Warren and a smiling big-eared dog named Jack. On the back bed was a truck cap jury-rigged for livestock transportation. The windows had been removed on one side and held wire mess instead. In the corner of the bed a small black ball was curled up in the corner. He was so much smaller than I anticipated. Just 24" tall and a light fame. His dark face and chocolate wool were strikingly handsome. His expression: panicked. I told him we'd be home soon.

After handshakes, hugs, and paperwork I placed Desperado in the back of the station wagon. He cried and bleated, confused about the exchange and the new vehicle. He instantly started to defecate all over the back seat. "Yeah. Get comfortable." I said. A sheep pooping on plastic lining in my car doesn't even cause for a change in inflection anymore. This is just my Thursday night.

I really need a pickup truck.

Des (name change possibly pending to Joseph or Tobias) slept in the back while the four of us headed back into Southern Vermont. Mike and Phil were with me again, and as far as human travelers go, were very patient. Phil kept Des from hoping into the front seat as Mike and I talked up front. The ride home felt quick. We stopped for pizza and left the lamb alone in the car while we dined from an outdoor porch. All of assumed he would remain in the back hatch, and sleep where he lay.

When I got back out to the car forty-minutes later he was standing in the front passenger seat.

It was dark and late (for a homesteader) when I got back. I knew the adult sheep weren't ready for a new tenet at 10PM so I placed him in with Finn. Finn was overjoyed. He jumped and play-rammed the new lamb with his horns. Nothing harsh or dangerous: kid stuff. But the new guy was bleating and crying and seemed to want nothing to do with frivolity. I left them alone with hay, grain, and water and hoped the clatter would calm down soon. By now the adult sheep, goat, and chickens were all carrying on. Soon the flashlight beam of my neighbor Roy was on all of us. We were like a gang of kids tagging a cement wall, up to no good and caught in the thick of it. He told us he heard the commotion and wanted to check out the scene. I assured him all was well and thanked him. I felt a small pang of gratitude for a neighbor who'd venture out into the dark Vermont woods to check in on a neighbor's stock. I made a note that I really owed him a pie.

All through the night I went out to check on him. I didn't get much sleep. Finn's horns had traces of dark wool on them but both of the little guys seemed fine. Des was shaken up. He stood in the same spot in the back of the pen all night, but Finn stopped trying to get him to play. The move from farm-to-farm is a lot for a little guy. He just needs to hold out in for a few more hours.

This afternoon he'll get to meet the big kids—his new flock. And hopefully, in time, become a member of Cold Antler, as much as anything else out there surely is.

Okay, time to head back outside and haul water. Looks like it's going to be another hot one. The coffee's almost done and the light's starting to stream into the hollow. The backyard needs me. I can hear it crowing.

22 Comments:

Blogger Judy said...

Welcome to the neighborhood Des. You'll do just fine. You have moved into a good home.

August 21, 2009 at 8:33 AM  
Blogger Maggie in Tally said...

He sounds adorable. Nice story.....BUT HOW'D THINGS GO WITH THE BANKERS?!

August 21, 2009 at 8:42 AM  
Blogger Rachel B. said...

He's so adorable! Congrats on your new fleecy one. I'm curious as well, how did it go with the bankers?

August 21, 2009 at 8:49 AM  
Blogger Jenna said...

they banker didn't show for the meeting, i need to go back on monday...

August 21, 2009 at 8:50 AM  
Blogger Tara said...

Awww, isn't he a sweet one? He'll settle in before you know it.

August 21, 2009 at 8:55 AM  
Blogger Jenn said...

Its awesome to have a neighbor like that. Your new addition is super cute.

August 21, 2009 at 9:31 AM  
Anonymous Shannan said...

Adorable, I am sure that he will fit in nicely. He could not have found a better home. My kids think that he looks like a stuffed animal. Congrats.

August 21, 2009 at 9:41 AM  
Blogger Mare said...

Can't wait to see how everybody gets along!

August 21, 2009 at 9:49 AM  
Anonymous Laura Gaskill said...

Welcome home Des (or Joseph or Tobias)!!! He is so, so cute. Too bad about the banker - gr!

August 21, 2009 at 9:49 AM  
Blogger Sarah Sanders said...

Welcome, Des!!!! Jenna, he's just adorable!!! Love his coffee coloring! :o) Can't wait to see how he adjusts to his new family - I'm sure he'll do great! Little ones adapt well...

Will hope for the best witht he banker!!!!!

August 21, 2009 at 10:04 AM  
Blogger P said...

the banker didn't show? whatta putz.

August 21, 2009 at 11:32 AM  
Blogger BJ Gingles said...

You really know you are a homesteader when a lamb pooping up your backseat is no cause for surprise or alarm. I'm sure he'll fit in fine once he sees how nice it is there. He's landed in clover all right. I wonder how (or if) Maude will welcome him.

August 21, 2009 at 11:33 AM  
Blogger Stephen said...

I must have missed some posts somewhere. Didn't you have three?

August 21, 2009 at 11:45 AM  
Blogger Melissa said...

He's cute as a button!

August 21, 2009 at 1:42 PM  
Blogger Karen Sue said...

If I was a lamb, I'd want to be at Cold Antler, he just doesn't know it yet. Once the music starts, it will all be very clear to Des. He does look quite squeezable.

August 21, 2009 at 2:11 PM  
Blogger Alexiajoy said...

Why did Marvin have to leave?

August 21, 2009 at 2:29 PM  
Blogger Jenna said...

marvin left a few weeks ago because his old owners, friends and fiddlers over in Hebron, wanted him back. They missed him, and so they took him back to his original home. I'll see him over labor day weekend at their bonfire party.

August 21, 2009 at 2:31 PM  
Blogger Alexiajoy said...

Oh, ok! It just surprised me because I thought you and Marvin had an affinity for each other. : )

August 21, 2009 at 3:47 PM  
Blogger Maggie in Tally said...

Them bastids! Don't they know how important this is???

August 21, 2009 at 4:55 PM  
Blogger Turtle said...

he is so sweet lookikng! yeah, what happened at the bank? oops, just caught up, bummer!

August 21, 2009 at 7:02 PM  
Anonymous Erica in San Jose said...

Jenna- I must re-state that he is adorable! And I vote for Tobias, it fits him (his picture at least)!

August 21, 2009 at 7:55 PM  
OpenID chickadeeworkshop said...

He looks wonderful and I'm sure he'll get adjusted to all the love and care he'll have. Good luck to you and Des.

August 21, 2009 at 9:21 PM  

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