Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Double Entendre

Last night, just before dark, I heard the sound of calling sheep. I've lived alongside sheep for years now and over that time I have acquired an ear for what all the different bleats, baas, and cooing mean. This was an all out holler, translated roughly into English:

"Heeeeeeeeey, heeeeey! Hey guys outside the fence! We want to be outside the fence with you tooooo. Heeeeeyyyyyy!"

The sigh I let go of must have weighed six pounds. I was inside, having just finished the last of the milking dishes and had just swept the living room floor. Sweeping the floor is the last chore of the night, something done more out of habit than necessity. The beautiful handmade broom was a gift from my good friend, Raven Pray, of Maryland. Sweeping the last of the dirt, dog hair, and grass clippings stuck in upturned pant legs is the chore that says, "Okay kid, you can sit down now." And that is what I was doing. I must have been teasing fate because the sheep had escaped, were certainly in the public road by this point, and I had to get dressed and head back outside. Goodbye fire. Shut up, mocking broom.

It was colder out, around forty degrees with wind and the weather report was calling for frost. This had me in a frustrated mood. Chores took longer than usual this afternoon while I went about the extra work of watering and then covering all the garden beds I wanted full clemency for. I could see the sheep behind the fences, up in the woods and along the thick bushes and brush by the roadside. I stood outside my house by the lamppost and called to the sheep. "Come here you wooly bags of dim suet!" I yelled, copying the insult from a favorite book. And then the parade headed towards me.

Maude was in front. In her full wool coat she bounced down the hill, the crescent moon above her. Behind her in a perfect goose V were six other escapees. They all trotted with heads high, horns gleaming lamp light, and fluffy coats. I would have been angry with them if they weren't so damn beautiful. Maude stopped a few paces ahead of me, having seen no evidence of grain. I put my hands on my hips and stared at her. She looked away.

"Can we please stay inside until daybreak? Please." And I grabed a bag of chick feed to lead them back into the main gates by the horse's paddock. Merlin and Jasper watched the parade behind me, giving me their own heckles for rewarding acts of anarchy. One by one the sheep came back inside the fence to join Sal and the Cotswolds who didn't escape. Then in the near black of real nightfall I walked up the hillside repairing holes and hatches in the poor quality fencing. What I needed was a clean, fresh, string of electric wire right at nose level. I had a new grounding rod on order at the hardware store and plans to do it this week. But for now it's all about reaction and repairs. I did what I could and prayed it would make it till morning. The last thing I needed was a school bus driver beating on my door to tell me to move my livestock out of the road.

This morning, they of course escaped again. Three times. And right now this blog post is the first writing I have done all day. That's a crime and a pity with two weeks to a manuscript deadline. But a woman needs to vent, so there you go.

There may be frost in the air but as far as the sheep are concerned, it's time to spring.