Wednesday, January 9, 2013

A Story of Sheep, Friends, and Form

I have a friend named Connie.  We’ve been awesome friends for almost 28 years, as best we can remember. (Hey, who counts?) I love this woman.  She puts up with me, ThatManILove, my sons and my dogs and sticks by us closer than glue.  She's amazing.

I also have a young friend named Brooke.  You’ve seen her before on this blog.  She writes cookbooks.  She bakes.  She competes in lots of divisions in her local 4H club in photography, cooking, stock showing, lots of disciplines. She’s 11, almost 12.  We’ve been friends since Brooke was 1.5 years old. Not that I’m counting. Brooke is amazing, too.

Labor Day weekend found ThatManILove working.  Brooke and her family going out of town to a stock show.  Connie, in town.  We made plans to do dinner and hang out a bit.

Add unexpectedly, to the weekend, the fact that Brooke and her family needed a sheep sitter.  And they asked me. And since ThatManILove was out of town, I didn’t ask him, I just said, “Okay.  Leave me a list. Tell me where all the food is.  And keep your phone by your side in case I have questions.”  Elder Son showed steers in his youth, I know the drill.

It’s Friday.  I end up working late, until about 8:30 p.m..  And I’m not feeling very good.  As I leave the office, I thought, “I’d better take someone with me, it’s dark out there in those barns, and what if something happens?”

So, I call my friend, Connie.  And being the good friend she is, she puts down whatever she was working on (because you can bet she’s working) and treks out to the sticks with me.

Now Connie is a teeny tiny thing.  Last year, at the Dillard’s sale, she bought size 0 Antonio Melani pants.  (I’m still pissed about it.  I mean, who wears a size zero? Yeah.  My friend, Connie.  The heifer.) (Heifer is a term of endearment in our house, in case you're beginning to get your panties in a wad.  If you wear panties. But, I digress.)

We get out to Brooke’s, and figure out the automatic gate. We’re in!  We go look at the sheep.

We count the sheep.  I think, no, I know I heard Connie curse, without using any really bad curse words, quickly but profusely, in a very low voice.  And I think I heard my name in there. 

There are 16 sheep and 2 goats.  Two barn cats, and a brand new rescue kitten.  Spread out over several pens, and several acres.  And it’s dark.  Really, really dark. Did I tell you it was dark?

She looks at me, and says, (sounding amazingly like ThatManILove) “Oh...Jaaaaaanie.”

Outside of every pen, there is a white board.  And on every white board, there is a lamb tag number, and feeding directions per each tag number.  Each lamb and each goat gets a different amount, and sometimes, a different type of food.  And then, hay.  And water.

Realization sets in.  Connie and I look at each other, and she smiles and shakes her head.  “Janie, the stuff you get me in to...I swear.”

We get busy.  I go to the feed room, have to call Brooke’s parents to see which feed is which, and start hauling buckets out.

We get to pen one.  I go into the pen, open the feeding troughs, try my best to herd only one lamb into each trough, then close the feeding pen.  I come out of the big pen, and start measuring out what’s on the white board for that big pen of lambs.  And then, I realize, we can’t see the tag numbers.

Because it’s too freakin’ dark.

I start trying to grab ear tags.  As I reach down, the lamb backs up, and I’m trying to catch it, all the while holding my iPhone, for light.  I try, and try again. It’s not working.

Connie’s trying to climb up on the fence.  Remember, she’s little.  Tall, but  way lean. She gets up on the fence, balances her belly on the top bar, and leans waaaaaaay over to try to grab an ear tag, while I’m shining my mobile phone on the tag.

I get tickled.  I know one wrong move, and she’s tumped head first over that fence, right into that sheep trough.

She, then, gets tickled.  And then she realizes we have 15 more sheep to feed, after we figure out which one is in this particular trough.  Connie reaches down (by her looong stretch, she could have played basketball in high school), grabs that lamb tag, and screams “35!  It’s 35!  What’s this one’s name?”

It’s Atlas...or something like that.  (Heck, it was so traumatic, I can't remember now.) So I look up that lamb's feed, measure it out, and pour it into its trough.  And all of a sudden, we’re on a roll.  We're a lean, mean, feeding machine. We go through each name:  Tonto, Mater, Southern Belle, and onwe can't forget Cupcake, who had special food!  Connie balances on the top rail, leans in, I'm shining my mobile phone on the tag, and we’d feedBlackfoot,  Blue Duct...I can’t remember all their names, but we finally got it done.  

Then, we had to hay.  And water.   And since it was so hot, we sprayed down the dirt in each pen.  Repeated the same thing with the goats.  The cats.  The new kitty.  All.In.The.Dark. By the light of our mobile phones.

We finally finished, knowing I had to be back out there at 8:30 a.m. for a complete rerun.    We backed out of the driveway, closed the automatic gate, and looked at each other and laughed.

We then, smelling amazingly like sheep poop, stopped by the convenience store so Connie could buy lottery tickets.  

It’s Friday night, people.  And there are all these beautiful people, dressed in their date clothes, going in and out of the store. We’re in the “high cotton” part of town.  You can see the customers surreptitiously sniffing the air, like “What’s that odor?”  I thought we were never going to get out of that store before someone we knew walked in and recognized us...and then smelled us.  Or vice-versa.

Yeah.  It’s not a good idea to wear tennis shoes to feed sheep...because sheep poop gets into every crevice of the bottom of those shoes.  

And funny enough, Connie found something she absolutely had to do and I don’t think I heard from her the rest of the weekend.

Now, I want to show you what Connie got me for Christmas.  The heifer.

But before I do?  I’d like to say something.

Connie, I love you, girl.  And I can still visualize your skinny butt and long legs, your perfectly (before this adventure) white tennis shoes, balancing on that top rail, feet angled up in the air, your head pointed down into the feed trough,  and and your arms outstretched like a high board diver, grabbing that lamb tag, then the next...over and over and over again.  

Olympians would pay millions to have that form.  Maybe not the sheep poop shoes, but that perfect form.  I think about it one time, and laugh so hard! I am still cracking up about it.

You Baaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhh-d girl.  Thanks for the cool bootsAND the note! 


  1. On a farm.
    In a barn.
    Animals all around.
    There was NO flashlight in the barn?

  2. What an adventure! Who knew sheep feeding would entail such details! LOVE the boots though! You can feed my sheep in those any day.

  3. Those soles look a little to rough for easy cleaning . No smooth soled ones around?


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