After almost four years of this sheep gig, this is the conclusion I am coming to: Sheep + me = neon light flashing above my head that blares "this chick has no idea what she's doing!"
Back in June, we had to tag the lambs for the fair. This means we go up to Grandpa's house, load up the girl's lambs, and drive them down to the fairgrounds where we wait in really long line so the lambs can be weighed and tagged for the fair. This being before any of the kids have worked with the lambs very much- which basically results in a big 'ol ruckus. Courtney couldn't come, so I had Sam on my back, Claire in one hand, and Ryenne's lamb in the other (she couldn't come on account of her attending a "young females" activity). Awesome. Claire just so happened to be in one of those moods. Oh, and it was a gazillion degrees outside, so Mr. always-happy-Sam wasn't so happy. Thank goodness Grandpa was there is all I can say.
Well. The point I was going to make is that before we headed up to round up the lambs, I took a minute to ponder what I should wear for such an occasion. Being that in the past I have typically worn my Chaco sandals, only to be stepped on, pooped upon, and generally made to look like a nincompoop, I decided to be a little more prepared. Boots, thought I! And so. I tracked down the only set of sort-of chore boots that I own- a neon colored, flowered pair of rain boots. Practical and cute, I decided. Sure that Claire wouldn't be very happy if her bare little piggies were stepped on by a woolly beast, I held my ground and made her trade in her flip-flops for chore boots, too. Polka dotted and flowered, we were on our way.
Wouldn't you know it. I finally thought I had my farm footwear figured out, and everyone else bucked the trend. Guess they looked at the ninety-five degree weather or something. Here Claire and I were, sweating in our rubber boots- while the rest of the lamb- toting country folk looked on wondering what we were thinking. At least I wondered. Turns out, rain boots are HOT.
Yesterday. Where do I begin? It was a classic mom's sort-of-a-lamb-idiot kind of a day. First of all, it was raining. The girls were sure that unlike Gene Kelly, lambs don't sing in the rain, but I stood firm. "Onward!" I shouted. Once we got started, all was going well. An adventure, even! I held Claire's hand and watched as the girls giggled and danced amidst their four-legged friends. That is, until it was time to turn around. The problem is that Ryenne and Kate like to let their lambs run the whole way home, which freaks Emmy out because she can't keep up with her lamb once it starts running. That means either I take her lamb and try to rein in back in, or have Emmy in a full-blown freak-out the whole way home. If you've ever seen Emmy fall apart, you know which one I chose.
So, I'm walking along with Mr. furry bum, thinking I've got the whole thing under control when Ryenne and Kate turn around and start laughing their heads off. "That is soooo cute! You walk a lamb like you're walking a dog", they say. What? I don't even know what they're laughing at. They keep after it, poking fun and saying how they wished they had a camera so dad could see how I walk a lamb. Like it was the first time I'd ever done it or something.
We make it back, at which point the girls inform me that Emmy's lamb goes in a different pen (geez mom, don't you know anything?) Emmy opens the gate and casually points, making me think that this is the place. Patting myself on the back for a walk well done (despite what the girls said), I pull the halter off the lamb and let it go just as Emmy yells, "No, not that pen!" At that precise moment, her lamb bolts. It and about thirty or so other lambs. They take off on a dead run. Did I mention that the gate to the pasture was open? Oh, it sure was. And you can bet the whole herd (or whatever you call a bunch of sheep) took off into the pasture just as fast as they could go.
When Ryenne and Kate saw what I had done, they threw their hands up in the air and ordered me to follow them. To make a long story short, every time I did what I thought they wanted me to they either laughed their heads off or yelled in a fit of exasperation. What did they expect? How was I supposed to stand my ground when a whole grundle of big, fat sheep started running toward me at full speed. I was wearing Chaco's for heaven's sake! (wrong choice again). I had good intentions, but at the last minute I couldn't help myself from bolting. Hadn't anyone ever seen the movie BABE? I thought there were dogs that were supposed to do this sort of thing! Ryenne kept yelling, "No, No, NO!" and finally gave me a sassy smile and ordered, "Watch and LEARN."
Finally, one of the girls resorted to getting Grandpa to help instead, who shook his head and said that all he had gathered from Ryenne's explanation of the situation is that I looked like something out of an "I LOVE LUCY" episode. Finally, with his help, he and the older two wrangled the runaway lamb into a halter.
The whole spectacle reminded me of a time in high school shortly after Courtney and I had started dating.
One day after school (I'm guessing it was after school because I NEVER skipped out of school) we had gone to Fielding to Courtney's house to get something, only to find one of the lambs had gotten loose. I'd never dealt with anything like this before, and so I hung back waiting for my knight in shining armor to save the day. To this day, I've never been able to figure out if he really thought I could help or if the whole thing was part of a scheme to get a good laugh, but he told me to stand down at one end of the yard with my arms straight out, waving them up and down. I did just as he'd said, the whole time wondering what in the heck I was supposed to be accomplishing. But wave I did.
Now that I think about it, I'm sure his family laughed themselves through dinner that night.
At least the lamb whispering gene as been passed on to the girls, despite my ineptitude. One of grandpa's visitors watched them the other morning and remarked that they seem like "quite the girls- not afraid to get in and get their hands dirty, are they?" He may have noticed them throwing sheep poop (don't worry, they ensured me that they only use dried poop, not fresh). Or maybe he saw how excited Ryenne was to find the jawbone of an . . .'er, well, I'm not exactly sure.
I'm not too great at this country-girl business, remember?