It has been a very bad week for me as a writer. I have two stories due on Thursday, and the editors have not been kind to them. I have a lot of rewriting to do in the next few days. I do what I can to meet the demands of the editors, even if they seem a bit strange. So as a respite, I will change subjects.
The picture of me at the side of this blog is “KB with the Chicken of Death.” Well, she did nibble on my finger a bit. Behind me is a pen with two sheep in it. The chickens are borrowed, but the sheep belong to the museum where I volunteer. We have ten sheep at each of two sites. My job as a volunteer is to keep the sheep healthy and reasonably content.
Five mornings and three evenings a week I feed them, and check them for bumps and bruises. I watch them walk to see if any are lame or can’t get up. If their feet hurt they will eat lying down or on their front knees. I make sure each gets a turn at the food and the dominant ones don’t bully the submissive ones too much.
I count them. Now, I have never fallen asleep counting sheep, but the routine of watching them is only a little more exciting than watching paint dry or grass grow. It is very clear to me that once the glow of first acquaintance has worn off, sheep are pretty boring.
Usually I toss out their feed, and they form clumps of three or four around each scoopful. This morning when I fed them, they each thought the other guy’s food was better than theirs. They never held still for a minute. First count: 8 sheep. Second count: 7 sheep. Third count: 10 sheep. I usually stop counting when I get the right number, but since I hadn’t hit it in several counts, I kept going. Fourth count: 8. Fifth count…When I got ten again, maybe counting the one behind the post twice, I gave up and went to work. No one was lame, no one was hurt. No one was much interested in me. Nobody wanted nose rubs. And nobody was fighting with anyone else or trying to push the fence over.
I was more concerned than I usually am because we may be expecting lambs around the first of September. Due to a set of unusual circumstances, I had to pen two rams with the ewes over night around Easter.
Babies at this time of year are not unheard of. We have a sheep named after their birth months, August and April. Left to their own devices, babies are born January and February, and some in March. We have always gone for lambs in March or April, which gives us cute smiling babies for the tourist season. Lambs are born smiling and they stay smiling for their babyhood. That’s part of why they are so appealing.
If I count sheep all morning, I should be more relaxed when I pick up my manuscripts again.