You greet them on your good days and your bad ones too. You consider their health and well-being every day. You understand what makes them suffer, gives them comfort and you know the games they play. To keep yourself from getting kicked in the ribs or rammed in the head, you get very smart about what upsets them. It’s a relationship, no question.
You also learn the unique personalities and even sheep have them. I have some boring types, some dumb ones, a few sweethearts and sillies, some are great mom’s, some like to bully, but one was really unique.
She nearly died that first year giving birth to quadruplets. I spent nights in the pen assisting the vet, my husband finally got her to stand and my mother pestered her into walking around the barn until her health resumed. Quads and a near-death experience, she was immediately legendary. She even made the papers.
She was brave, stern, prolific, honest and generous with me.
When I was tired, weak or fearful, I would find her staring at me, like a wise grandmother waiting for the child to get through her snit.
She was patient but unsympathetic - reminding me that I don’t get to control everything and that I’d better get used to it.
Her last days were like her early ones. Down in the pen. But her energy and her demeanor never wavered. She met death with pragmatic elegance. Even if she couldn't stand, no barn dog would get near her food. She let me ease her pain as she coped with the body's unwillingness to let go. She waited for me to come to the barn one more time and then she went.
Great relationships are special but not easy.
Pay attention and I’ll help you manage.
You don’t get to control much – get over it.
I’ll show you what grace is.
I’ll show you how to die.
I get a lot of benefits from my animals, greatwool, hilarious moments, feelings of accomplishment. But this animal taught me how to be a good shepherd and a better human being -even more blessing from the barn.