Friday, August 03, 2007


Last summer my daughter raised sheep for the first time. She had two docile lambs who came up to her, nuzzling close every time she got near them and behaved like the snowy-fleeced animals made famous in the childhood song about Mary.

This year....a completely different story. From the moment her Vo Ag teacher put them into the pen, these sheep have behaved like wild banshees in the midst of cyclonic weather. Every time someone would get near them they would run into their hut and turn their backs, thinking that if they couldn't see us, we couldn't see them. My husband would have to climb in after them and use every ounce of strength to drag their kicking, flailing bodies out so we could put on the halters. My daughter was discouraged and nervous that they would prove more than she could handle. At just over 100 pounds, she was no match for them.

But she persevered. Climbing into their pen she would sit on an upturned bucket, talking softly to them, despite the fact that they seemed to ignore her.

Then gradually, she was able to catch them on her own and they seemed to know that they needn't struggle while she adjusted their halters. She began walking them one at a time through the grassy lanes of our country roads and they would Baa pathetically as they plodded along.

Now she is able to walk them together and they obediently follow along as her soothing voice tells them all is well. Though no one else can go near them, they seem to know they are safe in her presence.

Her teacher tells her they are simply dumb animals who don't respond to kind words and a soft hand. And even though she's no expert herself - and more city than country - the proof is in the pudding; the product of her patience.


Mike said...

I never really buy the "dumb animals" thing. But this is coming from the "dr. dolittle of dogs!". :-)

I think animals respond to calmness and confidence. I have seen it many times in dog training where the dog acts exactly like the most cases like a mental patient! :-)

Good for your daughter!

Mike said...

ps....another new profile pic....geez more stalkers will be on the way! :-)

McSwain said...

Yes! And isn't that what Jesus has to do with some of us? He just sits there, softly talking to us as we run about wildly... until we're finally ready to listen.

Robert said...

Hi Lori, Thanks for dropping by and leaving your comment. I've bookmarked your blog and look forward to reading your posts. Cheers

martie said...

The experts don't know EVERYTHING obviously......sometimes the expert is the one working with the individual animal......most animals (and people) respond much better to calmness and quiet rather than confusion and yelling!

So, will "Mary and her little lambs" be taken to the fair?

Lori said...

Yes, the fair is this week. And of course the forecast calls for very hot temps. She's out walking them as I type, and they are a filthy mess!

Anonymous said...

Lori, this brought back memories of my brothers' days in 4-H. They raised sheep for several years, and one summer when I was very young, I thought I'd "help" them by adding a new salt lick to the sheep pen. I forgot to close the door tight and the sheep escaped. It was just three days from showtime.

Long story short: a neighbor found them nibbling grass in his back lot. Brought them home and my neck was spared.

Would you email me ASAP? I need to give you info about the book. :-)

alan said...

I never believed the dumb animals thing either...last night Dottie told Frankie to bring her his collar, gone for two days; 20 minutes later it was lying on the kitchen floor where he usually presents his bugs after he kills them, lol!

Lovely photos!