This morning Joshua, one of my original Jacob sheep, who will be 11 this summer, was obviously ailing. The arthritis is exacerbated by the fact that it is 8 degrees out even though it’s March, and he was disinclined to hold his ground to eat chicken feed out of the snow with his able-bodied barn mates. He laid down, shivering, in the barn. When everyone else was sorted out, I threw a fleece blanket over him and snuck him some chicken feed on the side. Of course we were immediately discovered by the donkey and Esme, the lead female goat, past whom no grain slips. In the course of running her off, I disturbed Joshua, so he got up and limped out into the barn yard, where the sight of him in his green fleece was a shock and awe moment for the flock. I took advantage of this brief disruption in space-time to feed him a crumb of donkey painkiller hidden in a waffle. Shout-out to my daughter for leaving a waffle in the freezer last time she went back to college.
The cast of characters has changed here since the early days of this blog. The husband is gone, the kids are away at college, the corgis and the fat gray cat are dead. Earlier this week my friend Eliza sent me a post from StoryCorps about a woman who came home from the wars and started a sheep farm to help her manage her PTSD, because the sheep react to her state of mind, so she can use that feedback to stop and look at her own spirit when it needs realignment. Eliza said it reminded her of me. I didn’t get into the question of why, probably because I don’t want to know. But we agreed with the farmer’s quote from the Navajo: dibé bé iiná. Sheep is life. “No matter what’s smoldering…the animals need to be fed.”
There was a doctor on Fresh Air last night, talking about orchid children and dandelion children—the more biologically reactive to stress, and the less so, who take things more in their stride. My friend in Vermont thought she was an orchid, and I thought maybe I was a dandelion. Or maybe a fighting orchid. This morning I think I am a fighting orchid with sheep. It would be nice to be a domestic orchid in a good home, but given the vagaries of human life, you'd be better advised to use your sensitive wiring to figure out where to throw down your taproot and start pumping life out of the lawn.
P.S. The meds have kicked in, and the patient is eating hay, still wearing the robes of glory.