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No Joy in Mudville

June 29, 2011

It was a black blob. Lying in the meadow just beyond our lawn. A wire fence separated us. Tall weeds shielded it. I had an idea what it was, but I didn’t want to admit it.

Our little cottage is surrounded by three meadows: the gently sloping south meadow, bordered by a lovely stone house, ancient trees, hedges and gardens; the adjacent west meadow that parallels our coach house and has a burial mound at its top (not people, just building refuse), and the north meadow that rises from the west and leads to a stand of trees where our (no, they’re not ours, but their welfare has become our watch)  sheep tuck under for a bit of shade during their afternoon naps.

Rotating in and out of our meadows are three sheep families. Beige mama has two little beige babies who have eaten their way through the pastures and are getting quite chubby. Black sheep mama #1 has two little black sheep babies and black sheep mama #2 has two brilliantly white baby lambs that Paul watched being born (whereupon he immediately sent out birth announcements.) Genetics played a hand here.

Babies at Play

Our little families move from meadow to meadow, filling their bellies, lying idly in the sun, monitoring a “kid-der garten” of sorts as the little ones chase each other around and around and around. Bonking heads, mounting the one female and being chased away by mama, a little brown horn pushing its way upward on a little lamb head – these are our daily snippets of entertainment whenever we look out the window or walk out to the terrace.

They talk to us. We park our car in the gravel driveway and see little faces baa-ing away. They’re telling us about their day. Complaining about the grass. Wondering where their pals are. Or just saying hello.

They’re not particularly beautiful. In fact, the mamas are kind of scruffy and unkempt. But they have gotten under our skin and we’ve learned from them. They know who their babies are. They guard them. Guide them. And the babies trail close behind whenever mama moves to a different part of the meadow.

One afternoon when I was away, Paul heard a continuous baaaaaa outside near the terrace. One of the beige babies had found his way into our backyard and needed Paul’s help. Grandpa Paul led him around to the meadow gate and reunited him with his family, stepping in a pile of poo along the way. Oh, the things you forgive when you have children.

We’ve been offered the opportunity to purchase a spring lamb, butchered and ready to eat. I don’t know if I could eat it, having become emotionally attached to our animal families who live outside. It’s like fishing. I can’t eat what I catch. Or chickens. I can’t eat what I saw living a few minutes before. No. No spring lamb for me.

I emailed our landlord about the black blob. Within an hour the farmer had been alerted and had discovered the dead sheep. It seemed a dog had gotten to her. How, I don’t know.  Why? Well, it’s the country, isn’t it? Animals do what animals do. It’s called nature. But in our little corner of Wales, where the hills are green and the mountains poke their heads out of the valleys, where melodious voices reach out of the valleys and where ancient temples still stand – in our little corner of heaven, today, there is no joy in Mudville.

My thanks to the poet Ernest Lawrence Thayer’s “Casey at Bat.”

 

 

 

 

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. Kate Holly permalink
    June 30, 2011 7:46 am

    😦 Poor little lamb, that’s so sad!

  2. July 1, 2011 2:30 pm

    Oh Jann, that’s so sad about the baby! I know how attached you can get to farm animals, I used to have chickens and couldn’t imagine eating any of them. It must be great to see the antics of the sheep everyday, just watching animals graze in a pasture can be very relaxing.
    When I stay with Gary I love taking pictures of the black faced sheep up in Ingram valley, they look wild and beautiful. I’m sad I missed all the lambs this year.

  3. July 26, 2011 11:44 pm

    JANN, HOW COULD YOU LET THE WILD POOCH GET TO THE LITTLE LAMB. YOU SHOULD BE ASHAMED OF YOURSELF.
    ‘BABA BLACK SHEEP, HAVE YOU ANY WOOL?’
    I GUESS THE DOG THOUGHT SO!

    Bring me up to date on what you have been up to.

    YOUR DC FRIEND. I HAVE LOTS AND LOTS OF NEWS

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