Sunday, April 06, 2008

inside my mind







Hey! This is a new opportunity folks. You can see how a mind works.


I think I have told you about my first sheep.
They were a substitute for my mother, dear soul, who put up with me and my family for over 14 years. I know it was far more difficult for her to lose her independence and live with her daughter, than it was for her daughter and family to have another generation trying to fit in to a new home.

There were those typical age related problems. After 25 year in the city, I decided I wanted to move to the country. We bought a lovely farm....and after several mishaps, my mother was placed by me....her bad daughter...in a nursing home. I was, after all, a failure. I didn't keep my mother. I felt crushing guilt. I HAD to have something else to care for....something that would take all my waking and non-sleeping moments. I NEEDED sheep.
After buying my first three sheep, and letting them rule my life....I was hooked....I needed sheep. Sheep NEEDED me. My life was again justified by care-giving. The sheep couldn't get a drink of water, hay, grain, protection, they couldn't lamb unless I wiped the lamb's mouth so it didn't inhale fluids and die. I had to teach the little ones how to find their first drink....I gave them shots. I trimmed their hoofs....We got to our own retirement age...but I was not ready to live without my sheep. They defined my life....with sheep I had a purpose...a goal...value...work. So we moved all the sheep south. We bought lots of acres for them to graze on and had our own hay ground.
Surprise!
This new area that seemed so nice the first year developed droughts....three years in a row...now the hay that the sheep depended on was farther and farther away from the sheep. Dang.
OK....So I started to sell off my ewes, too many droughts, too many sheep....I sold pregnent ewes. Ewes with lambs. Flocks....singles....as many as I could. I dragged my little spotted wonders around to shows. I had web pages, I even finally had business cards made.
I'm not complaining. I did what I wanted. I started a flock of sheep who started to have spotted lambs. I worked on getting lots of different spots. Nothing was boring....most were not plain.
We had an incredible year in 2007. Most of the lambs were spotted, most were ewes, almost all were sold. OK....I was looking forward to another year of selling ewes down. Adding lambs to the mix. Sell those sheep. They don't really need me...they just need someone.
Surprise again!
Notice I haven't even complained about the big kitty that seems to find my sheep and invite them to lunch. I can deal with that. I just don't go in the woods without a gun. A few sheep to make a poor kitty happy. I don't mind. But this winter, we had winter. Not just ordinary snow...although we had that too. We had ice. Ice is quite different from snow. For one thing it's hard. Being an experienced care-giver, I know what can happen to old bones when they fall on ice. I was terrified! I had to go to the barn to feed sheep. The ground was covered with ice. The sheep couldn't walk either. The second problem with our home was that we became totally isolated in bad weather. We were in the valley until the road grader came our way. How ever many days that took.
OK. I remember winter. You get provisions before a storm. We learned to keep plenty of food on hand. Not knowing wheather the next storm would drop rain or ice or snow. Sometimes we could drive thru the low-water crossings, but trees blocked our way. Call the road grader again. Sometimes the electricity went out too....no water...no microwave...no computer...no TV. Once the phone went out....no road...no phone...but we did have electricity! Yaay...and food too.

I mentioned the last-straw.
The straw was the two or three day storm that flooded missouri and arkansas....it came when my sheep.....you remember my sheep? They were pg! More surprises....even tho crowded into the barn by rising waters....my girls still wanted to give birth. And give birth, and give BIRTH!
Lambs everywhere....jugs inside of jugs. 10 bales of hay, five bales of hay....how long before we could drive out to get more hay? Argh!
I've had enough. The universe is trying to tell me something....OK already! I hear you.

I'm not going to breed sheep again.
I am no longer defined by being a shepherd.
I still feel guilty about abandoning my mother....but sheep can't make that go away. However the weather here has been threatening. I see an end to my ability to rise above the ice...the rising waters.
I am no longer thinking like a shepherd.

I know my sheep and my sheep know me.
I have been trying for several weeks to find new homes for my children, my sheep. If I find them a new home, they will not blame me for ruining their lives by not careing about them any more. The guilt continues.

How cruel can an X-shepherd be? Can she leave the sheep long enough to find out who she really is? I've made great progress over the years. I might wipe a sheep nose, but I no longer find them their first meal. You are on your own kid. I no longer feel obligated to hold dying lambs. I might lay them safely in the corner by their moms and let them pass. I'm not in charge of defects...of birthing accidents....they are no longer my fault.
I have helped 531 shetland lambs into this world. I've lost quite a few too. I expect they will meet me when I leave this world.

I'm proud of my sheep lines. I worked for many years to develop spotted sheep. I did it the old-fashioned way. Cuz, I am an old fashioned girl.
Well, Sheepies. too bad there isn't a nursing home I can ship you to. ...I need to have some time without taking care of you.
We are almost done with lambing. There are a few old friends who have reserved some lambs. I'll try to take care of them until you get them. Some nice folks have offered to take some ewes....but I don't know yet what I will be doing this summer. With all the rain we have had there should be some grass....I can find some local auctions or put an ad in the paper.

I'll let my old girls stay on...the dogs take good care of them. We'll see if the sheep can find a life without me. They maybe didn't NEED me anyway. I just thought they did.
I'm thinking about beaches. Nice warm sandy beaches...without a baa in the world.
So now that I am feeling better, and everyone else is totally confused....



4 Comments:

At 7:28 PM, Blogger Rayna said...

*hugs*

 
At 2:38 PM, Blogger Karen B. said...

I get it-you're exhausted... As well you should be. Your weather troubles have been daunting. Keep thinking beaches and beautiful days of travel. I'm coming to get my new lambs! Don't worry, you're doing just fine by your sheep. And you did a fine job with your mother, just the sweet, kind way you talk about her, what a wonderful relationship you must have had. Time to start thinking about you and all the things you'd like to move on to. Hang in there, friend.

 
At 7:57 PM, Blogger Pat's Place said...

O dear, you've had a bad day/week/month/winter/year - couple of years. More than a decade of it all...

I've admired you for all you have done with your life, your time, your energy, your Self. You've done many things I would never even think of, let alone consider seriously. And I'm proud of you for that.

I'm also proud of you as you struggle to find meaning in your life and words to describe it all.

Life is a confusing matter - by the time one begins to figure enough of it out to actually make wise decisions, one is OLD. Well, older, anyway. Parenting was a "fly by the seat of your pants" affair - learn as you go. Being an adult child of a needy parent is even harder. You ought to know. While I loved your mom, I knew who she was and I thought you were a saint (or crazy) to keep her with you. But I understand the guilt stuff. It was bred into us, wasn't it?

Self care is not selfish, no matter what was preached to us all those years ago. Self care sometimes involves NOT caring for others - be they people or sheep.

Keep on keeping on. You'll find your way. And your honey is right there with you!

 
At 4:46 PM, Blogger nanakate said...

bopeep has had an amazing life, more than I have done. NH has not been good to us eitherthis winter, hoping summer comes soon. I still am able to care for myself but live with my daughter and her family as you know. and since she and her 3 daughters work and volunteer in a assissted living home , they say I will never be put there, I hope but dont expect them to care for an invalid either. I dont believe you should have any regrets as to the care you gave your mother and you were not the "bad Daughter" from what i saw on our trip to Minn. 12 years ago. Take heart and stay healthy for yourself and Pat.
Kathy m.

 

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