Saturday, January 19, 2008

Shetland Shepherds...

Ole
Posted by Picasa


Another Shetland shepherd, a friend, lost one of her sheep this week. I stopped in to check her blog this evening to catch up on what had been going on with her. I have been fighting an infection and hadn't been up to sitting at the computer much as the medications I had been on had terrible side effects.

There, reading her blog, I found a beautiful tribute to a ewe that had served my friend well. By the time I finished reading, tears were falling from my face to the keyboard. The entry was a gracious account of the relationship these two had together. Not real close as a favored dog might be, but you could tell of the love and respect my friend has for this ewe who was 15 years old at her passing.

Shetland shepherds are different than most other sheep people I've known in my life. Most other people view sheep as a commodity to buy, to sell...to trade. Others I've known aren't really callous, by any means, towards their sheep, but they don't hold their animals in as high a regard as Shetland sheep people hold their sheep. There's something special about both these little, tough, intelligent sheep and the people who shepherd them. Most - and I've noticed even Shetland shepherds with very large flocks who don't necessarily have time with each sheep, each day - come to view these creatures more towards, for lack of a better word, "friends" rather than "livestock". More than one of them will make time to slow down and sit among their charges. It's not unheard of to have a sheep lie down next to its shepherd, even putting its head in the shepherd's lap. There's a bond there that goes beyond investment, wool, lambs, markets, feed rations. The bond is from heart to heart, soul to soul. Kindred spirits, I have come to believe.

My friend's ewe had loved apples. She knew when the old girl would not touch the favored treat that the end was near, so she made her as comfortable as possible in a warm, quiet place with plenty of bedding to comfort the gentle old one. By morning, the ewe had passed on to run in lush green pastures by cool brooks of sparkling water.

Tomorrow, I will take my sheep apples to honor both the memory of the old ewe, and my friend. And I will tell them of their bond and respect they had for each other...as we cherish our own...

4 comments:

Nancy K. said...

I couldn't agree more, Kathy! I was also deeply touched by Lois's post about Eva passing.

The bond of friendship that you speak of is apparent in all of the Shetland shepherds and their flocks that I know. I can still distinctly remember the "pull" that I felt the first time I ever saw a Shetland sheep. I never have known quite how to describe it. I only know that there was some sort of 'pull' ~ in my heart that told me that I had to have these very special animals. It wasn't a gentle suggestion. It was a powerful need! And I've never regretted it...

You mentioned one of my very favorite moments. When I'm sitting in the field with my flock and one or more of the ewes and/or lambs choses to lie down beside me. I get such an incredible feeling of friendship and trust and peace and belonging. That these gentle, timid creatures feel safe enough in my presence and trust me enough to make themselves most vulnerable ~ well, it makes my heart sing. I don't know how else to say it.

thank you for a lovely post!

Kathy said...

Thank you, Nancy - for so eloquently adding your sentiments here.

Tina T-P said...

Yes, I too had leaky eyes after reading Lois's tribute to Eva. What a sweet story. (yours made my eyes leak a little too...)

Trying a new thing for dinner - chili! Yup, I've never made chili before - we had some at our friends that was good, and she graciously shared her "recipe" with me - hope it is good, there's a LOT of it.

Take care. T.

Sharon said...

We chose Shetlands based on logic - they're little and aren't apt to knock you down. Who knew what magnificent sheep they would be. And who knew that Ian would come to love them like our dogs. I told him that I have so much fleece from them and we can't sell the fleeces because of VM, we should sell the sheep. He's decided to coat them this year so we can sell the fleeces - he can't bear the thought of his little boys not being here. You are *so* right. They talk to him!