>what starts with a skunk ends with tiger paws resting in the shade

>I begged my sister to let me share her story here. A day in the life of lambing season. These are her words, her life, her embracements.

Cast of characters:

Rex– Mary’s husband, Nicest Human Being In the World Ever
Birdie – Rex’s 92 year old mother
Annie and Hank– Mary’s 2 year old German Wire-haired Pointer, Birdie’s 5 year old Aussie herder
Pregant Ewe– pregnant ewe
Skunk – Dead Skunk What Won’t Stay Buried
Tiger Paws – Enthusiastic Farm Foreman Cat
Dog Girl of Rainbow Dam – my sister, Mary

Rex and Birdie were still on their tour of the country when I arrived home from work. I set about doing the evening chores. The first task was to bury the dead skunk. Again. There is a dead skunk I keep burying and Annie keeps digging up. She waves it around like a banner and drops it, done with the thing and I go bury it again. I’m getting really good with a shovel.

I scoured the lower pasture for pregnant ewes needing encouragment to return home . . .

not these little guys

I found our most pregnant (she’s hugely pregnant) ewe with a foot trapped by a hole in old tree trunk. She was placidly chewing her cud, beaming me SOS signals with her gentle eyes to come get her out. She might have done better with some vocal accompaniments since she blended in with the terrain, looking like a piece of dead wood. I can’t claim credit for spotting her, nor she, for her ability to SOS with her eyes. I noticed her because Annie stopped to point her as she ran by.

this is what *hughly pregnant* means

I returned to the house for a saw and tools and was atttempting to release the trapped foot when Rex arrived to help release her. Once released she showed no interest in getting up (her foot was probably numb) we spent the next few hours bringing her feed, water and encouraging her to get up. Rex would heave-ho her hind end up, I would place her feet under and support her front end. Her job apparantly was to do nothing because that’s what she did – nothing.
We had come down to the site in the mule cart with the two dogs, Annie and Hank. By then Tiger Paws, the cat, had joined us. When we decided to leave her till morning, we turned to the mule cart to discover Hank, Annie and Tiger Paws loaded up in it, ready to head home. Tails were wagging and tongues were lolling on gloriously wet dogs who had been paddling in the creek. Tiger Paws was holding his precarious balance amongst the dogs.

resting comfortably, weight off her numb foot
Since we smelled like sheep I don’t know which living being suffered more on the trip home – us with the wet dogs, or the dogs with the smelly humans…..probably the cat because, to his mind, he is superior to us all anyway. Of course we could have made the dogs walk but it felt like our own little Noah’s Ark to crowd in and hug up tight. Since you-all know me so well, you have to believe Dog Girl of Rainbow Dam was in heaven with all these animals around her. As we left,  the ewe blatted her goodbyes to us, the first noise she made all evening besides puffing a bit as we did all the physical work to free her.

About redmitten

author of Cracking Geodes Open, Making Good Use of August, and The Peppermint Bottle. poetry editor for IthacaLit. website: https://toomuchaugust.wordpress.com

2 responses to “>what starts with a skunk ends with tiger paws resting in the shade

  1. >Sooooo….we all want to know what happened the next day and if the ewe lambed how many lambs, and that they were OK, and that her foot got better….and did the skunk show up again the next morning, a bit worse for wear, like it had been doing all along…..the suspense is tough on some of us.

  2. >so cowmonk,mary is so pleased to *hear from you*. she says to tell you that said ewe's foot was fine the next day (unnumbed) and she delivered triplets. said triplets bonded with the red wagon as well. anytime their ma wasn't around, they'd hug up to the red wagon. gosh, that makes me smile. and what else did she say? i asked her to write the reply but you know what, she is busy riding the horse of her childhood dreams. (gus) (and if you've not read the posts about how she dreamt of gus …scroll back a bit). the skunk: oh yeah, she says it's not even funny how many more burials it took before it dawned on her to heave heavy rocks onto the burial mound. rocks, it turns out, are not just for prettifying.and you will know the rest of the story and how it ends with rex and mary riding the fence lines, making repairs.good to hear from you.

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