Friday, July 29, 2016


While my youngest has been away at 4-H Round-Up this week, I have been pulling lamb duty. Every day, I feed and water Bertie (and his companions) and I take him for a walk. Lambs need exercise, too, you know.

As Bertie and I were strolling down the road on Wednesday, an air-conditioner repairman parked at a house along our route called out, "Funny looking dog you've got there!" When we strolled back past the house on our way home to Bertie's pen, he added, "He's got a funny bark, too!"

Bertie is a 130-pound, mixed-breed market lamb/dog. Yeah, he's got a funny bark! But he has a great disposition, too.

Bertie is smiling as big as Helen in this picture - he loves his girl!

After a week of tending sheep, I want to share a few things I have learned from Bertie and his companions:

1. People say sheep are extraordinarily stupid. On Wednesday, I found the lambs all packed in a knot in their shed, panting from the extreme heat. They were in the shed, I think, because of the shade it provided. However, they could have opted to stand outside in the shadow cast by the shed and still been in the shade - plus, they would have had better air circulation outside. It was much cooler outside in the shade than inside in the shed, but they didn't seem to have figured that out.

I don't know if that makes them stupid or if it means they are creatures of habit. Either way, when we humans are likened to sheep in the Bible, I don't think we should necessarily take that as a compliment.

2. Lambs seem to take on the personality their handlers display when working with them. Helen's lamb Bertie is sweet and agreeable. Some of the other lambs in the pen are cranky and cantankerous. Funny thing is, the cranky lambs seem pretty sweet, too, when someone with a little patience and a kind voice is in the pen.

Maybe this is another way we humans are like sheep - we respond differently to different people, based on how they treat us. Body language and tone of voice matter.

3. Lambs know their owner/caretaker. At least Bertie does. When Helen walks up to the sheep pen, Bertie perks up and notices. The other lambs don't seem to care a bit. This week, Bertie recognized Mom as his caregiver, and was quick to trot up to meet me. He would stand patiently while I slipped the halter over his head, as if he was eager to head out on his morning walk.

Lambs may not be smart, but it doesn't take them long to figure out who really cares about them. And the cool thing is, they seem to return your affection. (Maybe that's the "dog" coming out in them, Mr. Air-conditioner Repairman!)

4. Bertie loves to be scratched. If you scratch him on the side of his barrel/rib cage, he will lean further and further over until he loses his balance. If you scratch him between his shoulder blades, he kicks his stomach with his hind leg, like a dog. If you scratch his knobbly head, I swear he smiles.

Ummm, I don't know how this translates to human experience.

All of this to say - it has been a fun week of sheep tending! Like Helen, I have fallen in love with this sweet lamb. He is pleasant and cheerful and a delight to care for.

I think Helen's lamb would make Bertie Wooster proud!

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