(Sept. 26, 2015) Last night we drove west into a setting sun through rolling pasture-land to pick up our lambs in Scotland. Connecticut, that is. Just take a left at the Cliffs of Dover, I expected the GPS to instruct. The beautiful sheep farms and UK-influenced place names everywhere helped to create a sense of removal from time and place that felt appropriate to the occasion. It was not unlike a journey into a fairyland.
I remember when a lovely British woman I knew whose husband of fifty years died, she made the decision to sell their family home on Cape Cod and buy a thatched roof home named “Lavender Cottage on Pudding Hill Lane” in England. She chose to make the journey back to her native England via ship, explaining at the time, “Such a big life change shouldn’t be made over a five hour flight.”
I was thinking of her and the merits of the slow road, as we ambled our way along back roads to our destination. When my GPS told me to take a left on Pudding Hill Rd as the final turn to the farm, I was not entirely surprised. These sorts of things happen when you take the business of dream-making seriously.
The sheep farmer Keri was late for our meeting because she had to pick up her son. She offered us chocolate. I knew she and I would be fast friends as she introduced us to our sheep, explaining how Juliette had been bottle fed even though she didn’t need to be. “She has quite the personality, that one.”
“You’ll want to shear them right away,” Keri told us as she ran her hands through five inches of wool and outlined the merits of each animals fleece with technical language. This woman was a pro: a spinner, rare breeder, vet tech, bad ass animal loving, totally together woman farmer. I noticed syringes in the drawer of her desk as she fumbled for a pen.
“Oh, gosh,” I said. “I was hoping we could wait to shear until spring.” (Since we don’t know how to do that yet. Will they need sweaters then for winter? And isn’t that ironic? What have we done? Why don’t you just keep them and we can visit them. Or can you come live with us? all running through my head simultaneously.)
As she haltered the two lambs to help bring them into our truck, she leaned down and kissed each of them, taking her time to say goodbye. “You were my favorite Juliette,” she whispered to her, as she nuzzled her and kissed her face several times.
“You can call me with questions or anything you need,” she offered. She was catching on that we were going to need a lot of support. She handed me the registration papers, explaining exactly what to do to file them properly. Then off I drove, commandeering a pickup with two lambs, two children, a teenager and myself.
The quilt we had wrapped around the animal carriers came off during the first leg of our journey. We didn’t realize the animals were exposed until we were already at a drive-through. It was nearly 8:00 pm and we hadn’t eaten, so we had stopped. The two lambs were bleating in the background as we gave our order over the intercom. The teenager who gave us our food made a double take when he noticed our precious live cargo.
“I bet you’ve seen stranger things,” I said.
“Oh, yeah. That’s nothing!” he said. “I live on a farm.”
Say no more, I thought. “Yes, you have,” I answered.
Settling the lambs into our barn in the dark did not dampen our spirits as six of us surrounded their pen and coo’d in that sweet voice reserved for small children and baby animals.
This morning, I got to the barn just in time to hear bleating coming from the barn and answers of moo-ing from the other side of the wall. The cows and lambs were having a conversation! I can only imagine its content.
They had a lot to say to 9-year old Ben and me as well, though they were a little camera shy when we tried to capture it.
We love you already.