Cindy picked me up at the Denver airport. During the drive to Boulder, she broke the news to me. “I need to help on the farm while you're here.”
I was delighted. Kathy, a friend of Cindy's owned a farm. It was primarily a sheep farm, though she also owned a few horses, a couple of goats, and two llamas. I'd visited Kathy's farm during several of my visits to Boulder. Every so often, when Kathy was out of town, Cindy helped out.
When I was twelve, my family spent a year in England. During that time, Dad introduced my brothers and myself to horseback riding. Jonathan, Simon, and I, spent long hours on the weekend helping out at the stables—I loved it. And when Cindy told stories about her adventures on the farm, I often wished I could help out as well. I missed the smell of the barn, the animals, the good honest work.
Cindy needn't had said anymore to further entice me to help her out with the chores, but I was thrilled with her next piece of news. “Apparently there are a lot of baby sheep, and two are bottle fed.”
I always enjoy my visits to Boulder, but this, the farm, and babies... I couldn't wait.
While I was still sorting myself out, putting on an icky coat and gloves and greeting the two dogs, Annie and Cocoa, Cindy walked over to the sheep pen. “Look at all the babies!”
They were gamboling about, pure white ones, some black, and everything in between. I pointed. “Look, they're sproinging! I love it when they jump like that, all four feet in the air. Oh, look, there's a tiny white one!”
We watched for a few minutes, then walked over to the barn to get started. I breathed in deeply—I'd forgotten the sweetness and warmth of the barn smell. I'd forgotten how much I loved it, how I used to relax into it, leaving all my cares behind.
We were greeted by a chorus of baahs and mehs. They were ready to be fed and watered, Sheep and lambs, horses and llamas, greedy goats, and more sheep.
Out of the fray, two little boys emerged, both of them black with a tuft of white curls on their foreheads—the two bottle fed lambs, Click and Clack. Emitting high pitched beeehs, they nudged me with their noses—got milk?
But Bill, Kathy's husband made it clear that he wanted to do the bottle feeding. I had to make do with a cuddle. I lifted up Click, or was it Clack? And we nuzzled against each other—he was searching for milk and perhaps a bit of comfort. Whereas I just wanted to enjoy the feel of the softness of his curls against my cheek and the smell of his milky baby breath.
He seemed quite happy in my arms for a couple of minuted, but then he started wriggling in my arms. Had he ascertained that there is no bottle to be found? I set him down and he followed Click, or perhaps Clack, and they gamboled over to rejoin the melee.
And it was time to get back to work.
Until now, I didn't realize how much I missed the satisfaction of working around farm animals, of good honest work. And the added bonus, the lambs...