Sunday, March 23, 2008

Riding in Cars with Sheep 2

Spring! Spring! It appears the season has finally gotten serious here in the Northeast. We still have a few feet of snow, but it is melting fast, and we're starting get an inkling of the tremendous MUD SEASON to come.

To celebrate a new year of sheepy adventures, and just because I thought it might be fun, here is another story about "Riding in Cars with Sheep".

Last fall I went to pick up Harry, our black mouflan ram lamb, on the way home from work. Harry was at West Elm Farm in Pembroke, MA, just a long hop skip and a jump from Seaport Campus. On the way out to fetch him, I drove through Weymouth, our old neck of the woods, encountering strip malls, traffic and about a hundred "drive thru" whatevers. I reminded myself how lucky I was to have moved to beautiful, traffic and mall free Colrain. All those choices are numbing once you get used to a more manageable, less cluttered lifestyle.

Harry was easy to catch and fellow shepherd, Patrick Roll, and I put him into the minivan no problem. Now, Dan and I had learned from experience. Seeing as how sheep had this tendency to wedge themselves under the steering wheel when given a chance, we had outfitted the van with a makeshift barricade. (Okay, so what if the barricade was fashioned out of the rails from an old toddlerbed.... we take this recycle, reuse stuff seriously on Maggie's Farm.) The toddler bed effectively barred any forward incursions.

Anyway, I was reasonably sure Harry would stay put. Patrick invited me in to sign papers and we chatted a while. Have I mentioned how wonderful it is for a new shepherd to "talk sheep" when offered the chance? Patrick and I talked about mineral supplements and breeding cycles, composting with pigs, and useful sheep books. I was happy as a clam when I headed back out to the van.

It didn't take long for me to see that something was amiss. The van was parked down at the West Elm barn and as I walked toward it, I noticed the back left window seemed a little.... odd. Really odd.... Um broken.

Evidently, Harry had decided that as the steering wheel well was unavailable, he'd just bust on through the window instead. He'd somehow detached part of the window so that it flapped free of the van like a broken wing. Oddly enough, he didn't make a break for it or smash the glass. When I got close enough to fully gauge the damage, he stood glaring at me from the back as if to say "And what are YOU going to do about it?"
Patrick and I rigged the window shut with some twine and I headed out. Now, the window continued to flap a little and I fully expected that Harry would bust out onto the highway somewhere along the way. I kept a close watch on him through the bars of the toddler bed. It didn't make for an easy trip.

About halfway home, I stopped for some coffee at Dunkin Donuts. Yes, Dunkin' is lousy, but it has a drive thru, and I couldn't risk leaving Harry alone again. I handed over my stainless steel "Go cup" (I never leave home without it-- really) and while I was waiting for my fill-up, and perhaps because Harry was so balefully quiet, I had an almost irresistable urge to shout "I have a sheep in this van! That's right, a sheep!" This was Suburbia after all, and I wanted to just, um shake things up a little.

Well, I resisted the urge, and Harry and I made it home with no further drama.

We found out later that the window would cost something like $800 to fix. Harry had become a VERY expensive sheep indeed! Our solution, of course, was to rig the window the best we could and forgo the expense. Aside from the days when driving snow piles up on the booster seats inside, it's workin' okay for us.

And Dan built a nifty "Sheep crate" that should eliminate any future problems. (Well, there is a somewhat funny story about the sheep crate too. But it'll have to wait. )


skepweaver said...

I so enjoy your gentle and humorous view of life, and your insights that often run parallel to our own. Here is my sheep-in-the-car shot from this winter:


Cherizac said...

Harry is beautiful! What a face! And lovely coloring.

Thank you for your thoughtful comments on my blog. I very much appreciate your well thought out opinions rather than just outright dismissal of what I know is a controversial stance.

Reading your blog made me a tad homesick; I'm from Norwood originally, having lately left Mansfield for sunny California. I admire your family's breaking with the norm and seeking a self sustaining lifestyle, and I'm terribly jealous of your gorgeous Icelandics! I've recently been thinking much along those lines myself, and have been trying to make small changes towards living more prudently. I hope to find some good ideas in your blog, and hope you don't mind if I drop in once in a while.

Anonymous said...

I love it! Very creative!That's actually really cool.

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