The deeper into farming we get, the more urgent our need for a farm truck grows. Our family minivan can only do so much. We (read: Dan) take the seats out and haul hay in it just about once a week. We take our garbage and recyclables down to the Colrain Dump in it. We load it up with feed and fleece and whatever else and sometimes… sometimes we transport sheep in it.
As you might imagine, there are quite a few funny sheep stories about the van. In fact, each and every “transport trip ”has yielded at least ONE worthy story. I thought I’d send one of these stories out into the blogosphere today.
The first delivery was fun. Stewart (And yes, I did try to talk Micah out of leaving Stewart with the unfortunate nickname “Stew”) went off to Tweed Valley Farm in Vermont in the back of our last minivan, a tacked-together Mercury villager. Stewart was not happy about leaving his mom, Daisy, and he let us know it by bleating sorrowfully the WHOLE THREE HOURS we were enroute. We stopped at a gas station midway and attracted the attention of quite a few local folks. This being Vermont, no one was particularly amazed or impressed. People put their foreheads against out tinted back windows and asked “What d’ya got in there?” We’d answer, and get that knowing yankee nod. Seems everybody in Vermont has transported SOME sort of livestock in some unorthodox and interesting way.
Well, Stewart was unloaded without much ado and we said goodbye, picked up Pattur, a cute little moorit ram, and were on our way.
Our next stop was the beautiful Woolambia farm. Fellow shepherds Neil and. Maureen Dwyer invited us in for a cup of coffee. I took a look at Pattur. Backed up against the rear of the van, he seemed to be sizing me up as well. “You think he’ll be okay in here?”
“Oh, sure.” Dan said, with characteristic blind optimism. “What could happen?”
Well, we had a great chat with Neil and Maureen. Shepherds, in my experience, are terrific people, and Dan and I always learn so much when we get a chance to sit back and “talk sheep”. When we finally roused ourselves to check on Pattur, we found he’d breached the barrier separating the human section of the van and the sheep (or cargo) section. He’d also wedged himself quite nicely beneath the seating wheel.
Did I mention the pouring rain? No? Well, it was cats and dogs all day, a cold pounding variety. Besides the damp sheep smell and several tufts of moorit fleece, Pattur left us a few um, “presents” squashed into the damp minivan carpet. Oh, and it was NOT easy getting him out and around to the back either. As we learned that day: Wedged sheep do not pull (or push).
Once, Pattur was returned to his proper place, we quickly picked up beautiful badgerfaced Leela and headed for home. As it was raining torrents, we couldn’t air out the van much and we drove along gloomily, our silence punctuated by plaintive bleats from the lambs in back. We were wet and bedraggled and accosted by “sheep perfume”.
I’d had visions of a quick “dinner date” in Bennington. After all, the kids were with their cousins, and we never—I mean NEVER— get any “couple time” to speak of. Pattur put the kibosh on any dinner plans. Sheep were not meant for minivans. For all we knew, he’d figure out how to drive the damn thing if we gave him enough time. (We were lucky he hadn’t nudged the Mercury into gear and gone on a short and ugly joyride through the hilly and picturesque Woolambia pastures.) We returned home, put our new sheep in their quarantine pen, picked up the kids and went to bed.
Oh yes, I do dream of trucks….