Spring has returned. The Earth is like a child that knows poems. ~Rainer Maria Rilke

Friday, May 2, 2008

Looking for Lambs

Last weekend my husband and I took a drive into the Shenandoah Valley , north-east of Plymouth, CA. It was a beautiful spring day; lots of green vinyards and wildflowers. I wanted to find a certain farm where a friend and I had seen baby lambs the year before: so I could take some pictures of them, of course.

Shenandoah Valley is the "new" Napa Valley. I'm not sure that this is a good thing. I remember Napa before all the fuss and it was , in my memories, a beautiful small town where everyone knew everyone and life was farming and everyone made their own wine for dinner. Now, I see the Shenandoah Valley going the same way. More and more vinyards and wineries are appearing every year; small wineries with big homes and fancy names. But there are still some families who have lived there for generations and maybe they have turned some of their acres into grapes for more money, but they still have old barns and farm animals. This is where I took the photo below.

There was a fence, as there had been last year, but this year there were "no tresspassing" signs everywhere. The old barn on the road was sagging a bit more than I remembered and there were no baby lambs. I got out of the truck and walked over to the fence and saw no animals at all. What a dissapointment! As I walked along the fence I peeked into the open side of the barn and I'll bet more than 30 sheep came running out into the pasture. I did not expect this. They really surprised me and I shouted something like "Oh my"(only a lot worse). The prospector looked up and shouted "There they are!", like I hadn't seen them. Gee's. I was so close to the fence and the sheep were so close to me, that it kind of took my breath away for a moment. There was a man across the pasture doing something with a hoe and I swear I saw him laugh. When I regained my composure I ran back to the other side of the barn and there they were, standing perfectly still, looking at me. So, I started talking to them.

Sheep are kind of like cows. They will stare you down, until they perceive you as a threat, and then they bolt. I was careful not to make any fast moves as I lifted my camera up. I tried not to have eye contact with any one animal but it was hard. I kept telling them how lovely they were and saying things like "Hello beautiful sheep." and "How are you today?. You do wonder what they must think of this crazy human making all these strange sounds. Probably something like "If she comes over the fence we'll head for the pond." or "We had the element of surprize and we didn't use it to our advantage." or more likely, "...another silly human ...". Who knows. I took some good shots but this one below was the one that touch me the most. This sheep was very deformed, by birth or accident I have no idea, but she was so damaged. The others seemed to stand around her as if they might be protecting her. There was this bond and maybe the ones that were closest to her where her offspring . I don't know. They did stay while I took a few pictures and then, for no reason that I could tell, they bolted across the pasture and left.

When my husband doesn't get out of the truck I always know my time is limited before he starts getting antsy. It was time to go and find some lunch. If there had been any lambs he would have waited a lot longer. With lambs, he might have gotten out of the truck. The salvage farm (that he had come out there to look at) was closed so, to his way of thinking , the trip was over. Men! With them it's always the destination, rarely the journey.

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