The Vain Shepherdess

When I leave the farm I like to look nice. Few people have ever seen me in my baggy Oshkosh overalls, which are about two sizes too large but so roomy I can move and bend and twist, agile as a cat.

Yesterday I was gone for most of the afternoon and evening, and as usual, left the bibs at home. Instead, I wore my favorite pair of jeans, which are tight enough that I look darned good, if I must say so myself, but with just enough ‘give’ that I can actually drive sitting down. You know the pair—they thin your thighs, and make your butt look cute and your legs look longer. (I’m living proof you don’t have to be pencil-thin to feel good about yourself in this pair of jeans.)

So it’s late in the evening, and I haven’t changed pants yet. Melissa’s out in the pasture moving the sheep, and it’s taking longer than it should, so I decide to slip on my boots and go help. No reason to change into my bib overalls because moving sheep to the next paddock just entails clapping your hands, whooping a bit, and walking behind the flock to encourage it to move in the direction you want.

I got down there, and found the sheep had already been moved. But farther down the hill I could just barely see the top of Melissa’s head running back and forth. Running is never a good sign. I worked my way down the hill to discover that two lambs had been left behind. They’d either been sleeping, or off horsing around in the tall grass and not paying attention.

Moving two lambs is impossible. Imagine a horseshoe. The flock is at one tip, and the two lambs are at the other tip. To rejoin the flock, the lambs must walk all the way around the curved end of the horseshoe to get through a gate. We tried to get the lambs to do this, but they wouldn’t go. They wanted to go from tip to tip, but there were two electric fences in the way.

“Run!” Melissa yelled as the two lambs scampered past me once again. I sort of shuffled faster in my oh-so-flattering jeans.

“I can’t,” I yelled back.

We finally forced them into a corner with a netted fence. One leapt right over the fence (these are little guys, about 20 pounds and built like linebackers) but the other got stuck in the fence right at my feet. Here was my opportunity.

“Grab him!” Melissa yelled from the far side of the thistle patch. I bent over at the waist, but couldn’t bend my knees. My pants were sweaty from running and—did I mention—a little tight. I couldn’t bend anything. “I can’t,” I cried. Since I don’t have gorilla arms, my hands flailed uselessly about an inch above the struggling lamb. My arms weren’t long enough and I couldn’t bend my knees!

“Get him!” Melissa cried as she ran toward us.

“I can’t!” I was about to just let myself fall on the lamb, sort of like some denim-clad tree being felled, hoping not to crush her, when she broke free and zoomed away.

“Or you could just stand there looking good in those jeans,” Melissa said with a sigh.

“Oh, that I can do,” I said as I watched the two lambs disappear.

We finally had to walk up the hill and move the entire flock, all 120 sheep and 3 llamas, back down the hill, around the curve in the ‘horseshoe.’ The two lambs ran to meet the flock, and all was well. When we tried to then stop the sheep and get them to turn around and move back up the hill, they looked at us like we were insane.

“You moved us up the hill, then down the hill, and now you want us to go back up the hill?” one ewe said. “Those jeans must be cutting off the circulation to your brain.”

We finally convinced them to move back up the hill to the new paddock. (You’re probably wondering why we didn’t use the border collie—the area was too tight and he might have caused a panic, and he’s going deaf, so wants to do his own ‘thing,’ which isn’t always our ‘thing.’)

Back at the house, I was so hot and sweaty from chasing sheep I almost couldn’t get the jeans off.

So if you see me walking around town in my bib overalls, please don’t raise your eyebrows at my really poor sense of fashion. Just know I’m trying to be a prepared shepherdess, instead of a vain one.

4 thoughts on “

  1. i went to this website for the first time today….i didn’t know it existed! How absolutely wonderful! 🙂
    Your style of writing is so eloquent and beautiful, humorous and completely raw!
    The images that dance around in my mind create a huge smile on my lips. Thank you for sharing your life in such true form.
    ~cLaudia VicToria

  2. Hi Catherine,

    I can totally relate. Around here, one of the three of us is always in our “working clothes”.

    I know exactly what you mean about herding sheep… they really want to be in one group… and not where you want them… no matter how you’re dressed!

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