05 December 2010

Feelin' Sheepish

About two and a half weeks ago today at around 8am
I recieved one of those dreaded phone calls...
the nurse from the care facility on the other end of the line said,
"Ma'am, we've found your mother unresponsive this morning
and we are sending her to the local Emergency Room."

Now, I'm my Momma's main advocate, her main source of support,
and here I am, six hours away by car, and she needs me!

What's a girl to do?

After explaining the situation to the Man,
we both spent some time in prayer asking for wisdom from above.
We then spent some time listening for the promptings of the still small voice...
and finally we discussed together our thoughts and devised a plan.

We would entirely rearrange our plans for the next two weeks,
and so we began hurriedly packing for a trip west.

During the time it took us to pack and while on the drive
I was pleased to recieve a phone call from the small-town hospital
to which my momma had been transported.
An office worker needed more information for her paperwork,
and having obtained it she very kindly asked if I wished to speak
to the ER nurse who was caring for my momma.
She transferred me to that person, who in turn proceeded
to fill me in on what was going on.

Momma had been a little responsive when she arrived at the ER by ambulance,
and they were in the process of "working her up,"
meaning checking blood work and doing a cat scan,
looking for possible evidence of a stroke,
and she would let me know when they had the results available.

I also had the presence of mind by then to remember
that momma had been started on a new medication just the week before,
and that she has a long history of reacting in odd, adverse ways to new meds,
and I was able to tell this nurse that and suggest that if the tests came back negative
we just stop the medication and see if her body would recover.

The ER nurse did call me back a few hours later, and  the tests were negative.
"Thank-you, Lord!" I breathed.
I was even able to talk to momma, and though she sounded...um...drugged,
she knew me and was very appropriate.
So I was gratefully certain that the worst of the crisis had passed.

We arrived at Poppa J's around 11:30pm,
and promptly "hit the hay."
(Pardon my farm-girl pun.)

The next morning we awoke to an almost-winter wonderland.
There was an amazing and absolutely beautiful hoar-frost
covering every visible blade and stick,
and a bit of a hazy fog lingering in the air.

I had to run outside to get something from the truck
that we had not bothered to bring in the night before,
and as I did I called out to my dad's sheep, "Lonely,"
to see if she would "Baaa-aa" in reply as she usually does.

Dad used to have three ewes in the corral next to his house,
they were affectionately named Nellie, Sugar and Sissy.
Both Nellie and Sugar were found suddenly deceased,
at different times, and for unknown reasons.
Sad affair each time, but part of life on the farm.

And so Sissy, being the last of the three to remain,
quickly acquired the nickname "Lonely."
Must be tough to be the last sheep on the ranch.
She gets household scraps, and nibbles them with relish.
She keeps the grass mown in the corral area.
She provides entertainment~and education~
for a little girl we Treasure.
She provides delight for the Treasure's momma.
She provides companionship, of a sort, for a lonely old man.
She's a part of the family.

And so, over time, I've earned her trust.
Ok, I've bribed her with oats.
Whatever.....it works.
When she sees me coming with the "sheep bucket"...
or hears the lid to the oat bin rattle,
she comes running.
And as she's learned that I come bearing good things to eat,
she's learned to know the sound of my voice.
And she's learned to talk back!
She must know the sound of our vehicles as well,
because usually when we arrive, even if it is dark,
she will "Baaa-aa" and listen for us to reply,
then "Baaa-aa" again in return.

But when I went out to the truck that white, frosty morning
and called to her, there was no reply.
And I remembered that I didn't hear her voice the evening before.
And the fate of her "sisters" flashed into my mind,
and my thoughts began to race.
(I frequently hear coyotes at night out there...)

I was barefooted, but I stepped over into the driveway/yard area
and peered out into the corral to see if I could see her.
And what I saw made my heart sink.

There, lying beside the old silo, at the far end of the corral,
was the prostrate form of poor lonely.
Not in the usual lying-down, keeping-her-legs-warm,
resting-thru-the-night stance,
but flat-out prostrate.
On her side, with legs sticking straight out.
Like she was sick. Or dead.

My heart started crying inside.
It was too cold to go out and investigate closer.
I was shoe-less, and had no jacket on.
And I really didn't want to see the worst up close right then.
I needed to get to town and check on my momma.

And then, there was the Treasure to think about.
We don't protect her from the realities of life, or death.
(Nor do we glorify the gore...)
But she is struggling enough with the move,
and was already upset that something was wrong with grandma.
I just didn't want her to see the dead sheep.

So I went back inside and went about getting ready to go to town.
As I moved through the familiar tasks, and as I had opportunity,
I took both the Man and Poppa J aside privately,
and told them what had happened.
They both looked out the kitchen window
at the distant view of the pitiful white mound beside the silo,
and sadly shook their heads.

A friend of my dad's, who keeps an eye on him and the farm,
and who helps out with caring for chores as needed, 
(and has bow hunting priviledges as a sort of payment...)
called to check in on my dad,
and I grabbed the phone and ran outside to speak to him privately.
"Jack," I said, "I need to let you know that Lonely is dead."
"Oh, no!" he replied.
"Yes," I continued hurriedly, "and we need to get to town and check on mom.
I haven't told the Treasure, and I really don't want her to see the dead animal right now."
"I understand--I'll take care of the body while you are in town
this afternoon," he kindly replied.
Relieved, I thanked him, hung up, and went to get a shower.

As soon as I got out of the shower,
the Man called to me and said,
"You wanna see a miracle? Go look out the window!"
I looked at him with a puzzled expression...
and he just gave me this little smirk of a grin.

So I looked out the window, at the corral again...
and Lonely's cold form was still lying there, hadn't moved a bit.
"What am I supposed to see?" I quizzed.
"Go on outside," he coaxed.
So, I did.

And what do you suppose my wondering eyes did see?!

You got it.

A Miracle!!!

There she was, in all her 3-years-worth-of-overgrown-wool-coated glory!!!

At first I could hardly believe my eyes,
but I soon discovered that the mound I had seen previously,
and from a distance, and which had been coated with white hoar-frost...
that I had assumed was the lifeless form of my little baaa-aa-ing friend...
was simply a pile of hay!

Disbelief soon turned to joy...tinged with quite a bit of feeling.....silly!!!
I couldn't help giggling at myself as I joyfully  greeted Lonely
and bribed her, once again, to come a little closer with an extra-large scoop of oats.

And then it struck me that I needed to call Jack
and let him know that all was well,
and he could mark "disposing of corpse" off his list
of things to do today.

I was giggling and red-faced as I dialed his number.

"Jack--it's me again," I said when he answered.
"I'm feelin' a little.....sheepish....."

Into the concerned quietness on the other end of the phone,
I quickly blurted out my blunder,
and then I heard the relief in his smiling voice as he simply said,
"Well, I guess we'll call her 'Miracle' now."

You gotta appreciate good neighbors like that,
who would willingly dispose of your tradgedies
in order to spare your small Treasures the pain,
and then kindly overlook your foolishness
with gentle words...

Love the oats clinging to Lonely's Miracle's upper lip...
and aren't her dreadlocks gorgeous?!

So, my friends, I am happy to report that Lonely Miracle
is alive and doing well, enjoying her daily oat ration,
and my Momma is on the mend as well,
though her recovery is going quite a bit slower than I'd like.
(Off the record~the medical record, that is~
I gave her a few dilute doses of activated charcoal in water
which seemed to help speed up her detox...)

After spending a few days at the farm
we headed south to another state to spend the week of Thanksgiving
with some friends we hadn't seen in forever
and with the Man's family.
We had a wonderful time, ate too  much tasty food,
and drove too long to get back home...
and now we are recovering and regrouping,
packing another load and cleaning as we go.

Miracle's favorite treat...
And that, my blog-land friends, is all said to explain
why there such a long lapse in posting here...
not that any explanation has been requested,
it's just that I enjoy blogging
and I enjoy reading other bloggers posts
and I know how disappointing it is when they don't post as often as I'd like!

I must put it out on the table here though,
that my family and their needs take priority over blogging.
Which means posting will at times be sporadic here,
'cause sometimes I'm just too busy,
or sometimes I've traveled somewhere and don't have access to my computer.
(Never for lack of material...
there are always about 10 new posts buzzing around in my brain...)

Just so's ya know.

Our sheep named Miracle...
and now you know...the REST of the story!

I hope your Thanksgiving holiday was full of things to be grateful for,
and that you are enjoying the current season of holidays,
whatever you choose to celebrate.

We are in the midst of celebrating Chanukah,
ever remembering that
Jesus is the Light of the World!

Blessings to you in the midst of this busy season.
Please take some time to prioritize and simplify...
create time and space to remember the Reason for your Season.



  1. What a sweet story! I'm so happy for your mother and Miracle. God bless.

  2. Thanks Kara. I'm grateful that things turned out well, and it is good to share a laugh on ones self sometimes!

  3. Nice post. Love the pictures and glad that Grandma is on the mend.