Sunday, December 23, 2012

A Christmas Visitor

The holidays always bring up this memory, from many years ago, before I was a spinner (if you can imagine such a time existed).  

It was Christmas Eve and  I had just gotten up and was getting ready to make coffee and get on the road to my Mom's house in PA for the holidays.  I went into the kitchen and opened the blinds to see the birds at the feeder, when I jumped back and screamed "OH MY GOD!"

From the other room I heard a half-asleep "'Oh my God' what?"

As I started to answer, I knew what I was saying, but had no idea how crazy it would sound until the words had escaped and it was too late to pull them back,

"There's a SHEEP eating from the bird feeder!"

I heard the footsteps as Scott came out of the other room into the kitchen to see for himself.  Sure enough, there was a sheep happily munching up all the bird seed that was in the little wooden feeder.

Where did it come from?  This area was definitely suburban and there were no farms for many miles.  Scott said "Maybe it wandered out of one of those live nativity scenes."  I looked over the top of my glasses at him and said "I'm the only shickse in the neighborhood, so no."  I figured it came from somewhere, and there must be somebody wondering where their sheep is.  So I called the police.

Actually, Scott called the police.  I heard him saying "Can you please send somebody to pick up the sheep, and not to pick me up in a straightjacket?  I swear there's really a sheep here!"  A little while later, the police showed up with a lasso.  After several unsuccessful attempts to catch the sheep, it took off into the woods and they said we should call them again if it came back,  I said I definitely would, since someone must be missing it.  "Oh, someone is missing it" the officer said "but not for the reasons you're thinking."  0,o  What did he mean?  Were these people going to kill it and eat it?  I certainly didn't want it returned to them if that was the case,

The sheep returned a few hours later, so I called PETA who put me in touch with Farm Sanctuary in upstate NY - an organization that rescues farm animals.  They had sent two women down a few days later, who were also unsuccessful at catching the sheep.  But they did give me some useful information.  They recognized the breed as a Barbados Blackbelly, because of its ability to jump high and far - when the cops were chasing it, it jumped clear across an 8 foot wide garden with no effort.  They also said it was a ewe due to its lack of horns.  So I affectionately named her "Sheepy".

I know it's a tiny picture, but we could never get very close to Sheepy, since she spooked so easily and would take off.  But she would always return later,  I guess she figured out we were nice people who wouldn't hurt her.  It also helped that Scott went out and bought a bag of Purina Sheep Chow, and we would leave a Yankees popcorn bucket full of it, along with another bucket of water, for her every day.  we also hung a tarp over the swing set so she would have a sheltered area to lay in when it snowed. Never did I think when I moved from Pennsylvania to work in New York City that I would have to come home and feed the sheep!

Sheepy hung around for about a month and then one day she didn't return.  I hope she found a nice home somewhere where she is loved and well cared for.  We've since moved to another town as well, where we have many strange animals wandering through the yard.  But none were as unusual nor as memorable as my first sheep.

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