Sheep, Grass Management, and Happy Events

I like to think it was an omen. Just as we arrived to meet Christopher, the shepherd who had brought over one hundred sheep to the pulled vineyard waist-high in cayuse oats, vetch, and various perennials, I spotted a tiny black lamb.  It stood with its mother apart from the herd at one end of the fenced area. Christopher said it had been born an hour or so ago. My son Casey pointed out the lamb to his two sons, Wesley and Sabien, aged 11 and 9, and my granddaughter Grace, aged 2, as Christopher and I discussed the business of the sheep. How far down to the bare earth did I want the grass grazed, and how far into the nearby forest?  When I stepped into a fresh pile of sheep manure, he remarked that these sheep deliver over 600 pounds of manure to the fields each day. As we spoke, his guardian dog kept placing its paws on my shoulders as if to say, do not get too close to the sheep!

And then, something strange began to happen. A string of mucus oozed from the ewe’s tail end, followed by a white lamb that hung wiggling midair for a minute before falling to the ground. Grace had just learned that Mommy had a baby in her tummy and that she was going to be a big sister. She kept repeating the baby came out of the mommy. My friend Debby later quipped that she hoped Grace didn’t think her new sibling would be a lamb.

In the middle of this drama, my phone rang. It was my other son Jesse, Grace’s father. Did I know where Grace’s mother, Lisa was? They were negotiating escrow for their first home, and he had to talk to her immediately.  Having been outbid numerous times by all-cash buyers offering $200,000-300,000 over asking, Jesse was taking no chances on timing.

He reached Lisa within a couple of minutes, they entered escrow, and we all are anticipating a new family member joining us in November. The two lambs are happily nursing this morning when they aren’t dancing around their mother and the other sheep. The sheep are busy reducing fire danger by eating down the grasses while fertilizing the soil. Grazing at this time of year also selects for the native perennial grasses, which also reduce fire danger. What could be better?

I enjoy the happy surprises of life that, bidden or not, sometimes just happen. Some are everyday pleasures; some portend significant changes. But big or small, they bring that welcome feeling that at least today, things are going well!