The Sheep Heard

“We’re moving the sheep tomorrow morning. All hands on deck. Can you help?”, Sister Dee texted me. She works at the Merck Forest and Farmland Center.

The first time I went up to see her new place of employment, where she was filling up bottles of maple syrup, I felt like an imposter. My sneakers felt inappropriate on the 10 minute trail to the chickens, pigs, draft horses, sheep, and sap house. Should I be wearing hiking boots or muck boots or something? Is it weird to be walking alone on a road I’ve not been on? Am I walking funny? I became startlingly self-conscious.

I wouldn’t think twice about what was on my feet or what I was doing if I were at the Rec Center in town, but I was becoming confused amidst the trees. Am I just supposed to walk normally? Am I walking, strolling or hiking? What’s the difference anyway? Thank God I’m not wearing yoga pants or a tennis skirt. Maybe it was the newness of the area that was throwing me off.

Four months later I’m much more comfortable visiting, probably because I have some very cool shoes that can pass for hiking boots. Low tech so not Long Trail worthy but pretty hip looking. So me and my self-approved foot-wear arrived at 9 a.m. to help move sheep.

“Okay, who wants to be the Pied Piper?”, Dee’s boss asked. Now that’s something to jump at. Who wouldn’t want to be a Pied Piper? So I jumped. “Take this 10 gallon bucket of grain and start shaking it as soon as we open the gate. The sheep will follow you up the hill to the next gate.”

That didn’t sound too tough. I didn’t want to appear as a Pied Piper imposter. I wanted to appear confident so I didn’t ask anything like “Do I feed them the grain or is it fake grain?” or “How far into the pasture should I lead them.”

Two seconds later, “Ready? Shake. RUN!” The Pied Piper had it easy playing his flute while rats ambled behind him to the music. Picture me being chased by 30 ewes and lambs, carrying an enormous bucket above my head, about 50 yards up hill. Amazing how my boots felt like running shoes. Besides the bleating and the sound of my own heart beating, all I could hear was Dee laughing and yelling “FASTER!” I want to be clear, Mom is the only runner in our family. This wasn’t just running, this was sprinting in a stampede.

I managed to hold my position in front until we got to the new field. After that I was surrounded. Sheep took the lead, crowded from the sides, and pushed from the back. They bounced into each other and off of me. When do we stop running? Sure is lucky I’m not wearing sneakers. Those little hooves behind me would be no match. Am I going to get trampled? Could I die? When do I give them the grain?

I threw handfuls out as if feeding chickens, not easy when running for your life.

Think Alexandra! Remember mustering sheep in Australia? Yeah, but with dogs doing most of the work. So I did the next best thing. I channeled my inner Jillaroo and yelled to pretend dogs. “Get back, Jocko! Bring ‘em round, Mitzi! Aw, git off Rudy!” It totally worked. The sheep started moving away from me!

Then again it may have been because they realized that the luscious grass around them was more enticing and easier to reach than a few bits of grain tossed onto another sheep’s back. Mission accomplished.

A family had been viewing the scene from afar and as I passed them, heading back to my car, the grandfather said, “Don’t you have dogs to do that?” “That would be me,” I replied.

It’s good to volunteer and help out. It’s also a good idea to know what you are getting into first. I tend to forget that and I’m not sure if I enjoy finding delight in the unknown or I’m just plain stupid.

What I do know is, either way, the possibility of making my sister wet her pants laughing is the pay off.

Namaste- A 30 second sprint sure made my day.

Bucket Shmuck-it

“You don’t have a Bucket List?”, he asked incredulously. “Aren’t there places you want to go and see, or things you want to do before you die?”

I was a little caught off guard so I hoped he wouldn’t ask why I didn’t have one. The subject had never come up for me, ever, anywhere. I had no nutshell answer at the ready.

Now if he asked why I didn’t have a tattoo, I could answer easily. “I can’t think of a thing I’d want permanently etched on my body.”

If I’d been allowed to get a tattoo in 7th grade, what an idiot I’d feel like 50 years later with a Smiley Face, and Alfred E. Neuman from “Mad” Magazine on my person.

But he did ask why, so I had to think fast.

“I don’t like bucket lists because I do what I want when I can. Making a list of things I want to accomplish before I kick the bucket is a surefire way to get my blood pressure up. If I don’t complete the list does that mean I’m a failure? If I complete the list is it time to die? Why set myself up for something stupid like that?”

Sometimes I have a tendency to wreck a conversation.

A similar thing happens to me when asked, “What would you do if you won the lottery?” I hate hypothetical questions truth be told, but prudently I came up with a pat answer for this after taking the BP cuff off for the 90th time.

“I’d pay off our mortgage, pay off my student loan, weatherproof the porch, and support causes that are important to me whether they be organizations, friends, family, do-gooders or people in need.”

Hmmm. Sounds suspiciously like a bucket list.

For some, bucket lists are a way to keep personal wants, goals, desires and dreams organized.

The practice of yoga encourages us to live and be in the moment, aware of who we are and what we have.

What we want, ideally, comes down to what we need.

I suppose there is one thing that appears on my nonexistent list, a big old pair of martini set diamond earrings. (Look them up, they are a thing.)

It seems my earlobes are bigger, in fact my ears seem bigger. Would diamonds help? Do they have to be real? Well diamonds are a girl’s best friend, so Marilyn Monroe sang, and I love that gal.

Cubic Zirconia could work, but I hope they or any diamonds thrown my way are not causing harm to others.

But do I need them?

I guess my bucket list, if I have to have one, would be to make sure that what I want or need isn’t wrecking someone else’s list. Ahimsa, the first Yama, means do no harm.

Namaste- just a grocery list today!