Would ewe like to be inundated with sheep?

Would ewe like to be inundated with sheep? by Bob Karolevitz I was rummaging through some old papers recently when I came across Phyllis�s diary of 35 years ago.

It brought back lots of memories: of sleepless nights in the barn, of breeched births, of bottle babies, of vet bills, of wool sacks, of ice-cold lambs in the kitchen sink, etc.

Come to think of it, we were in the sheep business whether we wanted to be or not. And it all started with a couple of 4-H ewe lambs which our daughters had outgrown when they went off to college. (At least, that�s the way I remember it.)

We had lots of pasture then (now Garrity�s Prairie Gardens), and Phyllis couldn�t stand to see it going to waste. And so we started raising sheep!

We apparently went at it full bore, as the diary attested. We docked, castrated, wormed and drenched. We tagged, vaccinated and sheared. (I can still see Phyllis in the tall wool sack stomping fleeces.)

My wife became a veterinarian-without-portfolio. She wielded a needle with the best of them, giving shots for over-eating disease and many other problems. She also stuffed boluses and gooey paste down their throats � while I stood by in awe.

When we got up to 80 ewes, plus several ornery bucks, we were inundated with sheep. The ewes had twins and triplets, so we had gamboling lambs everywhere.

Of course, we had to market some of them or we would have been up to our navels in bleating beasts. Phyllis cried a bucketful of tears each time we dispatched a load to Morrell�s in Sioux Falls or to some other slaughter house.

She got so she hoped each new lamb would be female because then they would be spared to become mothers, while the boy sheep took the doom�s day trip. It finally dawned on me that that�s how we got so many.

We ultimately had Pooky, Jingo, Nancy, Angel Face, Prunella, Stomper (I and II), Libby, Pebbles, Daisy, Freckles, Little Black Girl, Simon Farkle and Pepper. We began to run out of names, so we called one a �mournful-eyed ewe� for lack of anything better. Phyllis � and the girls � insisted upon naming them, which made it harder to say goodbye when the time came.

Incidentally, there is nothing so pathetic looking as a freshly shorn ewe. They stand around with all their boney parts � and bags � showing. Their nakedness caused by the wool removal gave them an appearance that only a mother could love.

But Phyllis � the Sheep Lady � never minded the annual ritual because it gave us some return for our labors. She didn�t cry when we took the fleeces to Menno, and for a time, we even got a small government subsidy, for which our city friends accused us of feeding at the federal trough.

All of these things � and more � came tumbling back as the result of that diary. In a way, it was like World War II. The experience was interesting and worthwhile � but I wouldn�t want to go through it again.

� 2005 Robert F. Karolevitz

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