My answer is always the same. She's fine, but she's fresh out of ewes and gamboling lambs. She gets her kicks out of watching Animal Planet on television.
At least our place doesn't smell like lanolin anymore.
I don't know why folks have such a thing about sheep. We count them to go to sleep. We say someone is sheepish if he's shy. And a college graduate gets a sheepskin to prove that he's hung around for four years or more.
But for the life of me I can't account for the fascination with the animal. If this were Australia, I think I could understand it.
When I write a column about sheep and Phyllis's interest in them, I'm amazed at the attention it gets. Obviously the readers have never had to go to the barn in the middle of the night – or had to stand by the kitchen sink, soaking a new-born lamb in warm water to give it life when it was found frozen and abandoned.
I asked my wife if she gets a vicarious thrill by watching Animal Planet, and she said she did. "But I only see the good parts," she confessed. "I don't like it when a lion kills a deer, or when they do gory things to one another."
"If a pack of hyenas gorge themselves on a carcass of a dead zebra, I don't look at that either," she added.
That accounts for the times I caught her teary-eyed on the sofa waiting from a more pleasurable scene.
"I like the little animals best," she says. "The cats and dogs are so cute." "But how about sheep?" I wanted to know. "After all, you ARE the Sheep Lady."
"That's all behind me now," she acknowledges. "We've got a backyard with lots of yummy grass, so I could keep a couple of ewes there – but the neighbors wouldn't like it; and city officials frown on that sort of thing."
"So I guess I'll have to give up my title," she announced sheepishly. "It wasn't very becoming anyhow."
"But what will I tell people who ask about you?" I asked.
"Just tell them that I've retired from the sheep business," she answered. "No longer will I be stomping fleeces in the wool sack; my days of seeing that the fences are ewe-proof are over;" and I won't have to worry about ticks anymore."
There you have it.
The Sheep Lady is a thing of the past. I'll miss the reference to her when I meet people in the street, and they ask about her. But then all's well that ends well!
I also will have to find other column material.
© 2006 Robert F. Karolevitz