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The Young Pretender

There is always a lamb or two here on this farm who thinks it is a dog. Eventually as they grow up, the belief slowly recedes in their minds, resurfacing on occasion, only to be abandoned in a moment or two. In other words, they stop trying to open the kitchen door and come into the house.

This years young pretender is different. To all practical purposes, at the moment, he lives the life of a dog. A well trained one at that. He is a bottle lamb, of course, although one or two of the others have not been. It makes the transition to the role of dog (read pet) that much easier. He "heels" like a dog, although that could be said of other lambs, as well, as in "Mary had a little ......". Comes when called. Loudly demands his bottle the moment he hears my footstep on the stair, early morning. Vociferously, at that. A maa, maa, maa accompanying the woof, woof, woof of Fly Flannagan, puppy extraordinaire, who sleeps in the kitchen.

No, the lamb does not live in the kitchen, nor does he live in the house, nor, for that matter, with the sheep with whom he will have no part. He has chosen to live in the mudroom. To which there is no exterior door. Free to eat grass, if he wishes, or can so be persuaded. Free to come and go. Although to go is a rarity. By day he sits in a corner framed by a box bench and my boots. By night the box bench becomes his bed. He climbs quite nicely onto it. Arranges himself neatly for the night. And sleeps. By day he follows me everywhere, accompanies me among the sheep, at my heels like a dog and returns to the house with me. Only to be shut out. He shall stay, of course. Never, however, to be sold for meat. His face has the gleam of his East Friesian Father and his fleece has the silky feel of the breed's as well. I don't know who his mother is. I suspect but don't know for certain. There was a beautiful lamb born here last summer, abandoned by a yearling. She had no intention of nursing him. He was a mirror image of this lamb. He, too was intended to stay. A prospective flock sire. He died after a valiant struggle with the coccidiosis outbreak that so devastated my young stock last year. I was heartbroken. I cautioned myself against becoming too attached again. I so loved Little Boy, last years most charming lamb. This one is even more bonded to me than Little Boy was. He hasn't been named as yet, although The Young Pretender keeps coming to mind as a possible choice. It is too soon to make a decision. But The Young Pretender seems to fit.

Last evening he came out with me to sit by the portable chicken coop. All of the sheep managed to break into my South Pasture. The one in which I am stock piling unclipped grass for the young stock. I sat down for a few minutes to watch the chickens. They are beautiful, these Buff Orphingtons. An experiment that failed. (They reputedly lay eggs all winter) but beautiful none-the-less. There are six left, plus one Rhode Island Red, and two of my original hybrid chickens. They have decided to lay again. Four or five eggs a day. I hesitate to even think how much the eggs are costing me. But they serve for my breakfast, and sometimes even supper. And they certainly are pretty.

The little lamb who thinks he is a dog climbed into my lap, his chin on the crook of my elbows, and settled in. The sheep milled about. They like it when I am eye level with them, and they can come over to me and put their faces near mine. They look good, so far this year of cold temperatures and short grass. The chickens look good, too. As does The Young Pretender, future flock sire, pet sheep (his decision), singular out of a flock of a hundred. The Young Pretender he has become.

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