One more beautiful guest post from Sara Dunham reflecting on a special member of her flock.
I buried an old friend yesterday, a Jacob ewe who was at least 16, if not older. Elizabeth. Or as she was called for the last couple of years, Queen Elizabeth. I’m not sure about large flocks, but in my small hand spinner’s flock, there was a definitely leader and it was Elizabeth.
Elizabeth ruled with a stern hoof and didn’t just rule the sheep flock, but the shepherd as well. She let me know when it was time to feed and how much food to put out. I was short on hay one day and I set out about 2/3 of what I usually did and she knew and let me know she knew.
After that I’d periodically test her by setting out either fewer piles or the same number of piles but less hay in each pile. She’d quickly survey the scene, weighing it all out and never failed to notice if the amount was wrong.
I got started in spinning because of another old sheep, my first sheep, Punkin. Near the end of his life I was encouraged to take all that wool that I’d given away each year at shearing and have it spun into yarn so I could knit a sweater as a momento. I found a local spinner and then taught myself to knit. Little did I know how that would change my life.
I thoroughly enjoyed knitting and my husband convinced me to give spinning a try and bought me a wheel. I was hooked. We decided to add a few more sheep and Elizabeth was in that first group. Last year I saved her shearing, spun it myself and knit a sweater.
I wanted to get a picture of the two of us together, dressed alike. Elizabeth had no such desire. First we tried to force some pictures in the little lamb shed she’d moved into once she got too feeble to stay with the main flock. Then I tried sneaking up on her as she sat out in the grass.
A little closer and a little closer and a little closer.
And for a split second we both looked up.
And then she tootled off. This silly series of photographs is the perfect way to remember her. That and a warm, comfy sweater.
Thanks so much Sara for your beautiful posts which reflect such depth of feeling for WOOL and for your flock; we at WOVEMBER love the warmth and depth with which you write about your animals: thanks for all you’ve added to WOVEMBER this year!