I'd like to think that each of my sheep would get a blue ribbon for beauty and obedience, but in fact they are more like school drop-outs with borderline personality disorders. I had heard from a friend (and avid Dolce Mia fan) that she had given her sister the gift of Dolce Mia hair care and that her thank you note came in the form of a photo from the county fair. Apparently, my friend's nephew grabbed his mom's shampoo out of the shower (in this case Dolce Mia Tuberose) and used it to wash his calf in preparation for the fair. The thank you card had a picture enclosed of this little cowboy, his shiny clean calf and the blue ribbon he received. He credited the shampoo and felt like it was some sort of 4-H trade secret that he would keep in his Ag tool belt for years to come.
Upon hearing this wonderful story, I immediately wanted a blue ribbon for at least one of my flock, which worked well with my tandem dream of having clean, great smelling sheep. So I grabbed Pumpkin, the sweetest of the bottle-fed bunch, in my effort to see if I could somehow get her to blue ribbon status. I thought, “Pffff, I can easily wash, blow and style one of my docile sheep, they will do anything for me and my sidekick, a bucket of grain.”
Every single one of my five woolly darlings grew up in my kitchen, with me as their main ewe, providing their bottles of lamb formula (side note: one day I will post the lamb formula package picture, quite disturbing in it's white lamb perfection). Lambs are so unbelievably cute at a week old, their cloven hooves are tiny, clicking on the hardwood floor, and they absolutely have to be with me every second – and who doesn't want to be the most popular person ever?
Strengthening their obsession with me, I took them everywhere Jenny Mary went (I kid you not, Mary is my middle name). They still, at 200+ pounds, think that I am the best ewe ever and their drive to gather around me is beyond compare. AND I LOVE IT!
It is just what we want in our kids except, unfortunately, kids get to be teenagers and they become the anti-flockers (thank me later for that new term). My sheep are also willing, actually begging, to go on errands and road trips which is a blog post in upon itself for a later date. Sheep never, ever loose their instinct to flock, and the trick is to be at the center of the drive, something that I have perfected.
Back to Pumpkin: She came to me, a day old, covered in mud, during the fall many years ago. It was the day after Halloween, which I am pretty sure is the reason she tolerates being in costume and she is the hat wearer of the bunch. As a lamb, Pumpkin was super white, gleaming and soft, with a few blackish spots around her nose and hooves. She was a mix breed of Suffolk, which are the classic sheep, the ones that many a cartoon is based on, white with a black face and legs. Pumpkin was mixed with a white-faced breed with wool that is called “closed faced”, meaning that her wool comes further down her forehead. In comparison to my other sheep, which are mostly Suffolk, she had a propensity for bad hair days, making her the perfect candidate for an extreme makeover; the perfect gal for a day at the sheep wash.
She had no problem coming to my makeshift salon station over by the shed, which houses grain and mountain bikes. She sidled right up to the pile of grain and I thought I heard her say, “How come every time I leave the salon, my wool looks great and then the next day it is frizzy and all over the place again?” I started with a large, sheep-size 32-ounce bottle of Dolce Mia Tropical Citrus shampoo and a hose. My strategy was to start at the back and move forward, cleaning and rinsing an area, then moving to another area. I only made it to area number 3 on her back when I realized that I…wait, really, that Pumpkin, not I, were facing some problems.
These were sheep washing issues that no one had prepared me for! The biggest issue being that wet wool is heavy and I was noticing that Pumpkin's 9 year old arthritic hind quarters were drooping under the weight of water. As much as I wanted to have my girl looking abnormally sparkly and white, I just couldn't continue so I put a bow on her head and told her to smile for the camera. She obliged because she I imagined she felt so pretty, knowing a part of her, somewhere around the back, was white and smelled of the tropics. She knew that the others did not have anything close to that for their beauty routine and were just hanging around their pen with average looking lanolin.
Not in any way to ruin this post, but I must tell you that my dear Pumpkin is no longer with us, and instead in a heavenly flock now, where the grass is much greener and the Wet Cobb (grain covered in molasses) is abundant. In my imagination of her blissful sheep heaven, her manger walls are covered with blue ribbons, glamour shots of her taken at the mall and pictures of her friends at Crybaby Ranch. Lots of me and her main ram, AbraLamb Lincoln. She lived to a nice old age, never as clean as that day, but I had just trimmed her bangs before she passed so she was looking school-portrait ready. She will continually be featured in this blog as she is forever sweet and friendly, well-mannered and docile, forever a very dear part of my flock.