School’s out for the summer! Well, kind of. There’s always one thing in the homework folder on the last day of school that needs to be done before the first day of school. It’s the required summer reading list for the next grade. Thankfully, all of our children love to read so every year they go happily to the local library early in the summer with that list in hand. This year, by the afternoon of the first day of summer vacation, my eldest daughter was already well into her first book. She had decided she was going to read all her summer books to her horse. When she had asked me what book I think he’d like, I said, “I don’t know, probably anything, I mean, he’s a horse.” She wasn’t amused. She finally decided on The Horse and His Boy by C.S. Lewis. Well, that makes sense. It’s about the adventures of two children and their talking horses in the Land of Narnia. Almost every day so far this summer, she brings her horse into the round pen and sits in the middle on a lawn chair with her book or slowly walks beside him in the pasture as he grazes and she reads. She reads out loud to him for hours. There are days she’ll come in from her story time disappointed when her horse seems to her more interested in eating grass than listening. Other times she’s certain he’s enjoying the book because of how he stands still quietly beside her and closes his eyes like he’s deep in thought. When he nibbled on the edge of her book, she expressed her relief that The Horse and His Boy happens to be one of our own and not from the library. One day she came to me worried about how what was said in the book may have hurt her horse’s feelings. In The Horse and His Boy, Bree, one of the talking horses, was captured and lived in a land as the only talking beast among “dumb and witless” horses. Since our horse doesn’t talk, she thought it was mean of her to have read Bree calling her horse “dumb and witless.” I told her to tell him it’s only fiction. She thought that was good idea. And off she happily went that day to pick up where she had left off in her summer reading.
We lost a sheep the other day. No matter how many you lose, it’s never easy, every one hurts. At least we found comfort in the way she was found. She had chosen a quiet corner of a pen tucked away inside our barn. There, she had breathed her last breaths. I remarked to my daughter how peaceful she looked, and even more comforting, how content. Her head was elevated slightly resting on a smooth rock and she looked like she was smiling. The way she was made it seem like in her final moments she had been thinking, “I had a good life.” I really hope so. She is survived by a daughter ewe, a grandson ram, and twin daughter lambs that are just at the age where they can take care of themselves. It was like she knew she couldn’t go until they didn’t need her anymore. What a good mamma she was! She was one of our oldest ewes and seemed to have the respect of the rest of the flock, just like Maa, the elder sheep in the movie Babe. I could see that sheep encouraging our others to humor our children and give in to their shepherding attempts. Our son was away on a Guatemala medical mission trip with my husband when she died. It made him really sad that he didn’t get to say goodbye. All we have of her now is a little lock of wool in a heart-shaped box that our sweet neighbor made for us. And, the memories of her living a good life on the franch.