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The End of An Era

In the beginning there was Heidi,Luna and Beausifis-two ewes and a ram. Luna and Heidi, upon arrival at Star Light got pregnant by the ram. No surprise there. Luna’s two offsprings were Alice and Angelina. They were born at the very same time that we were made aware that for the third time, we’d be grandparents. Alice, as I wrote earlier, was put down a short while ago, to help ease her out of this world (and into the other one? who knows? not me). At that point, I was sure that Angelina wouldn’t last much longer on her own. Like Alice, she was having profound trouble getting up and moving around. Alice, though couldn’t get up and was heading towards a very uncomfortable end. And that’s why I intervened and asked the vet to send her along. Angelina, though was persistent and still had something in the tank. Whenever I approached her, she’d stumble to a standing position. There was a look in her eye that struck me as all about fortitude. She was ready to keep going and face whatever the future was going to dish out for her. Unlike Alice, Angelina did not like to be scratched between the horns. Instead of the feeling of enjoyment that we all know of when someone pays attention to a good place to scratch, she’d shake her head telling me to lay off. Ok. I get the hint. She did take an interest in smelling my hand when I brought it close to her nose. But that was about it. As the weeks went by after Alice’s death, it became more and more apparent that Angein’s health was going downhill. Still, though, she insisted on raising on all four feet when I approached.

For me, Star Light was taking on the role of Star Light Hospice. Between Joel, Jen and me, we made her as comfortable as we could. Fresh water, plenty of grain (that she often deferred to the squirrels) and hay. Most days were spent under the very large spruce tree very close to the house. I talked to her every time that I walked past her on the way to the farm. She didn’t say much, but then again, she never really did. Occasionally, she’d bray for a while, but that too subsided.

Lara, the sheep shearer (also a school teacher) offered to come shear her fleece so she’d be a bit cooler this Friday or Saturday. Lara has shorn all the sheep for the past 14 years. I wrote her back and told her I’d be at the markets and that this felt like Angelina’s last shearing and I wanted to be there to witness it. I also wanted to thank Lara in person for all her great work in the past.

This morning (Sunday) Joel sent me a text that Angelina had passed sometime in the night. A lot of feelings passed thru me right then, but rather than deal with them then, I got practical and wrote text to me kids to let them know about her dying. Also, sent a text to Lara thanking her for all she’d done and that it was no longer necessary for her to come.

Since it was very hot today, I knew that she’d have to go into the ground very quickly. As luck would have it, my neighbors, Will and Katie have a small excavator which Will was more than willing to use to dig a grave for her. A good thing, considering that a hand dug grave would have been almost insurmountable in today’s weather. So with some help, Angelina was laid in her new grave. Katie and their daughter went out to the zinnia patch in my front yard and picked flowers to lay on her head. Joel got the grain scope filled to the top with grain (which Angelina loved) and I placed the scope by her mouth. Will left the work gloves that he used for the work next to her, also. Shortly after that, Will got to work carefully putting the soil back into the grave. One thing that particularly struck me then was the permanence of what we were doing. Angelina is now done walking on the earth, breathing, eating grain and thoughtfully watching all of us as we went about our work day. And then there was that one moment when the very last of her got covered in dirt. That’s it, I thought.

It was at that point, that i began to explore some of those feelings that had immediately come to me upon hearing about Angelina’s death. I had, at that moment pushed them all aside but now had the time to lean into them. Fourteen years ago, Ty got these sheep because as an artist interested in drawing sheep, she made the decision to acquired a small flock as “models”. This flock of three eventually got as big as 9, but as time went by it settled on Luna’s two first daughters. Now they are both gone and it brings to a close Ty’s idea of having sheep. It was a great run-fourteen years worth. That fact made me sad thinking about those two endings. But then another prospective emerged. Several months ago, Joel and Jen bought 4 sheep. They deliberately chose the very same breed as Alice and Angelina-Jacobs. These are a sturdy, closer to wild breed. Joel and Jen wanted some continuity between the generations of sheep on the farm. That thought made me feel grateful. This thoughtful move on their part is all part of how Star Light will keep going when I’m no longer around. Somethings that are happening now-I’d be glad to see them end. Not Star Light.

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