Many Gifts

It’s been so long since I have posted in my blog – but this happens. I have posted on the puppies facebook page, and of course on my own page… but here it is: Things happen and we go through phases and moods, like the tides, and the seasons and the moon. Today I was reflecting on the highlights of my day, and they were so delightful I had to share them.

This morning as I was feeding the sheep, I had Gabbit, Aanandi, Abhithi and Savannah in the dog yard. Normally, I do not put Gabbit in the yard during sheep chores of any kind, because he will jump the fence. But he’d been good lately, and I’d raised the height of the fence. Also Savannah is usually annoyingly vocal about my choice to perform any task without her, so it’s more pleasant to put the more temperate girls in the yard during chore time. So as I stood there by the ram pen, giving them a visual inspection, Gabbit jumps into the ram pen from the yard. I had specifically raised the height of that section of fencing where he’d become a habitual jumper. I scolded him sharply, telling him to “get back in the yard.” Well I’ll be a feathered frog… he jumped back in the dog yard. Okay I made up that expression. You know how some folks have these expressions that always elicit a smile or a giggle? Like “I’m fine as frog’s hair.” It’s not so unusual for Gabbit to return to the dog yard when commanded. The Gift was that I was not at the back door attached to the dog yard. I was not calling him too me. I was commanding him to go AWAY from me. So that was a GOOD BOY! And Gabbit likes to be a GOOD BOY!

This evening I had one of those evenings where I feel such incredible joy and devotion in my life. Really I came home to some signs of mayhem, as the steel ladder that goes to the hay loft was laying on the ground… by it’s position, I was immediately concerned someone was hurt. I had to assume the sheep brought the ladder down. But I was not seeing Jo… so I began walking tentatively to the Night Pen, wishing I’d grabbed my pistol, and noted Mary had arrived. I asked her where Jo was, and she had a worried look on her face. Well if I needed my pistol, the sheep would not be standing calmly… but still I could feel that sense of chaos. But there was Jo, asleep in the sheep shed. He was not immediately interested in following me back to his side of the barn, which is like a parking port, beside the hay loft. But he did, after I’d counted the sheep and lambs, and confirmed all were present.

Once inside with the dogs, who had their long potty breaks and walks/runs, and I with my chores done, I sat by the computer and began to play fetch with everyone. Well of course Jai wanted to play like Godzilla, instead of playing the indoor version of fetch and keep away. So I sent him outside for his private time, so he could meditate. Meanwhile, I had Gabbit, Abhithi, Aanandi and Savannah watching my hand and the magic white hairy ball toy. Their faces were priceless, and their rapt captivation intoxicating. Yes that’s it… they were as stoned on that ball as a cat on catnip. We’ve worked out this fetch game with the accuracy of a great football team. I will indicate that I will pass to Gabbit, with ever so small a gesture, and I will throw a fast pass… he never misses. He will catch with all four feet off the ground. Soon I was laughing without inhibition, with as much delight as a child who knows no hardship. I laughed at Gabbit’s speed and drive for the ball. He is such a professional, and the girls, despite their own intense drives, seem so delicate beside him. Truth be told, they don’t want to lose their faces against his lightening fast attacks on the ball. Gabbit always returns the ball with full belief that I will throw again quickly, so he deposits the ball at my feet with a toss. I must teach him to put the ball in my hand, as I’ve taught Savannah and Jai.

Then I throw to Abhithi. She is so cute, she “hurts my heart.” She is a magnificent creature, full of vim and vigor. She is a Sheltie on Steroids, vocal about most all things, and extreme in all manner of expression. She cannot go to the back door without leaping 4-5 feet in the air and throwing all four feet against it, before returning to the ground, squeaking in her Soprano voice with each leap. So I throw to her, and she catches the hairy ball, then quickly positions herself away from Gabbit so he will not steal the ball. He is nearly twice her size, yet she tells him “MINE!” If I feel he will be unfair, I tell him “let her have it!” and he does. Abhithi always returns the ball to me, because like Gabbit, her treasure is to chase and catch the ball.

Then I will throw for Aanandi. The moment I gesture that it’s her turn, she rears up like a horse, over and over, saying “Me! It’s ME!!!!” Aanandi has more bite and tug drive than retrieve drive. For her, possession is part of the game. Possession is only a rewarding behavior if someone else want what you have of course. She will hold the ball, and tonight, something new… she offers me the ball! Yet she will not release it, so we tug. I let her win, and finally she will give me the ball. I throw again and again, delighting in the young dogs’ joy and skill.

For Savannah, the throws were few, as the ball was not a tennis ball, which is one of her passions. She couldn’t seem to grasp that a ball was bigger than a tennis ball, and so this one popped from the front of her muzzle, back into my hands. She was tragically disappointed by the whole game, and quickly retrieved a tug toy for me. Surely it would be more fun?

Soon Aarti was participating, but in her old annoying way. She would shark dive into the ball when Gabbit or Abhithi would drop it for me to throw. She’d grab the ball, and begin growling with glee. If I tried to take it, she got louder, and more delighted. It was so much more the merrier that Gabbit and Abhithi wanted that ball. She giggled, I swear she did, because she knew she was delaying the game. So finally, I’d ignore her, and she’d put the ball down. I’d try to sneak and grab it, but she was too fast… she’d snatch it and growl some more. Of course I’m referring to her talking, there is no real menace in her act, it’s all a game. Finally, I’d blow gently on her nostrils and she’d let go, though a few times, Gabbit told her “enough already” and grabbed the ball from her. Nobody wants to have possession of the ball when he snaps for it.

Finally I put the ball to bed, and went to watch the sheep through the window. This time of year, it’s like romper room. At one point, the sheep were all sleeping, the lambs curled up beside their mothers for warmth. It’s all very pastoral, but for noting that the ewes with lambs, in their maternal strength, have booted the yearlings out into the snow. They want the space for their lambs, and what was once a communal space is now the nursery. Later I looked again from my living room window, to see that all the lambs were up and and romping. They were leaping around, often on their mothers’ backs. At one point, Ellie’s white ram lamb was standing on her back, when Jonah, his sire, walked over and pushed him off her back. It was as though he was telling the lamb to “knock it off.” Ellie stood immediately, and I’m certain I heard her tell Jonah that “lamb-rearing” was HER business, no this. Surely there was at least a curse word uttered.

Then the little lamb was leaping in the air, and accidentally landed on his Grandmother katy’s head. This gave him an unfortunate landing on his side. Soon as he caught his breath, he was up again, and began to chew on his mothers ear.

Lambing season restores our soles and brings so much joy. This year is such a blessing after last year’s losses. All but one lamb is vibrantly healthy. I’m so grateful for my lovely animals, both the ones that feed us, and the ones that bring us warm woolen clothing.

Finally, I delight in freshly falling snow, as I snuggle into bed with the dogs.



About Intention Hill

Intention Hill is the name of my collective hobbies of raising Blackbelley Sheep, Belgian Shepherds, and art. The name stems from time spent with Gurumayi Chivilasananda, and the power of intention, and the many sacred events on Topovan in Ganeshpuri, India.
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