In May 2011, after four years of life on McNutt's Island, we moved to Montreal. This blog remains, though, as a (sort of) daily record of our time on the island, and a winding path for anyone who would like to meander about among its magical places. For additional perspectives and insights I recommend Greg's book, Island Year: Finding Nova Scotia (2010), and my Bowl of Light (2012). I'll continue to post once in a while. If you do want to read this blog, one option would be to begin at the beginning of it (which is, as we all know, in blog-world, at the end), and read forward, concluding with the most recent entry. It's a journal, really, so it does makes more sense if you read it that way. But, you know, read it any way you like.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

A sheep's tale

Six sheep are in the back orchard today.  We have to give up our theory that the sheep come around in the winter only when the tide is too high for them to eat the seaweed that has washed up along the shore.  Because the tide is not at a particularly high point. So there's more likely a simpler explanation for their visits. Maybe they are coming by more frequently now just because the snow has melted off.   

One young sheep here today has a tale attached to her. She was born  last May, but she missed getting her tail docked along with all the other lambs in July. Her long tail marks her as a bad flocker, or the lamb of a bad flocker.  So she would have been culled last October, lest she pass on that individualistic trait. But through a small sequence of events she escaped her fate. 

There's a hub-bub on culling day, because the shepherds are running all over the island trying to gather all the sheep, and the sheep are hiding in the woods or running away. One of the shepherds caught this particular long-tailed lamb and tied her to a tree along the side of the road.  He intended to go back later and pick her up after he had herded another flock down to the corral.  

In the meantime a couple of visitors came on the island that day. They knew nothing about the sheep gathering that was going on. They only saw a lamb tied to a tree. Not really thinking, but with the best of intentions, they untied the lamb and she scampered off into the woods.  The shepherds told us about it once they discovered what had happened, and asked us to keep a look out for her.  We did watch for her, and she turned up around the house later in the day.  But we decided not to go back down to the corral again, so we didn't have a chance to let the shepherds know she was here.  To tell the truth, our failure to act wasn't entirely innocent on our part. 

Greg even named her: Cassandra. She may not have a strong flocking instinct, but every time I see her she is with the flock. We know of one lamb whose flocking instinct was so bad he was constantly wandering off or being left behind and frantically bleating to his mother. He was a basket case from May to October, day and night. We were planning to make a special effort to point him out to the shepherds on culling day.  

But Cassandra is not like that. Maybe it was just bad luck that she missed the July gathering and ended up marked by her long tail. If so, then it was just good luck (for her, anyway) that those two strangers came along and untied her. 

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