Thursday, May 23, 2013

Bellwether



“Walk, shepherdess walk, and I’ll walk too,
To find the ram with the ebony horn and the gold footed ewe,
The lamb with fleece of silver, like summer sea foam,
The wether with the crystal bell that leads them all home.”
(Eleanor Farjeon)

Yesterday, we lost an old friend. Dave buried Christmas in the compost pile in front of the barn. We will miss her.

Christmas was our bellwether. A bellwether is, traditionally, a wether, a castrated ram, who wears a bell and leads a flock of sheep. The shepherd knows where the flock is and if they are in trouble by listening for the bell. If the bell is ringing hard, the sheep are running and it’s very likely that something is chasing them. When he calls them home, he can hear their progress from the ringing of the bell.

Christmas was not a wether and she didn’t wear a bell, but she served as the bellwether for our flock. She was unafraid of people and when we walked into the pasture, she came to us. When we wanted to lead the sheep into a new pasture, Christmas was the first through the gate and the more cautious sheep followed her.

We will miss Christmas most for her friendliness. Christmas could be relied upon to welcome visitors bearing a handful of cheerios or corn. She’d nuzzle hands and baa encouragingly. The visitors were always enchanted. Sometimes the curious lambs would follow Christmas and they too would learn to appreciate visitors and the gifts they bear.

Christmas is gone, but Amy, a bottle lamb last year, joined Christmas when she greeted us at the gate, and will hopefully become our new bellwether. I’ll have to begin carrying cheerios in my pockets again.

1 comment:

  1. So sorry, Joan. It is hard to lose an old friend.

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