I think I was somewhere around 14 years old when my mom decided to raise Shetland sheep as a hobby. For those of you who didn’t know that some breeds of farm animals are on the endangered species list yes, they too qualify. Shetland sheep come from the same island as Shetland ponies and just like the ponies are much smaller then horses Shetland sheep are much smaller than your average sheep. Keep in mind that a sheep raised by a kid in the 4-H can easily grow to be the same weight as the child’s father. Those sheep are breeds which are historically raised for meat. By comparison a Shetland when full grown will probably weigh about the same as a Labrador and are traditionally raised for their wool or fleece . When mom first started this endeavor I was not particularly happy and that’s an understatement. I didn’t see what the big attraction was and even though I didn’t necessarily want the breed to die out I didn’t see why she had to get involved. I was afraid that if she became involved with them that my quality time with her would disappear. Somewhere within the first or second year we had them we were at the State Fair where we met a guy about four years older them me who was also there with his sheep. Robert (not his real name) became my moms sheep mentor, because even though he was closer to my age then hers he still had more experience with sheep then her. At first I will admit to being more than a little bit jealous of the boy, he and mom routinely discussed sheep related topics for several hours on the phone. It wasn’t until the next state fair when Robert left half a pen full of unsheared sheep to push my manual chair around the fairgrounds that things change. I swear he may be the major reason I managed to graduate high school with a regular diploma because without him I sincerely doubt I could have passed the math competency test that I was required to take in order to graduate with a standard diploma. He was the first person to teach me how to be an effective self advocate with my high school and later college faculty. At one point he actually bought a truck almost solely on the criteria of whether the bed could transport my motorized chair. It was not uncommon for him to call me and tell me that he would take me out to lunch for no particular reason other than he could. His health has taken a downturn and he can no longer drive and is largely wheelchair-bound when he’s not in bed. Don’t ever think Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted tick fever can’t get you, they can. He taught me a lot, not the least of which is that lambs are awesomely cute.
October 22, 2011