Sheep are not known to be philosophers. When they are referred to as outstanding in their field, that’s really all they are. Standing, munching and ruminating.
When I showed market lambs as a socially awkward youth, it was cool to squat as close to the ground as possible in the showring while holding the lamb’s chin in the air. He looked regal and the showman looked like they were channeling a confused ostrich, hiding behind the lamb.
I raised breeding ewes and market lambs and I had a ewe lamb that I planned to keep as a breeding ewe. In the showring, it was necessary to brace the market lambs with one’s knee, slightly lifting their front legs off the ground to give the judge an impressive handful of lamb muscle. When I did this, it became immediately apparent to all that this lamb’s tail had been docked too short. She prolapsed and volumes of bloody, slick organs spilled from her only to be hurriedly replaced by another 4-Her’s father as I stood red with embarrassment enough for both of us.
The lamb wasn’t hurt, we gave her antibiotics to fight any bacteria that she may have fallen prey to and we returned her to her pen. I could place only one of my market lambs in the Livestock Sale that evening and I had planned to sell my wether, a castrated male that I couldn’t utilize to produce next year’s club lambs.
I felt guilty that my beautiful, long loined, feminine headed ewe lamb could not be used for breeding as the prolapse would recur again and again. I had to sell her as a slaughter lamb and I did.
Years later, I find myself thinking about the prolapsed ewe and feeling a bizarre sisterhood with her. I am, in sheep years, getting longer in the tooth and am not being utilized for the purposes I had originally envisioned for myself. While not long loined, I am a mother to my two person flock.
It seems that when one’s purpose is challenged, even the strongest can prolapse. I opened my eyes and found myself lying in a pile with my guts all around me with no one around to protect, inoculate or treat me. Who knew there could be so much spill out of one body? I’m months after my 31st birthday trying to stuff my guts and heart back in to a hollow shell and hoping that someone has a shot that can treat my affliction. Hoping that somewhere there is a flock and a purpose for me rather than just a cold, concrete killing floor.