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Sheep at Sunset

Posted 1/18/2012 7:18am by Julie Hurst / Roy Brubaker.

Yesterday was cold, wet, and dreary.  I had errands to run in morning and indoor work to do in the afternoon. Once or twice I went outside to let the dogs out for a break or to put wood on the stove, but the dogs and I were equally interested in returning to our warm shelters. When the girls arrived home from school at 3:45, my "farm" work was necessarily and happily interrupted and my attention turned to their stories, their "desperate need of something to eat, NOW!" dinner plans, and the day's news on the radio. This sudden activity was a jolt to my quiet day (as I'm sure any parent with school age children can attest) and when the girls were settled into doing homework or playing, I slipped outside to check on the sheep. 

In the interim the day's rain had ended, the air was warm, and the light, so steely and gray earlier, was an incredible, luminescent gold. Perhaps you saw this sunset. I went about my business making sure the sheep's water tank was full, turning off the woodstove fan, kicking an old soccer ball for Mac and Pip, and in between, standing still to enjoy the glowing world around me. When I suspected the water tank was full I turned towards the sheep pasture; the sheep were standing still facing west too. There is a group of young ram lambs in our  far west paddock and my first thought was they were watching each other, but the ram lambs were facing west as well.  I've seen sheep stand still, all facing the same direction in the rain, usually with their faces away from the direction the rain is coming, but I've never witnessed this sort of... reverence? appreciation of beauty? fascination? from the flock.  The dogs didn't seem to notice the glorious sky; they were too busy chasing each other, dashing about looking for something to do. So there I stood with the sheep, facing west, bathed in radiant tranquility and wondering about this flock of wooly, sober, skittish sheep standing still beside me. They were lovely company as the sun sank low and shimmering sky gave way to darkness.