Thursday, April 21, 2005


The beautiful (at least in spirit, for I've never met her) and sharp and thoughtful lemming has recently learned that a sheep in New Zealand has been named after her. Was this, she asked, a compliment?

I bet it is a compliment. There is a sheep pasture outside my office window, and I find it quite calming to look at them as they move across the field. Sheep wool has provided me, and I assume many others lately, great pleasure in knitting, a service they have provided humans for thousands of years.

Those outside my window are naked, having just been sheared within the last week. There are new lambs, and in a few days they will all be running across the field, climbing over their mothers, all wrinkled and tall legged.

Sheep, though, have -- how can I say this kindly -- a bit of an anti-intellectual streak. At least among the usual farm animals. They're probably smarter than chickens, but of course, the smelly pig has it all over the rest, in terms of intelligence. And yet, the pig for the most part lives a year or two, or ends up growing so large they can hardly walk, and the sheep, except those marketed for veal or middleeastern and Greek dishes, continues to eat grass, run in the field, and provide a soft coat year after year.

The chapel at General Theological Seminary in New York is named after the Good Shepherd. Over the altar is a traditional white marble statue of Jesus as a shepherd, and at his feet a healthy ewe is looking up at his face. Sheep actually do not look up. Anything that goes up higher than directly in front of them goes out of their sight.

1 comment:

lemming said...

(hugs Don)

Thank you. I'm fond of sheep, myself - there's something very wonderful about lambing, even after reading _All Creatures Great and Small_.