My first thought was how unusual it was, then what a good picture it would make. I could go inside and get my iPhone, Fanny and Issachar might still be laying next to each other when I got back.
But it was Saturday, my Sabbath from going online and I also wanted it to be a picture-free day. I wanted to be able to experience the day instead of document it. Sometimes, I’ve noticed, when I take a picture of something, it then feels like it’s over. Like I don’t have to think about it or look at it anymore.
I wanted something different for my day.
So I gently opened the gate to the barnyard and quietly sat down on the rocks of the old barn foundation about five feet away from Fanny and Issachar.
Neither of them moved.
It’s been a while since I’ve sat with the sheep and donkeys. Winter can make the animals edgy. The constant cold, not being able to graze, the initial rush for hay and grain, and often being confined by the snow in small spaces.
But yesterday they were soaking in the sun, lazily chewing their cud as relaxed as if it were a summer day and all they needed or could want was before them.
After a while, Lulu, who was standing guard for Fanny while she rested, came over to me and lowered her head to mine.
I breathed in her familiar scent, warm hair, and fresh air. LIke the smell of laundry after a day on the clothesline, only better. At some point, Fanny got up and came over too. We sat together, each donkey nudging me gently with their nose when I stopped scratching their neck, under their chin, and ears.
When Lulu wandered off, Fanny stood next to me, both of us looking out over the marsh into the woods.
Then I felt another, more gently, nudge to the back of my head. I was surprised to see Issachar nuzzling up close to me. He put his face near mine so I rubbed his nose and cheeks. Then we were still, Fanny on one side of me Issachar on the other. I felt like one of them. Quietly accepted by my barnyard family as different as I am from them.
I left when they did.
Suddenly Suzy got up and started walking towards the back pasture. Kim and Socks were right behind her. It took the others a little longer to follow but they did.
Except for Lori, who stood looking behind her, then back at the rest of the sheep.
When I stood up I saw what she was looking at. Biddy was grazing by the south pasture and hadn’t seen the other sheep leave. Now Lori was calling to her, loud baa’s as she often did when Robin was a lamb.
So I walked over to Biddy and got her attention. She finally looked up and went to Lori, who then headed out, with Biddy behind her, to join the other sheep.
First Fanny and Issachar sleeping next to each other and now Lori, looking after Biddy.
Sure they bump heads sometimes, and Lulu will chase the sheep away from the hay feeder when she feels like it. But the donkeys and sheep also have relationships that are often invisible to me.
And maybe because I put my camera down for a while, I got a peek at some of them yesterday.