Last fall when I decided not to get three more lambs from our former shearer Liz, I was making a decision about my future.
Thinking ahead about my life is not something I’ve done much. I’ve never set goals for myself or even had expectations. My life has been more of a series of reactions.
But at this point in my life, having sheep has changed that.
I wasn’t ready to write about it when I made that decision about the lambs. I made my choice and then put it aside, letting the implications of it settle.
I have eleven sheep. Five are over eight years old, and six are under five years old. Robin is my youngest sheep and can easily live for another ten years. By then I’d be 68 years old.
Jon is 17 years older than me and already he has less and less to do with the care of the animals. I have no idea how I’ll feel when I’m 68 and things can of course change at any time. But there’s a good chance I won’t want to have a flock of young sheep to take of care for years to come.
It’s true that I could always get more sheep now and give them away if I no longer want them.
But that’s not always an easy thing to do, especially if the sheep are old. As I stood in the barnyard a few days ago, considering my options, I thought about taking my sheep to the livestock auction up the road where they would most likely be sold for slaughter. I couldn’t even bear imagining it.
It’s a change, and one that makes me a little sad to think about, which is why it took me so long to write about. But it feels like a good decision. And accepting the reality of where I am in life and taking responsibility for my sheep in this way makes me feel I’m doing the best I can for them and myself.
Of course, I know that things may change. That our plans are what give the gods the best laugh. But for right now, this decision feels like the right one.
So there is a shift in the reality of the farm and her animals, but the change is a gradual one that will evolve with me, Jon, the animals, and our lives on Bedlam Farm. And even if these are our last sheep, we still have many years on the farm with them.
I’m also aware, from experience, that when one thing in my life ends, another, often unexpected thing opens up.