Little Lady Marigold is the precious, diminutive, wild sheep I have always wanted. She is opinionated, lucid, brave, and full of energy.
She got her fancy name by two strokes of beautiful timing. First, I asked Handsome and Jessica separately for name ideas, and within an hour of each other they both texted, “Little Lady.” Then I added “Marigold” because the day she arrived here at our farm was the first day my French marigolds bloomed that spring. So she became Little Lady Marigold, LLM for short.
Little Lady Marigold is a Shetland sheep, diminutive in stature but bold in spirit. Her fleece is mostly white or white adjacent, dirty after many months of growing free and wild, and her face and legs are coal black. Lovely. I cannot get enough of gazing into her domed eyes and slotted pupils.
LLM is lightning fast and agile, able to glide and bolt low and quick, in and around both trees and horse legs alike. She is skeptical and fussy and makes you earn her trust, which I respect. When Klaus is being just too much, she raises one of her stiffened front legs, tiny black hoof shining with anger, and bows her forehead as if to warn him of a good noggin ramming (which, in fact, she is very able to deliver). We call this warning the Stick Leg Treatment. It looks like a great, fluffy praying mantis preparing to do battle, and it almost always shoos Klaus and any other nearby animal, including her huge pasture mate Romulus the King of Llamas, right away. On the rare occasion that the Stick Leg Treatment does not work, she squares off, keeps that woolly head lowered, and charges forward in mean, fearless thrusts until her opponent is properly humiliated and retreats. No one has bested her yet, and she is the tiniest of all our animals, save the cats and chickens.
Marigold was borderline feral when we first brought her here. It took many weeks of slow, quiet movements and cautious approaches to convince her to eat sweet grain out of my hands, and now she practically climbs my leg when I swing it over the gate to her enclosure. I love scruffing her pretty face and stroking her slender, knobby legs. Her hooves are unbelievably tiny! And that wool, you guys, oof!! It is voluminous and full of mystery (also sticks and dried leaves). If I have a lucky day and get to handle her enough, my hands feel oily and a bit slick from the lanolin. She is usually pretty content having the heaps of gray and white wool on her back scruffed. Or, perhaps this is the truth, there is so much there that she cannot always feel me scruffing her?
Speaking of that massive woolly burden, our Shetland sweetie is destined for a spring shearing this year, so I have begun desensitizing her to a halter, noisy with metal buckles, during hand feeding. I wear it on my wrist like a bracelet, making it necessary for her face to be almost up against it while she nibbles grain from my palm. Occasionally I jingle the buckle and flip the straps, so she gets used to seeing and hearing it while staying safe. She absolutely hates it, ha! But if this slow, steady process works, it will lead to her next level of elegance and domesticity and to my next life accomplishment. I’ll keep you posted.
Little Lady Marigold’s favorite song is Norwegian Wood by The Beatles, followed closely by Never Gonna Gove You Up by Rick Astlee, if I have just left the duck pond and chicken coop. Soft songs. Easy words. Pretty things that cool her hot temper. She sleeps either beneath a wild cedar tree near the pond-facing hill or in her little shed. Also in the hay! Rather than calmly eat from the outer surface of a large hay bale, she burrows deeply in it, snoot forward, then naps in the tunnel she has eaten away. Upon waking she emerges with an ill balanced hay bonnet. I love this more than words can say. Which is another song she might like. I’ll try it.
Little Lady enjoyed a good, healthy, stress free week of winter here, for which we are so thankful. She is spicy and personable, and I just love her so much. If you ever visit the farm and want to meet her, don’t be shy! I’ll take you over and make the proper introductions. Just know that so far, my little sister Genevieve is the only other person who has successfully hand fed this animal. I think the secret is that Gen didn’t care that much. She lacked the stench of desperation most visitors emit, ha.
Okay that’s it for today! I just wanted to share some of my sheep love.
I hope you’re having a beautiful weekend filled with everything that refreshes your soul. Remember you are deeply and wildly loved, your potential is untapped, and your emotions and imagination have actual creative power in this world.
“Patience is passion tamed.”
P.S. President Roosevelt also kept Shetland sheep, but one of his rams attacked several people and killed a small boy, so he had to relocate them all to Monticello. The End.