Bo Peep

In 1982, Alan and I moved to a small farm near Corvallis,
Oregon. Alan was interested in a self-sustaining life style and I,
since a small boy, had been interested in agriculture. Our plan
was to grow our own food and firewood for heating. We planted
a garden, bought several young steers, and raised rabbits and lots
of chickens. Alan even made a wood stove in high school shop
class which heated our farmhouse in the cold Oregon winters.

One day Alan came up with the idea that he wanted to
butcher a sheep, thinking we could keep the mutton in the
freezer for winter. One Saturday we cranked up the old
Studebaker truck and went to a country auction. We watched
the auctioneers auction off beef cattle of all types and sizes,
some milk cows, a couple of horses and some goats before they
brought out the sheep. We had in mind bidding on a sheep, but
the problem was the 5~were auctioned in-groups and we
wanted only one.

After all the batches of sheep were sold, the auctioneers
brought out one sheep, all by itself. The odd thing about this
lone sheep was that it was much bigger than all the others we
had seen.._ Alan asked me-if we-should bid on it, and I said "OK,
let's give it a-try".

Alan made a rather low offer for the sheep, I don't
remember the exact amount, and after a brief pause the
auctioneer said "sold" because there were no other bids. Alan
and I both got puzzled looks on our faces, wondering why his was
the only bid and whether there was something wrong with the
sheep we had just bought. Anyway, there was nothing to do but
pay our money and load the oversized sheep onto our truck.

When we got back to the farm, we put the sheep in the
barnyard and went into the house to get supper. My mother and
father were living with us at the time, so the four of us were
sitting at the dining room table when we heard a strange noise at
the kitchen door. Alan got up to see what was going on, opened
the door, and in walked the sheep. As sheep are normally shy
and keep away from people, we were dumbfounded when it
bolted right into the kitchen.

It took the two of us, pulling and shoving, to get the
stubborn animal out of the house and back down to the
barnyard. This time we made sure the gate was locked, and
went back to the house.

We were sitting at the table finishing our dinner when we
heard another noise at the kitchen door. Sure enough, the sheep
had gotten out of the barnyard and was clawing at the door. This
time we put a rope around her neck and tied her to a tree.
The next morning when we went out to check the sheep we
realized that she was so friendly, in fact overly friendly, that she
must have been someone's pet. We also realized that there was
no way we could butcher this friendly animal, so we abandoned
that idea and let her be what she wanted to be - a big, pesky pet.
Some months later Alan went off to Reed College in
Portland, about seventy miles away. He often came home to the
farm on weekends, a couple of times bringing college friends
with him. One day shortly after the beginning of his sophomore
year, he phoned and said he would be coming to get the sheep,
which he wanted to take back to Reed College with him. He was
going to the Halloween Ball as Little Bo Peep, who, of course,
needed a sheep.

Although I find it difficult to imagine, I still smile every time
I think of a man six feet four inches tall, wearing a long pink
dress with a blue ribbon tied around his waist, wearing high
heeled shoes and a wide brimmed ladies hat, leading a big live
sheep around the dance floor at a Halloween ball. Alan later told
me that one of the college administrators approached him and
asked what would happen if the sheep did it's business on the
dance floor. Alan answered that there wasn't much he could do
about it, that if it happened, well, it would just happen. Luckily
the sheep behaved itself and Alan, and the sheep, got the first
prize for the best costume at the ball.

A year so later when I decided to sell the farm, the question
arose as to what to do with the sheep, who by that time had
become a full-fledged member of the family. Happily, the people
who bought the farm had a little girl who immediately fell in love
with the sheep, so she remained on the farm after Alan and I
left, very likely to live there happily ever after.