Monday, August 28, 2006

(manson, ia) flock together

dad with fake sheep and real ribbon

My father raised sheep for roughly six decades, but is now out of the business. For real. He got out of the business once before, but then secretly brought a few back, which resulted in a spell in which a regular feature of calls home to my mother was her saying bitterly, "I know he's got sheep out there. He's not fooling anyone."

We would show sheep at the Iowa State Fair. I have actually the night on the floor of the Iowa State Fair's sheep barn. (Being a bad sleeper, even as a kid, I'm not sure how much I slept in that barn. I've also gotten a horrendous case of food poisoning from a chili dog at the Iowa State Fair, which brought my chili dog eating career to a premature but permanent end.) Anyway, my father misses fair culture, and this year as a joke he slipped into the show ring carrying a stuffed sheep. The judges gave him an honorable mention ribbon.

My father told me this story within fifteen minutes of my arrival Thursday night. He told it several more times the next couple days. He was clearly very pleased with himself. My mother seemed more of the view that this was Another Embarrassing Thing Dad Had Done. A few years ago I probably would have at least tacitly concurred with her. This year, I said affably that she should give Dad a break. I've become more X of my dad in recent years, where X is some word that is neither "sympathetic" nor "appreciative," but does contain a combination of those sentiments, as well as some others.

As it turns out, we still do have sheep. My father has borrowed maybe twenty head from a farmer friend to graze our land. I haven't done livestock judging since back when I was in 4-H, but they seem a rather homely herd:



Gwen said...

I, too, was in 4-H and judged livestock. Which I suppose comes as a surprise to no one. I showed steers, but we were expressly prohibited from sleeping on the floor of the barn with our animals, no matter how much we might want to.

I quit showing steers the year the person who bought my steer sent me pictures of my dear calf, in steak, hamburger, and roast form, a couple of months after the sale. He thought I would be very proud. I was instead horribly traumatized, as I had convinced myself it was somehow like in Black Beauty, where my steers were bought by some nice person and allowed to live out their natural lives in a pasture, doing not much of anything.

Allen said...

Knowing, as I do, absolutely nothing about sheep, those sheep look fine to me. I can understand how it might be hard to quit cold turkey.

Lucy said...

Black-faced sheep are the cutest! I think your father's prize-winning sheep does look better than the real ones, though :)

Anonymous said...

This is my favorite post ever!!!

Katie said...

I love your dad....I don't know your dad, but I love him.

Danielle said...

They're cute -- although their legs seem kind of long, kind of pony-ish. Has there been some gene splicing down at the Freese Family Farm?