Cuddly, black, meek?
I cared for sheep on my parents farm when I was young. I also bought a flock the year before I married. The older ewes were skittish and wary of our presence. Unless of coarse we were carrying a bucket of delicious pellets for them to nibble on. They also didn’t mind our presence when they were about to lamb. Shaking some fresh straw in their pen, hanging a heat lamp to warm the new arrival when it tumbled into our world, calmed the uncomfortable momma. Spilling out onto the bed of gold the lamb looked like something slimy the cat coughed up. Cuddly would not be my first word to describe them. Only moments later, licked clean and dried, you absolutely wanted to scoop it into your arms to cuddle.
Days later the toddler would be hopping and bobbling about. Mamma sheep was protective of her youngster. Stomping her foot whenever she felt someone would possibly be a threat. The braver and more adventurous the little ones became, the less momma sheep would worry. Becoming ever more understanding of our help in raising the latest members of the flock.
People use sheep as a way of describing characteristics or mannerisms of others. The term, black sheep, was meant to refer to someone who was odd or disreputable, like the troublemaker in a family.
I always find this odd, as we had several black sheep in our flock. None of them were any more troublesome than the other sheep. They behaved like the rest of the flock in every way shape and form. The only difference was the color of their wool, which of course I found to be absolutely special. My sisters and I named all of our sheep, and tried to claim certain ones as our favorites. Sheep bearing specific markings or color were the first to be chosen. Strange how often that is the opposite in the human world.
Also peculiar, is the phrase describing someone as sheepish. A sheepish person is thought to be embarrassed, uncomfortable or self-conscious. None of the sheep in our flock had any problem coming up to us in search of extra food. Nor did they feel squeamish about dropping a pile of blackened pea looking nerds in front of us as we walked them to their summer pasture near the pond.
Young lambs were definitely not uncomfortable leaping about crazily like bits of exploding popcorn. I wonder, how did this description come about?
To be called a sheep, means to suggest that a person simply follows the crowd. That they are meek and easily led.
My daughter and her husband were recently called this as they walked, wearing their masks, amongst some outdoor diners. They were bewildered as mask mandates had already been in place in many cities.
These inconsiderate and uninformed customers must have neither knowledge of sheep nor people. Both simply choose to make their own decision based of the information and past experiences at their disposal.
Having walked my sheep to their summer pasture as they had for several years, it was clear that they were not being herded nor led. They simply knew from past experience that there were higher grasses at the turn of the gate down the end of path to the pond. Buck, our ram, wanted nothing to do with being told where to go. He gave us the evil eye. A threatening cock of his head, as if to say, “I’ll do it, I’ll butt you if you try to push me too far.”
I wouldn’t mind being compared to a sheep. I know them to be cuddly. Often dark and with special markings. Certain to be looking for greener pastures on the other side of a gate. And of course, on my youthful feeling days, as springy as a freshly popped kernel of corn.
Sheep are not simpletons, nor do they require only simple care. If you’re considering keeping sheep as pets, check out the following article. https://www.storey.com/article/skinny-on-keeping-sheep-as-pets/