Week 51: Right
Word Count: 490
Make the Right Move
(But Watch Where You Step)
By Maggie Robertson
“Dad, the sheep are out, and in your Mother’s garden again!”
Our fences never seemed to work. I have a classic photo from my childhood; my father is fixing the fence, with the two pigs, the calf, and the dog, all watching him from the wrong side of the property line. Eventually life got busy, and those critters turned into neat little white packages in the deep freeze (well, not the dog.) The fields were unoccupied for quite a few years, but, as we all know, sheep happen.
In between an earthquake in California, and a Peace Corps stint in Poland, I had the adult privilege to live and work with my parents. When my Father told me to watch out for Charlie, I thought he was referring to the old guy who sometimes came around the shop to help him, but it turned out Charlie was the ram (I cannot remember the names of the two ewes, but wherever Charlie went, they would follow.)
My parents have an old stone farmhouse that is built into a hill; the slope past the kitchen window and back porch is quite steep. That year my Grandmother’s garden was in the back yard at the top of the hill, behind the house. The sheep loved it, hence the late afternoon call out to my Dad, who was the one person willing to take on Charlie. Charlie was built like a horizontal brick smokehouse, and moved on his own time. Dad had a temper.
My Father headed up the hill with a two-by-four and a tow chain. With one end of the tow chain around Charlie’s neck, and the other end around the two-by-four over his shoulder, my Father headed down the hill toward the barn. Charlie had no choice but to follow. Much to my Father’s dismay, around half-way down the hill the tow chain went slack. Charlie was headed down the hill under his own power, right behind my Father. Dad dropped the chain and started running, but stepped right into one of the land mines left by his adored Labrador retriever, slid several feet and tumbled end-over-end down the hill. Charlie and the ewes ran right past him and into the barn. My Mother and I were observing all this from the back porch, and we did manage to stop laughing long enough to ascertain that Dad wasn’t seriously hurt.
My Father, in his wisdom and generosity, put on a repeat performance for us the following day.
“Dad, the sheep are out and in your Mother’s garden!”
Same time of day. Same garden. Same temper. Same two-by-four. Same tow chain. Off he went down the hill. The chain went slack, and in the same spot there was a fresh dog pile. Dad skidded and tumbled down the hill, Charlie and the ewes ran right past him and into the barn.
On the third day, the sheep belonged to someone else.