Of magic sheep and other animals

fleece by Aisselle A T Gabegie
fleece, a photo  on Flickr.

June is the time for shearing the sheep and alpacas, and so Jay called on two strong men to perform the task. I was worried that the animals would catch colds without their woolly coats, but although the wind is still cool, the sun has been shining for a day or so, the orchard is sheltered, and of course they have the shed now too, so we decided to go ahead. We thought we’d round them up before the shearers arrived, but Boötes and Baaaarbara sensed that something was afoot and dashed around the orchard playing ‘catch me if you can’ and hiding behind the trees. I’m afraid that little Leon, our border collie puppy, was no help at all, and seemed to think that his job was to scatter the animals as far and wide as possible, but perhaps I was wrong in assuming that herding is an instinct with this breed, and some training is necessary. I will have to learn to whistle. At last the sheep and alpacas were safely ensconced in the shed, Boötes and Baaaarbara looking rather the worse for the game of catch.

When the men arrived they looked puzzled and asked where we’d got the sheep and why we’d brought them in. I told them that they were a present from my mother, and was surprised when the taller of the two laughed and said, ‘She’s not a witch, is she?’ I replied that Henna was many things, and that was most certainly one of them, only to see him look somewhat taken aback. He explained that Boötes and Baaaarbara appeared to be self-shearing sheep, although he’d never seen any of their particular thick-coated breed before, being familiar only with the more sparsely coated self-shearing Exlana and the Wiltshire Horn and its relations.

I explained that the state of Boötes and Baaaarbara was due to the fact that they’d been dashing around the orchard all morning, but he shook his head, and demonstrated how easily the wool came away. So it seems that they will shed their woolly coats all by themselves as the weather becomes warmer, and unless we follow them around and collect the wool, the birds will use it to line their nests.

Boötes and Baaaarbara were only too happy to gain their freedom, and dashed off into the orchard, leaving the shearers to deal with the alpacas, whose wool we’ll spin to make warm cloaks for the winter.

After a delicious lunch of goat’s cheese, fresh basil and Jay’s home-grown tomatoes with Minet’s sesame seed bread and my elderflower and honey cake, I gave our shearers a tarot reading. I thought it best to take them back to the shed for some privacy rather than remain in the orchard or go down to the basement. The memory of the last client to visit is still too fresh in my mind – if I close my eyes down there I can still hear her screams.

Speaking of Otherworldly Things, I have decided to put Mollie Promp and her doings from my mind for the moment. Whether TD stands for The Devil, Tallulah Dervish, or someone quite different will no doubt become clear when the time is right.

Till when, Aisselle

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