Your New Best Friend!
How Your Love Tank Can Go from Empty to Full Becoming a Sheep Feeder
My first encounter with a sheep was a sock.
And she went by the name of Lamb Chop.
I was always so impressed with how she was able to see what Hush Puppy and Charlie Horse were doing, even with her eyes shut.
The next sheep I “met” was Ma from the movie, Babe. Her crotchety disposition was something to be desired but she was a tough old bird—I mean sheep—who had grit. And not just in her teeth, either. If I was ever in a “sheep-show” of a fight, I’d want Ma in my corner.
Sheep — well I guess fictitious sheep — have come in and out of my life over the years but it wasn’t until I met a group of real-life fleecy friends that I became “smutten.”
Wait, that’s not right. That’s what happens after an old sheep bit the farmer’s wife in the arse and was sent to “greener pastures.”
I think the word I’m looking for is smitten. Yes, I was smitten with them.
In fact, the moment I unlocked the barn gate to meet Big Ben, Buttons, Hermaini, Pegasus, and Lady BaBa for the first time I had butterflies in my stomach.
I hoped they liked me.
I mean first impressions are everything.
When we locked eyes, our hearts locked too.
It was like the sheep version of Cupid shot an arrow right through my heart.
Because I was in love, in a platonic way, of course. This is not that type of blog.
I hadn’t felt this connected with an animal since my grandmother gave me my first teddy bear, Snuggles. When I say Snuggles, I mean Snuggles the bear who sells laundry detergent. Come to think of it, he was made of fleece too.
So when I petted them I was actually petting a real-life Snuggles?
My childhood fantasy is now complete.
After the farmer showed me where the food was and told me exactly how much to give them, I couldn’t wait to get started.
As I filled the bucket with 10lbs of sheep food, I watched him as he interacted with each sheep.
He gave Big Ben a tough scratch on his head while he sweet-talked Buttons.
I wanted this same intimate connection for myself.
And I knew it was going to take more than just feeding them for 5 minutes on Friday morning to get it. (I do share the daily responsibility of feeding them with other amazing volunteers too.)
So I made a commitment to be the best feeder, but most of all best friend I could be to them.
What do friends do together?
Well, they eat together, play together, talk together and pretty much do anything under the sun together.
So that’s exactly what I will do.
And that’s exactly what you should do too.
It’s no shock that animals naturally provide healing for those of us in mourning.
They’re soft, they’re cute and they’re accepting.
If one day I want to tell these sheep how much I miss the nurturing nature of my mother, they will be all ears.
And I know I will be in a safe place with them if I unexpectedly burst into tears.
While I miss my mother’s nurturing more than I can even express in words, I know finding a mother-type to nurture me isn’t going to make me feel any better about losing her. In fact, it will make me miss her even more because she could never, ever be replaced.
The best thing I can do is do the nurturing myself.
Not only does it provide me with purpose, but it makes me appreciate even more the lengths my mother took to raise me.
The more I can honor the amazing nurturer she was to me, the better I will feel with each passing day without her.
I’ve had bunnies, dogs and even hermit crabs as a kid, but for some reason these sheep are different for me.
Maybe it’s because I knew my mother would always take care of my pets when I lost interest.
But these sheep are counting on me — and only me — to feed them on Friday.
And that makes me happier than I can even say.
If you find yourself yearning for a unique, yet highly underrated connection, I urge you to find your own furry or fleecy friend to visit.
And if you’re lucky, find one you can take care of on a weekly basis like me.
The overwhelming satisfaction I get visiting and feeding these sheep is immeasurable.
I was on a sheep high for the rest of the day after I left the barn. When I’d think of them, I’d just smile.
I was even one of those annoying “sheep” moms showing pictures of them to my colleagues at work.
I just couldn’t help it.
I wanted to share the boundless joy they gave me with everyone I encountered that day.
If you decide to look after a furry friend too, you’ll know what I mean.
And I hope you do.
I encourage you to find a local farm or petting zoo near you and simply watch your happiness meter rise to new heights.
You’ll be so glad you did.
Because an animal’s love runs “sheep.”