... take the bucket ...


Often when I find myself mopping the floors … especially in the springtime, I glance down at my little red bucket and I can’t help but think about Hilda – our beloved sheep…

Having a lot of kids causes one to re-think the whole gift-giving thing. If we were to give each child the quantity of gifts each year that the media insinuates is “normal” – we would be squeezed out of our home – by STUFF! So, a long time ago, we started to give gifts that were “outside of the box” to our children.

One such gift was “Hilda”. It was our eldest daughter (Ella’s) birthday, and she was about 7 years old. I bought her a lamb from a neighboring sheep farmer, put her in a box and presented her to a very wide-eyed little girl. She was thrilled! She got to carry her around, bottle feed, snuggle, and care for this little wooly creature for a whole summer.

Fast-forward a few years…

I was pregnant with our fifth child, and mopping the kitchen floor – which had a pastoral view of Hilda wondering here and there amongst the free-range chickens, geese, and Dusty (our nasty donkey). The little school our children attend does not have classes on Fridays, so Fridays have always been our chore days. Our eldest child (Sam) was responsible for taking out our extra paper stuff to burn in the burn barrel, situated in the barnyard, and within eyesight of the kitchen.

Everyone was dutifully carrying out their various Friday tasks, when I noticed that Hilda had a huge piece of stray newspaper hanging from her mouth, and she was munching away on it aimlessly. It must have lifted up out of the burn barrel on the rising hot air and she must have simply grabbed it from mid air with her mouth. Moments later, something very startling caught my eye – Hilda (who was standing stock still, facing the house, still nibbling on the same piece of newspaper) was …. well…..on fire!!!

Her entire back was ablaze! The weird thing was that she just kept on chewing away, blinking those big, goofy wide spread eyes ... blissfully ignorant to her situation!!! Even the chickens (who are not noted for their intelligence) certainly all knew to be alarmed – for they had all scattered in countless directions - away from this heated situation …and Dusty (the nasty donkey) was no where to be seen – presumably hiding behind the barn with her eyes closed! I called Sam from the mudroom and pointed out the rather delicate situation we were faced with in the yard. I handed him the bucket of mop water…

It was not unusual for Sam to be out in the barn yard – for it was also his job to feed the chickens – the trick was not to spook Hilda, for if she began to run….well, it would have been sheep flambé for sure. And she did spook easily! So, I instructed Sam to act as casual as possible, not to even acknowledge the flaming sheep at all, and when he was close enough – to toss the water onto her back. He had only one shot at this – that was for sure!

Well, he did beautifully! Hilda was expertly extinguished…and the whole family – especially poor Lou-Lou (Ella) … (which had been holding its breath), watching through the mudroom windows was jumping up and down, and shrieking with joy!

The best part of this moment was the absolutely disgusted and confused look on the face of Hilda – who would apparently never come to understand why Sam had randomly decided to douse her in dirty mop water while she was minding her own business one spring day…

#springsheepcrazycountryfarmbarnyard

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