I had visions of us all slipping on our matching Hunter boots and walking hand-in-hand to the barn where the sheep are patiently waiting. Five months after purchasing two Shetland yearlings, I’m realizing this will never happen. Ever.
Let me be frank: my kids are spoiled. They live in a huge house, have their own tablets, both sets of grandparents are living and they pretty much want for nothing. Being a parent for just over five years has taught me to be creative when teaching life lessons to kiddos. So, we got sheep. And here’s why.
It teaches them accountability. Sheep are pretty hard to kill. Outside of a barn for shelter, they just need fresh water once a day. Then, they eat your lawn. It’s that simple. Though, while sheep are almost self-sufficient, my kids know they can’t fill their own water bucket. Somebody with fingers, not hooves, has to turn on the water. Like so many other things in their life, mom is not going to do this by herself. Sure they need help with the gate and reaching the vintage pump, but we all go through the motions together. One day they’ll be tall enough to do this without me, and I’m going to sleep in.
It makes them disconnect. I never knew the heights of childhood anger ‘til I asked my five-year old to turn off his tablet. He loses his mind—tears, open-mouth crying, asking for a new family. And I’m okay with that. Because once he gets outside and breathes in the country air, he’s ok. Sometimes. Ok he calls me “rude” for the next three hours but I don’t care because we are outside. Once we are done spending ten minutes in the barn, it’s much easier to distract all three with a scavenger hunt or walk around our pond.
It makes them uncomfortable. The sheep were 65 pounds and freshly sheered when we picked them up from the breeder. Just a few months later they’ve packed on pounds and a significant amount of wool. To a 24-pound kiddo (or full-grown mom) they are intimidating and downright scary. But so are many things in life, so get over it kids. We have to do things that make us uncomfortable to get along in this world.
It gives them a unique hobby. Quite frankly I’d rather die than sit quietly and needle up a sweater. That’s why God invented etsy. But the kids love going to the fair. We filled out all the paperwork so they can participate in 4-H. My daughter doesn’t like ballet, but hand her an animal and she is in her element. The same is true for both of my sons. My oldest Ryker is on the shy side. When a walking stick scared his preschool class off the playground he gently picked it up. He’s practically a superhero now.
It’s actually quite fun. Whenever we have visitors to our property they always want to see the sheep. Black Widow and Wonder Woman (yup, they are “super” sheep!) know this means they’re going to get many tiny handfuls of feed. It’s like sheep catnip. The girls come barreling towards the kids with their sheep tongues hanging out. Everyone’s laughing, iphones start snapping pictures—it’s pretty awesome to know you helped create that memory.
We are on the waitlist for baby Nigerian Dwarf Goats. Besides being ADORABLE, I might actually try my hand at making goat’s milk soap. Because I’m too old for 4-H, and life’s about doing things that sometimes makes you uncomfortable. Practice what you preach, right? Man this parenting thing is exhausting.