Monday, August 30, 2004

Unrealistic Fantasy #1

Shetland Sheep
Originally uploaded by Rozanne.
This weekend I was reminded of two fantasies I've had rattling around in my brain for at least the past decade.

Here's Fantasy #1:
I am a shepherdess and the owner of a Shetland sheep farm. This farm is probably in Scotland, although it could be in Yorkshire or Wales. I live in a stone cottage that is approximately 300 years old, but, of course has central heating, flush toilet, fridge, and broadband Internet. I would say I have about 200 sheep in the full range of possible Shetland sheep colors. These sheep spend the day nibbling grass in the vast, hilly fields in the vicinity of my cottage and baaa-ing randomly in a pleasing and winning manner. After a full day of this indolent behavior, my two border collies, McTavish and Dougal, leave the cottage and go herd all the sheep back into their corrals (or whatever the correct term is for a sheep enclosure) with no help from me. It's a bit unclear what I'm doing all day if I'm supposed to be a shepherdess and am not spending any time with the sheep. I'm sure I do do some sort of shepherdess work like shearing the sheep or wandering around from time to time in Wellington boots with one of those shepherdess crooks. Perhaps I am also busy turning their wool into cash money by carding it and spinning it into yarn, although that sounds a little too manual laborish for me. (Nothing against people who do manual labor; I'm just bad at it. In high school aptitude tests I scored so low on manual dexterity tests that I was told that the worst possible career choice for me would be cherry picker.)

Clearly, I have only the vaguest and most fanciful notion of what being a shepherdess would actually be like, but I do realize that in reality it would be a lot of hard physical labor, which is why the whole thing is a fantasy. I am not exactly cut out by nature to do a lot of hard physical labor.

So. This unrealistic fantasy was originally inspired by a trip I took to Scotland and Wales. I was out walking down a deserted country road in Wales and was nearly run down by a herd of sheep. Not a human in sight. Just a couple of incredibly capable Border collies driving them back to their evening quarters. It is true that sheep are dim bulbs and hundreds of them will willingly allow themselves to be herded anywhere by two dogs nipping at their heels.

The fantasy was reignited this weekend at the Oregon State Fair, when we toured the sheep barn. I guess I'd never seen Shetland sheep up close before. They are compact and friendly with toothpick legs and copious amounts of wool. They are far superior to all other breeds of sheep--especially those big lummoxy sheep with unseemly, dangling grapefruit-size balls.

Stay tuned for Fantasy #2. It will be just as enthralling as this one.


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