Flatlander Faith

Apologetics from an Anabaptist perspective

Today we washed the sheep

Another excerpt from When I Was Thirteen, by Christina Young of Waubuno, Ontario

May 31, 1897
Today we washed the sheep.  I guess I had better describe how it is done, as the fashions may be changed by the time my descendants are able to read this.  There are so many new ways of doing things being invented these days that very likely sheep washing will be out of date in about twenty years from now.  I am glad I am myself and not one of my descendants, as I would hate to miss some of the customs we have in these days.  Still I suppose my descendants will think their ways are the best, and will pity me as they read this diary, for being so old-fashioned.

I know I rather pity old Mrs. Wilson for the times she had to come through when this country was all woods, and wolves and wild animals were common.  But still it is thrilling to hear her tell about those days, and the way they did things.  I would have loved to have lived through them for one whole year, and then skip the rest of the time till now.  I wonder if in heaven God will in some way bring back all the wonderful things of the past that we have missed by not being born soon enough.  Maybe eternity is just time going around in a circle with all the unbeautiful things left out, and everybody will be able to live through all the different ages and get the thrills out of them all.

I had quite an exciting experience while we were bringing the sheep up from the field, I had gone back with Pa to drive them up, and when we got there we found a lamb that had got on its back and couldn’t get up.  When Pa helped it up it was too weak to keep up with the flock, so Pa had to carry it and I had to drive the sheep.

Our old Billy sheep is quite cross, as we have teased him quite a bit when we would be in a safe place, such as close to a fence.

I had a big stick in my hand and was all right as long as it held out, but it broke once when I gave him a crack on the head as he was coming for me.  Then Billy saw his chance, and I knew the day of reckoning had come for me.

I jumped to one side just as he almost reached me, and he went on past the first time, but I expected he would soon get onto that dodge.

Pa was quite a way behind, but I could hear him laughing, though I couldn’t see any fun myself.

Pa yelled at me then to jump on Billy’s back, so the next time he charged I jumped to the other side, and before he could turn around I had climbed on his back.

He was that surprised he just stood still and shook his head.  He couldn’t understand what had become of me, I guess.  Pa was laughing very hard by this time, and I joined in then, as I began to see the fun, being safe myself.

Billy behaved like a gentleman after that.  As we got to the house we could hear Munroe’s sheep and Wilson’s coming down the road, Wesley’s joined us at the corner with theirs, and we drove all the sheep together down the road to the creek, a mile south of the corner.

All the boys and girls around the corner went along, as it is great fun watching the men wash the sheep and paddling around ourselves.

When they got to the creek, they drove all the sheep into a large three-cornered pen made of rails that had been built for the purpose, with one corner opening into the creek.

Then sheep by sheep the men took them all into the creek and washed them, and then turned them loose to run on the road a few days to dry.  Then they will be sheared.

As I write in my diary I can hear lambs and sheep bleating from every direction.  It is a most lonesome and sorrowful sound, the sound of a sheep that cannot find its lamb, or a lamb that has lost its mother.

Then, when they find each other, it is a most joyful and comforted sound that they make, as if all the sorrow is past and already almost forgotten.

I will be awake hours tonight, I suppose, listening for the sorrowful bleats to be changed into bleats of rejoicing.  And then I will go to sleep.

I expect that is a tiny bit like the Rest, that the angels feel up in heaven, whenever a sorrowing sinner finds God.

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