That was the name I gave her when she was born. Her freckled face and extra shy disposition gave her that name and she has lived up to it.

If people tell you that all animals are the same, they are horribly mistaken. One of the greatest travesties of our large animal feed lots is that the human providers can no longer be human. There is seldom time for the respect or the patience required to see how unique each animal actually is – and there is no time to discover our own awe and delight in the heart of it.

But I have made sure to give myself that kind of time and I have been taught so very much by my four-legged friends because of it. I shear my sheep with scissors. I give them a bit of corn – the only time they get corn – and I invite them to give me their wool. We call it the ‘corn for wool project’. I have been doing it for a few years now and the older girls and the less timid come running for their treat. You can tell right off who is willing and eager by the way their locks are cut. Some have a shabby chic look because they have figured out that the longer the hair cutting takes the more days with corn…Still others have not yet warmed up to the idea and I am trying to earn their trust in many ways.

This winter I have noticed that my friend Mystery has taken to be the last coming for hay. She does not charge up like so many of the others and she has gradually hung back waiting for me to bring hay to her. Sometimes if I am in a bit of a hurry, I have to check my self as I see her hanging back, seemingly too timid to get into the tussle over hay with the others. I talk to her and remind her she must eat and that sometimes it is necessary to stand up for yourself and not back down – sheep can be very bossy, you know. She watches me warily but with a certainty that I will not forget her, knowing she will get a heaping helping of love with that hay. She tugs at my heart in her shyness and her unwillingness to fight and we have come to expect this dance now, she and I. I have wanted to tell you about her for some time, but I wasn’t sure the words would capture her as well as a picture would, so I was very happy when she struck this pose for me today.

Life has its precious moments, most likely all of them, if we have the eyes to see. Take time for the mystery. The sheer delight of it outweighs the greatest hardships.

Soon it will be time to begin cutting the sheeps’ wool. Each one will show me their uniqueness. Each will demand, play coy, challenge me and one or two may even give me a head butt; each one will teach me. And maybe, just maybe, I have earned the trust of one as shy as Mystery. Who knows?

Take time for mystery; she will teach you.mis tery

2 thoughts on “Mystery

  1. Neat story, neat perspective! I spent my formative years in a community where confinement pork operations were the backbone of the local economy. My first few years in the workforce was right at the heart of the industry “Processing” newborn pigs. I thought nothing of it at the time, it was a job and a way of life. I moved on after a few years and did not see that aspect of life again until twenty years later when I moved to Wisconsin. In my first year here I spent much of my time doing maintenance and construction on dairy farms, and to say the least was revolted by the dairy culture I saw. Thanks for sharing your story!


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