Ratatat – “Seventeen Years”
When I was younger, I was in my local 4-H group. I took things like “photography” and “cake decorating” and “sewing.” In order to take animals, you had to be a certain age – 9 for pigs and something like 7 or 8 for sheep.
Eventually at age 12 or so, my mom decided I could use the experience and made me (and my brother) take sheep. My brother chose to do the “selling” program, where you eventually auction off the sheep for meat purposes, and I chose to do the “breeder” program where you don’t have to sell the sheep under the auspices of it being used for breeding. We picked out baby lambs to raise and dutifully mixed their formula and fed them.
I hated every minute of it.
I wasn’t interested in taking care of an animal; hell, I didn’t even like sheep. I named mine “Bucker” because any time you tried to pet it, it would buck wildly and rear up and kick its legs. One time, my sheep got out of the pen which resulted in me running down the dirt path to the pen screaming “BUCKER! GET BACK IN YOUR PEN! BUCKER!!! BUCKER!!!”
After that, my mom told me I had to re-name my sheep, since it sounded like I was screaming obsceneties and there was no way she was going to have me be mis-heard at the county fair. I don’t even remember what new name I gave it.
Anyway, the time of the fair was drawing nearer. For some weird reason, three or so days prior to the fair, my brother’s sheep just up and died. I cannot put into words how jealous I was. Why couldn’t my sheep have kicked the bucket? I could have gotten out of doing the whole stupid showing and judging thing, and I would finally be rid of that horrid animal.
Sadly, I had no such luck, and my sheep lived to see the fair. During one of my many trips taking the sheep from its pen to somewhere else, I had the misfortune of meeting some very nice lady and her two kids, a little boy and a younger girl. Small children apparently love sheep, and the mom asked if her kids could pet my sheep. I was in the middle of saying “No, I don’t think that’d be a good idea–” when one of the kids reached out and made the fatal mistake of petting my sheep, right on its back near its tail.
My sheep LUNGED at the boy and his little sister. I think the mom screamed, and I threw all my body weight at my sheep to get it to turn in mid-air. The sheep moved adequately and the kids weren’t hurt, but the mom gave me a HORRIBLE scathing death look and I apologized profusely and generally felt horrible about the whole thing. I tried to warn them. I did. The kid just reached out and petted my sheep.
When I finally made it to the showing and judging thing, I was a nervous wreck. I knew the judge was going to have to inspect my sheep and adjust how it was standing and such, and all I could do was pray it wouldn’t try to attack him. It must be stated that I think God hates me, because as soon as the judge laid a hand on my sheep, it lunged at him as well. I did the body-weight-throwing thing again and the judge mumbled something about mine being a fiesty one. I was mortified. In one day, my stupid sheep, a creature supposed to represent docility and meekness, had attacked two toddlers and a judge.
I somehow survived the county fair and came home with one red and one blue ribbon (they must have felt sorry for me) and my loathesome sheep.
To my great fortune, my sheep mysteriously died about a week and a half after the fair. I felt guilty for being happy about it, but I called my best friend in a moment of sheer glee and exclaimed that my sheep had died and could I come over to party? We had an impromptu sleepover complete with nail polish and potato chips, all because my sheep died.
My apologies to sheep lovers everywhere, but for the many months I took care of that sheep, it was the bane of my existence. I still hate sheep to this day, and we never did figure out why both sheep mysteriously died.