George was a twin and his mother ewe only wanted to feed the other one. So from the first day of his life, George thought of me as MaaaaaMaaaaa. It was early spring in Virginia when he was born and he was just a bit more than a handful in a couple of ways. He lived in a box in the laundry room at first and I mixed formula and heated bottles every four hours. He was always hungry and he grew fast.
It wasn't long before he came tumbling down the two stairs from the laundry into the kitchen having escaped his box. He was a little wobbly on his spindly legs, but that didn't slow him down much. If he heard me in the kitchen or the living room he soon was there. By then he was the same size as Alice, our mostly white cat. The dogs and cats must have known that George was going to keep growing and they accepted him into the pack.
I spent a lot of time, trying to get George to eat grass, but once he caught on he made up for lost time. He wanted nothing to do with the sheep and they didn't much care for him, either. He started sleeping on the deck in a dog bed when it warmed because he wasn't much good at house training. During the day, though, the door to the deck was usually open for the dogs, cats, and George to come in and out at will. When the door was closed, George would "paw" at it until he was let in.
Every day when my mate came home from work we'd take a walk down the road and back through the pasture. The dogs, George and Alice the cat knew the route and the schedule. One spring we had too many roosters and we gave one to our neighbors. When the group of us walked to their house, me carrying a rooster under my arm, I suddenly realized what an odd picture we must have been.
When the weather was nice, we'd return from our walk and have happy hour on the deck. George was especially fond of pretzels, carrots, and peanuts and he enjoyed a beer as well. My mate was from Down Under and recognized beer as a good way for George to put on weight. Every happy hour, George sat on my lap on the deck.
It wasn't long before my mate had to lift George onto my lap. Sheep grow quickly and George went from a kitten-like pound of woolly sweetness to 100+ pounds of stinky ram that only a mother could love. No matter how big he got, he still wanted to sit on my lap. And he still called me MaaaaaaaMaaaaaa. He just said it louder. And he never forgot my voice.
By autumn he still preferred the living room to the lawn and it was long past time that he started learning how to be a sheep. Daily my mate would remind me that George had excellent genes and he had to learn how to pass them on. It was painful for me to take him to the pasture, and nearly unbearable for me to watch the way those nasty sheep treated him at first.
But George grew confident. In fact, he grew downright cocky. I reckon he wooed the young ewes with fantastic stories of salty pretzels and foamy beer. He became quite the lady's man. Well, actually the ewe's ram.
During my time on the farm, I bottle fed lots of lambs. I remember trying to hold bottles for triplets who would climb all over me as I sat in soft green grass under perfect blue skies. It's a wondrous experience to pacify a tiny lamb with your finger while you get the bottles arranged.
But even among the sweetest lambs George was special. You just can't keep a full grown ram as a house pet. It's not good for the ram or the house. So George was part of my family for a season. But what a season! I miss that sheep and I can truly say that the brevity of the time I was his Maaaaaa doesn't diminish the sweetness of the experience.