Doris, the Queen Mother of the flock


Doris the Dorset has earned herself a new name, and she just keeps teaching us all sorts of things whether we want to learn it or not.

“That Dang Doris” is her new name when my hubby is telling this story:

When the veterinarian performed the pregnancy checks on our flock several months back, Doris ended up on the “not” list. The next day, Doris the Dorset once again somehow scaled the fence that no other ewe or ram has managed to do. She ambled along the machinery shed, sniffing at the landscaping mulch left there from last year’s delivery. She was so curious about that unique fragrance that she decided to mosey on up the sidewalk and knock on the kitchen door.

Well, hello, Doris

I greeted Doris, but rather than invite her in, I grabbed my coat and we took a little walk, ending up at the gate to the east pasture. Doris (and our highly frustrated English Shepherd, appearing ashamed of himself for allowing this ewe to trespass away from the flock) followed very nicely along, just as if on our daily stroll.

I opened the gate and Doris very sweetly joined the flock.

Joyously and loudly, the young ewes seemed to be hailing the return of the Queen Mother from distant shores, though she was really never out of their sight. With cool disdain, Doris rebuffed only one in this greeting, as she turned a cold shoulder to the ram.

That evening, Doris was given her new name.

“It’s no wonder that Dang Doris is still open! She doesn’t stay in with the ram, but goes out gallivanting. She is going to find herself winning a one-way trip to…”

Though hubby kept talking, I had left the conversation by this time, my mind spinning its own version of this story.

New reality show?

This, I thought, is like a bad TV show. Even if that ram came walking right up to Doris sweetly and said, “Would you accept this rose?”, she might just say, “Ha! I don’t need a dang flower. I know what you are trying to propose with that flower. Give it to one of those girls who clamor around you like you’re a rock star.”

“But, wait!” an unseen commentator would say, “Stay tuned for the most dramatic question asked of Doris yet!”

This is when the ram would shuffle his hooves and ask what they only ask on TV shows: “But, Doris. I would like for you to meet my parents before we have any more serious dates.”

Doris, I’m betting, would say, “I don’t need to meet no parents — I’m lookin’ at a fine mess of their mistakes. Go on! Shoo, shoo. I’ve got better things to do.”

Back on the farm

Figuring the ram was done with his assignment for this year, Doug penned the fellow up awhile back. That very day, Doris stopped her escapes, remaining faithfully with the other younger, open ewes.

Once again, up popped the subject of Doris and that ticket outta here. I asked if we could give her one more chance, saying I like her spunk and quiet determination; even her surprise social visits have become a day brightener.

The next day, we returned to the farm from a quick trip to town. Doug went out to check on the flock. Doris was standing inside the run-in shed with the tiniest twins you have ever seen. One was on its feet, the other lying nearby, chilled. Doug tucked that cold lamb in his coat and ran in to the house, his only explanation as he handed it over to me, “That Dang Doris surprised us AGAIN!”

I knew what to do. I rubbed and warmed that lamb. I turned it side to side, tried to get it to suckle.

Doug had reached our friend, Sherry the lamb whisperer, who was on her way, bringing colostrum milk from her place where our sheep have done their lambing.

I warmed up a corn bag, holding the tiny lamb in our warmest room of this old house, which is a tiny half bath, and got that baby to show signs of life. Sherry arrived, took over, worked her magic, injected a B vitamin shot, offered a little milk. The lamb seemed to rally, but then faded away.

But the other ram lamb, tiny but mighty, was up and nursing. Doris looked so proud. She and “Dink” loaded easily on to the truck, her change of address card only to Sherry’s warm barn, and most definitely not a one-way trip to…wherever that was.

Shoot, no. That Dang Doris is one smart cookie. She knows exactly what she’s doing.


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Judith Sutherland, born and raised on an Ohio family dairy farm, now lives on a 70-acre farm not far from the area where her father’s family settled in the 1850s. Appreciating the tranquility of rural life, Sutherland enjoys sharing a view of her world through writing. Other interests include teaching, reading, training dogs and raising puppies. She and her husband have two children, a son and a daughter, and three grandchildren.



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