Doris the Dorset continues her Houdini act

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Doris the Dorset has fine-tuned her performances, with the curtain call that defies explanation.

When Doris surprised us with twins after initially being declared open by the vet, she went to the maternity ward at our friends Sherry and Brad Nelson, since our barn rebuilding awaits concrete and completion.

The surviving lamb, named Dink, and Doris returned to our pasture with the other late-lambing ewes on a recent sunny afternoon. They were placed in the pasture behind our house — a big, green pasture with a run-in shed, a new spot for Doris. It was great to be able to watch them from our western windows or from the back porch.

Back at it

Brad and Sherry were barely out the driveway when Doris showed up in our back yard, munching so sweetly on grass on the other side of the fence.

“Uh-oh,” I said out loud.

Doug grinned and said, “Oh, don’t try to get me to look. I know she can’t be out this quick.”

I simply stepped out the back door to see if I could quietly handle this myself. Doris looked up as if to say, “I’m so happy to be back!”

There was no explanation as to how she got out while all the others, including those much smaller, stayed put. Or the bigger question: why?

She followed when Doug called for her, (even though he called for her in various names, Dang Doris being among the nicer of them), around the fences and through the gates.

Houdini

Once a day, she seems to say, “I just have to prove what I can do.”

He moved her to yet another pasture. The next morning, there was Dang Doris nibbling the lawn, this time with a friend she had busted loose, too.

It took two days to get all of our sheep shorn, with Doris, of course, being the first one in line for ANYthing. A few days later, Doug asked me to sort of trick the ones who still needed shearing in to a pen with shelter so they would hopefully stay dry overnight.

Doris stayed attached to my side. I needed her out of my way at least long enough to help swing the gate inward so the ones who needed to go in could scooch in, while making sure none of the right ones got out.

Doug brought two bright red buckets of grain and pellets, luring the sheep in. Doris, bless her heart, was NOT going to get shut out of a late-day snack! I finally told Doug to let me put some in my pocket (seriously….) so that she would stay attached to me when the gate swung — and it worked!

But we needed to get a couple ewes back out of that overnight pen, because Dang Doris will definitely not stay in the big pasture alone. She would find a way to either a) get out and come to the house, right up on to the porch; or b) bust the gate down that has the sheep contained in the shed.

So, I told Doug to toss the red buckets to me and I would try to get the right ones out of the pen to humor Doris. We did it!

I sat the buckets down as we secured the pen, and right off the bat, Doris stuck her head in the red bucket, jerked her head up, and ended up with the red bucket on her head, the handle hanging down in front just perfectly — it looked like she was wearing a fashionable red hat!

When I tried to get the red bucket hat off of her head, she kept juking away from me. She did not want to give back her hat. So, I had to just ignore her for a little while, walking away. Eventually, she came walking up to me and let me take it off. It had to be on her terms.

Doug got a bale of hay to throw in the shed to keep the rest of them happy and content. Doris was a bit huffy that those ewes got a bale of hay. She had to keep walking over there and looking hard at them, trying to decide if it was worth busting in.

What’s a dog to do?

Billy, our English Shepherd, looks at Doris with such disdain. She hurts his feelings, wounds his pride. He can herd every last one of them, but Doris? Doris walks right up to that shepherd and appears to say, “Hey, Buster, ya wanna dance?” Billy hangs his head and looks at me with sad eyes, his humiliation off the charts.

Doug takes the side of his dog, of course.

“That Dang Doris. She’s about to buy herself a one-way ticket to……”

It is then that I start singing, my hands over my ears.

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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, in college.

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