By Deborah Dybowski
The shepherd of the flock was still resting on the hillside past noon.
“When will he take us to be sheared?” Lennie asked Old Sheep.
“When he’s ready,” Old Sheep answered.
Lennie did not want to be sheared. He never had been because he was too young the last time the flock went to the barn for shearing. He remembered seeing all the sheep’s wool land on the floor of the barn. He didn’t think it was a sight any young sheep should observe. He thought the sheep were scared and in pain.
He didn’t know the sheep actually weren’t frightened. They didn’t mind being sheared because it made them feel much cooler. It was, however, that day he decided shearing was not for him to endure.
That was the reason he was watching the shepherd since early morning. He was waiting for him to fall asleep so he could leave the flock and run away to the mountains where he would live free.
As he was looking at the clouds above, he heard the shepherd calling the flock. Immediately, all the sheep were in their places following the shepherd to the barn. Now, was his chance to abandon them.
He followed for a short distance until he came to the creek. It was there he would be able to cross over to the other side and make his way to the green mountains.
If he stayed at the back of the flock, it would take hours before he’d be missed. As the flock slowly trudged along, Lennie saw his chance to get away.
Near the creek, he slowed himself down and carefully walked to the bank of the hill where he planned to roll himself down, then get himself up and walk across the shallow creek.
He was able to roll himself down quite easily but he never expected to get so muddy from rolling down such a small hill. When he got himself up, he felt a pain on his leg. He looked at his leg and saw he was bleeding from a cut he had received from a sharp pointed rock he had landed on. He knew he would be able to continue, walking slower as he limped along.
Once on the other side, he looked far into the distance and saw the flock continuing on their way. He thought, I am the smartest of them all.
He then proceeded up the hill and into the forest. For a brief moment, he felt a slight twinge of loneliness. He had never been away from the flock but when he looked at the tall trees, he calmed himself with the thought the forest would protect him.
The cool air from the shade of the tall trees called him to lie down and rest. As soon as his head rested on a pile of leaves, his ears perked up. He heard a cracking sound nearby.
He looked around the dimly lit forest and saw an animal a bit larger than himself. The animal did not make a sound. He stood close and stared at Lennie with his big, brown eyes. Then he moved closer to sniff Lennie’s neck and ears.
Lennie was as still as possible wondering what was this noiseless creature.
Suddenly, he remembered Old Sheep telling him a story about an animal in the forest who was frightened of sounds. The animal was a deer.
Bravely, Lennie stood as tall as he could on his sore leg and made the loudest Baa-baa, Baa-ing sound he ever made. The deer fled away. As soon as Lennie stopped trembling, he decided he needed to go further into the forest to find a safer place.
He came across a small stream of gurgling water. He stepped into the cold water to ease the pain in his leg. After having a long, cold drink from the stream, he stood looking around when he saw a cave nearby. He made his way to the cave and fearlessly went inside where he found a place to sleep for the night that was near the entrance. He fell asleep as soon as he laid his head down. He slept well into early morning when he was awakened to the screeching of an owl.
Frightened, Lennie looked out the entrance of the cave into the moonlight and saw an owl flapping his wings flying toward him. Lennie thought Owl was coming to attack and punch his eyes out. Lennie dropped his head and covered his eyes with his two front hooves.
Owl didn’t know what to think when he saw Lennie cover his eyes. So, he landed beside him, flapped his wings and smacked Lennie in the face. Lennie let his hooves drop to the ground and Baa-Baa, Baa-ed as loud as he could. This made Owl hoot, hoot, hoot even louder. Together, they did this until the moon disappeared and the sun came out.
When Owl saw the sun shining brightly, he stopped hooting and flew to the top branch of the highest tree. There, he stayed all day, not making a sound because he was fast asleep.
Lennie was happy Owl had finally left and again he was proud of his own bravery. But, now he was hungry. He needed to find a good grazing spot so he could make up for the meals he lost the day before.
He found a perfect tall grassy area not far from the stream. It was there he felt content and grazed until late afternoon when a young girl came walking in the woods. She stopped to pet him and ask him if she could take him home with her.
After having such a hard night, Lennie agreed he could go with her. She fed him and cared for him everyday for six years. Several times she tried to shear him but he would tense all his muscles and bleet and baa at the top of his lungs.
Finally, the girl didn’t try anymore. She continued to take care of him the very best she could. She knew he must surely be lonely without his flock of sheep so one day she walked him down the mountain to the valley below where sheep were happily grazing.
When the shepherd saw them, he walked over to the girl and the big, wooly sheep and asked where did she find such a big wooly thing. She told the shepherd he was much better looking when she found him six years ago.
“Six years ago?” the shepherd asked as he reached through the sheep’s thick wool to see if there was a name tag around his neck. Holding the tag in his hand and rubbing off the dirt and grime, the shepherd read the name,
“Lennie, you’re back. I’ve looked for you so long.”
Lennie was so happy to see the shepherd and all the flock he ran to join them.
Old Sheep came up to him and said, “If you would have had the shearing done on yourself, you would be feeling a whole lot better all these years but you came home on the right day. It’s shearing day and by the way you really need it. I’m going to let you be the first in line.”
Lennie began to speak but Old sheep stopped him saying, “Lennie, old boy, you can thank me later.”
Lennie was so happy to see Old Sheep and be back with his flock he didn’t know what to say. So, he walked over to the flock and grazed until it was time to follow the shepherd back to the barn for Shearing Day.- Total nr. of readings: 1,031 Copyright © The author  All Rights Reserved. This story may not be reproduced without the express written permission of the author except for personal use.
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I enjoyed reading “Shearing Day” as I’m sure children will enjoy it as well. The old saying “The grass is always greener on the other side” rings true even today, and still a good lesson for children to learn.