Tibbie in the Middle

Jul. 23 2015
From the Farm


If you’ve been following along, you will understand that in getting our Border Leicesters shorn there are a number of things that come to bear:

We keep our unshorn sheep—down to twelve—in the shearing shed at night to keep them dry because you should not shear wet sheep or put wet wool in a bag; and shorn sheep do better if they are kept dry too because they are not so bothered by flies; and it has been rainy here in the Flint Hills so the dews have been heavy; and our shearer punches cows, his own and others, so he has his own ruminant concerns; and our fields intended for summer forage crops were so weedy, because of the rains, that the weeds had to be mowed and baled for hay so the fields could be tilled and planted so we’re busy too—anyway, from our point of view, we see many issues.

Tibbie’s point of view is more focused.


You will recall that she is the middle Great Pyrenees, younger than Flora who is spending her time with ewes and lambs, and older than Fife, now out of puppyhood and guarding the shorn flock. Those two often spend their nights in the same area, under the stars, patrolling and barking together. When Fife and Tibbie are together, they play. Flora, a matron, is not into play. When Tibbie and Flora are together, their patrolling and barking patterns are a model of art: full coverage with minimal effort and just what you’d expect from mature dogs.

But these nights, Tibbie is stuck in the shed. She likes her sheep, knows them all by sight and smell, knows the laggards, the friskies, and the placid, but still: they don’t play, and they don’t bark. She gets to watch the shearer and if Heather comes to attend to the wool, she gets a friendly pat. But it’s not the same as being with Flora or Fife and the shed, while it’s dry, is aromatic.


So we weren’t surprised when she declined to follow the sheep in. She stayed at the gate and glanced at us a couple of times to make sure that we understood that she was not abandoning the sheep, but that she preferred to spend the night just outside. And that’s where she was, next morning, and for the next several mornings, and we knew she would be there because we could hear her barking from that spot during the night. Last evening, she paused at the gate again and ate her supper outside the shed.

This morning, she was in the shed. In the midst of her flock. You see that to get there she had to climb metal panels that are not easy to climb, but we know her as a resourceful creature. The question is why, not how, and I asked her.

She just smiled.



Copyright Jerry Wigglesworth, 2015