Thousands of sheep, soft-footed, black-nosed sheep — one by one going up the hill and over the fence — one by one four-footed pattering up and over— one by one wiggling their stub tails as they take the short jump and go over — one by one silently unless for the multitudinous drumming of their hoofs as they move on and go over — thousands and thousands of them in the grey haze of evening just after sundown — one by one slanting in a long line to pass over the hill...
- Carl Sandberg
The meadows of the Ickworth Estate boasted such soft footed, black nosed sheep at every bend in the road. They never fail to stir up great affection within me. My Gram had a small heard of Suffolk sheep, six I believe. At least in the beginning. (I inherited her tendency to multiply projects.) I remember she took a night course at the local extension office. She bought the sheep, bred them. Soon there were twenty, then fifty. I think there were several dozen by the time my grandfather was overwhelmed and the sheep project came to a close.
We learned a lot in the interim however. All those biblical analogies take on new meaning after watching a sheep's unique response to challenges (to give up, by and large), towards pack mentality, and the tendency to flee. Yet, we loved them she and I. In later years she framed a watercolor of a young woman in a nightgown with a winter coat tending a needy sheep in a snowy pen because it reminded her of those late night emergencies that would so often crop up.
In the late 70's, while we chased those sheep through hill and dale, I certainly never expected to see a herd while standing in Suffolk itself. It is a singular blessing. I know it would make her smile.