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My winter coat has these care instructions:

Do not wash.
Do not dry-clean.
Do not spot clean.

It limits the options, rather.

When I was in fourth grade, my older sister asked our parents if she could join 4-H and get a sheep to take care of. I'm sure my parents were as excited about this request as I am when Mallory asks to take karate lessons, or to join a soccer team; the difference is, in this instance, my parents acquiesced. For some reason, it was decided that I, too, should join 4-H and get a sheep. And so it was that for about six months, Jana and I were shepherdesses, or at least, we had to wake up early each morning and feed these sheep, and break the ice on their trough, and we also had to muck out their stalls on the weekend, and we had to encourage them to "exercise" so that they, and we, could fetch a good price at the spring Stock Show. My sheep was of the Suffolk breed, reputed to be the most intelligent of the sheep breeds, so I named him Einstein.

It also happened that when I was in fourth grade, I had a faux rabbit-fur coat, in grey, which I thought was terribly stylish. It was my only outerwear that year, so I wore it anytime I had to go outside - including when I had to go take care of my sheep. Now, in those days, or at least, in my small town, there was no such thing as "before school care" -- if you had to be dropped off at school before school started, you just had to loiter around the schoolyard until the bell rang. If it was bitterly cold, students were allowed in the foyer, but absolutely could not enter the main hallways. So it was that one cold morning I found myself crammed into the foyer, cheek to jowl with my fellow fourth graders, and I noticed a peculiar odor. It was a very barnyard-ish odor. It was -- I realized with mounting horror -- the odor of MY barnyard, emanating from MY coat. My coat smelled like my sheep. I was mortified beyond belief.

And then...



Here's where I admit that this isn't much of a story. Evidently none of my classmates realized that my coat was smelly; no one started calling me Sheep-Dip Krista; no further trauma ensued. Perhaps I went home and said to my mother, Hey mom, my coat smells like sheep poo! and she washed it and all was well. Maybe it warmed up soon afterward and I never had to wear the coat again.



Oh, what happened to the sheep? It dragged me halfway across the arena during judging at the stock show, actually. An older boy grabbed its halter and the judge said to him, "That was very brave of you, son." I had sawdust down my pants. We came in last place. The sheep was purchased for 69 cents a pound. "I guess Einstein will be lamb chops soon," I noted in my diary, without too much sorrow.

The fate of the coat was not recorded.


MomofK9s said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
MomofK9s said…
(I had to remove the first comment because my grammar was awful-and probably still is!)

Wow. THAT was pretty brave of YOU. I could never sell something that I took care of for food. And since i am ALMOST a vegetarian again...I do think it was brave.
Anonymous said…
I do remember that coat. I do not remember what happened to it though! And I remember how both you and Jana were only in 4H for one year. And how glad that both Gary and I were that no one ever wanted a show animal again!

aimee said…
Mom, I don't think you gave Casey and me an option. Which really is okay. I didn't want to. I had enough barn life with those calves that we all got too attached to and then they would die and we would cry...

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