Jessamyn 6

THe blogger me did not mean to miss all of October!

At nine years of age I had been scared of the stairs going down into darkness unless my great aunt held my hand. This time however the cellar was a surprise. A light at the top of the stairs revealed it had been painted white, and shelves built in everywhere. A few full jars of preserves, lots of empty jars, a freezer with white packages — meat for a quick guess, confirmed by the labels — various tools on the shelves. No washer-dryer. I looked in the freezer again and found a package that said Sausage and ran upstairs with it.  The oven alarm was buzzing and Killian was at the door. I whipped the rolls out of the oven. He stepped in and his eyebrows went up while I said good morning.

“Good morning to you. Didn’t think you’d be up. Wow, there’s peach jam somewhere for those.” He looked in the refrigerator and then rumbled down the same steps I had just come up.  He reappeared with a jar, sat down, and started eating.

“You had a cast sheep this morning, but I think I got there in time.”

“What is a cast sheep?” I asked this question because I wanted to know but at the same time a place inside me was flipping. I understood caring for people. I understood that this was a sheep farm. All of a sudden caring for this particular person, my great-uncle meant being responsible for the farm. Terrifying!

Killian looked a little disconcerted, stared at the wall for a moment and said, “It’s a sheep that’s fallen over and can’t get up.” He buttered a roll, spread jam thickly and said, “Do you want some eggs? I’ll cook ‘em. These rolls are marvelous.”

“There’s no eggs — I checked this morning.  Why can’t the sheep get up?”

“I brought some over. I bring Duncan eggs and milk and he shares other stuff: fruit, lamb, peas… Scrambled?”

“Sure, but explain the sheep. What happens if you don’t help them?” I wondered how you actually help a sheep get up.

“They die.” He cracked a few eggs, opened a drawer, pulled out a fork and started whisking them. A pan on the burner, some oil and the eggs — the speed with which he cooked and ate and shared was breathtaking — if I had any breath left after his casual remarks about sheep death. He looked at my face and looked at the wall. “Okay, so if a sheep falls down or especially, if it gets its legs above its head, falling on a hillside for example, sometimes it can’t get up. And if the situation gets really out of hand the sheep belly fills with gas and the sheep can die. So you have to help a sheep to get up that is stuck lying down. And after you help it to get up you help it to balance for a while before it wanders off. Didn’t that ever happen when you were nine?”

“Guess not. Well, I don’t think my aunt would have let anyone discuss something like that then. I was here for a funeral. Wonder how she shut you up.” He grinned at me. “So if you get the sheep up it’s fine?” He nodded. “Okay. How do you help the sheep up?”

“Grab the legs and pull them down and over, gently but firmly. You can grab the wool and pull if necessary. Just get a good grip.” Nine-year old Jess was ready to try this but twenty-five year old Jess was horrified. I tried not to show how flummoxed I was but I’m not sure it would have mattered. Killian had a lot on his mind.

He took me out to the yard, helped me start Duncan’s truck, gave me directions to the hospital, and said he’d be in touch. He said it was a bad week but I was to call if I needed anything. He’d find someone to help me. I had a brief thought of the Challenge he was working on but it seemed impertinent to mention it since he himself hadn’t told me. As he left the yard I thought that I wanted to know if he had called the police but it was too late to ask. Something to remember for later.

The morning was still beautiful, the truck bigger than I felt comfortable with, but it drove easily when I had shifted the seat forward and up about six inches each.  The hospital was an undemanding, chilly drive from the farm and I took along clothes for my great-uncle to change into.

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