Beautiful Joe
Chapter 29, Page 4


Please be aware that this book was originally published in 1894 and may contain words, descriptions, or other passages that may be considered offensive today.


He rose, and after several efforts succeeded in capturing the black-faced creature, and bringing him up to the log. He was very shy of Miss Laura, but Mr. Wood held him firmly, and let her stroke his head as much as she liked. "You call him little," said Mr. Wood; "if you put your arm around him, you'll find he's a pretty substantial lamb. He was born in March. This is the last of July; he'll be shorn the middle of next month, and think he's quite grown up. Poor little animal! he had quite a struggle for life. The sheep were turned out to pasture in April. They can't bear confinement as well as the cows, and as they bite closer they can be turned out earlier, and get on well by having good rations of corn in addition to the grass, which is thin and poor so early in the spring. This young creature was running by his mother's side, rather a weak-legged, poor specimen of a lamb. Every night the flock was put under shelter, for the ground was cold, and though the sheep might not suffer from lying out-doors, the lambs would get chilled. One night this fellow's mother got astray, and as Ben neglected to make the count, she wasn't missed. I'm always anxious about my lambs in the spring, and often get up in the night to look after them. That night I went out about two o'clock. I took it into my head, for some reason or other, to count them. I found a sheep and lamb missing, took my lantern and Bruno, who was some good at tracking sheep, and started out. Bruno barked and I called, and the foolish creature came to me, the little lamb staggering after her. I wrapped the lamb in my coat, took it to the house, made a fire, and heated some milk. Your Aunt Hattie heard me and got up. She won't let me give brandy even to a dumb beast, so I put some ground ginger, which is just as good, in the milk, and forced it down the lamb's throat. Then we wrapped an old blanket round him, and put him near the stove, and the next evening he was ready to go back to his mother. I petted him all through April, and gave him extras — different kinds of meal, till I found what suited him best; now he does me credit."

"Dear little lamb," said Miss Laura, patting him. "How can you tell him from the others, uncle?"

"I know all their faces, Laura. A flock of sheep is just like a crowd of people. They all have different expressions, and have different dispositions."

"They all look alike to me," said Miss Laura.

"I dare say. You are not accustomed to them. Do you know how to tell a sheep's age?"

"No, uncle."

"Here, open your mouth, Cosset," he said to the lamb that he still held. "At one year they have two teeth in the centre of the jaw. They get two teeth more every year up to five years. Then we say they have 'a full mouth.' After that you can't tell their age exactly by the teeth. Now, run back to your mother," and he let the lamb go.

"Do they always know their own mothers?" asked Miss Laura.

"Usually. Sometimes a ewe will not own her lamb. In that case we tie them up in a separate stall till she recognizes it. Do you see that sheep over there by the blueberry bushes — the one with the very pointed ears?"

"Yes, uncle," said Miss Laura.

"That lamb by her side is not her own. Hers died and we took its fleece and wrapped it around a twin lamb that we took from another ewe, and gave to her. She soon adopted it. Now, come this way, and I'll show you our movable feeding troughs."