Beautiful Joe
Chapter 29, Page 5


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 got up from the log, and Miss Laura followed him to the fence. "These big troughs are for the sheep," sad Mr. Wood; "and those shallow ones in the enclosure are for the lambs. See, there is just room enough for them to get under the fence. You should see the small creatures rush to them whenever we appear with their oats, and wheat, or bran, or whatever we are going to give them. If they are going to the butcher, they get corn meal and oil meal. Whatever it is, they eat it up clean. I don't believe in cramming animals. I feed them as much as is good for them, and not any more. Now, you go sit down over there behind those bushes with Joe, and I'll attend to business."

Miss Laura found a shady place, and I curled myself up beside her. We sat there a long time, but we did not get tired, for it was amusing to watch the sheep and lambs. After a while, Mr. Wood came and sat down beside us. He talked some more about sheep-raising; then he said,

"You may stay here longer if you like, but I must get down to the house. The work must be done, if the weather is hot."

"What are you going to do now?" asked Miss Laura, jumping up.

"Oh! more sheep business. I've set out some young trees in the orchard, and unless I get chicken wire around them, my sheep will be barking them for me."

"I've seen them," said Miss Laura, "standing up on their hind legs and nibbling at the trees, taking off every shoot they can reach."

"They don't hurt the old trees," said Mr. Wood; "but the young ones have to be protected. It pays me to take care of my fruit trees, for I get a splendid crop from them, thanks to the sheep."

"Good-bye, little lambs and dear old sheep," said Miss Laura, as her uncle opened the gate for her to leave the pasture. "I'll come and see you again some time. Now, you had better go down to the brook in the dingle and have a drink. You look hot in your warm coats."

"You've mastered one detail of sheep-keeping," said Mr. Wood, as he slowly walked along beside his niece. "To raise healthy sheep one must have pure water where they can get to it whenever they like. Give them good water, good food, and a variety of it, good quarters — cool in summer, comfortable in winter, and keep them quiet, and you'll make them happy and make money on them."

"I think I'd like sheep-raising," said Miss Laura; "won't you have me for your flock mistress, uncle?"

He laughed, and said he thought not, for she would cry every time any of her charge were sent to the butcher.

After this Miss Laura and I often went up to the pasture to see the sheep and the lambs. We used to get into a shady place where they could not see us, and watch them. One day I got a great surprise about the sheep. I had heard so much about their meekness that I never dreamed that they would fight; but it turned out that they did, and they went about it in such a business-like way, that I could not help smiling at them. I suppose that like most other animals they had a spice of wickedness in them. On this day a quarrel arose between two sheep; but instead of running at each other like two dogs they went a long distance apart, and then came rushing at each other with lowered heads. Their object seemed to be to break each other's skull; but Miss Laura soon stopped them by calling out and frightening them apart. I thought that the lambs were more interesting than the sheep. Sometimes they fed quietly by their mothers' sides, and at other times they all huddled together on the top of some flat rock or in a bare place, and seemed to be talking to each other with their heads close together. Suddenly one would jump down, and start for the bushes or the other side of the pasture. They would all follow pell-mell; then in a few minutes they would come rushing back again. It was pretty to see them playing together and having a good time before the sorrowful day of their death came.