The Mountain Laurel
The Journal of Mountain Life

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from the
Heart of the Blue Ridge

Bo-Peep, The Lamb

By Lois S. Poff © 1991

Issue: May, 1991

It was a cold frosty morning in March, 1920, when my father came carrying a new born lamb into the house. He said the mother had twins and wouldn't claim that one and was just butting him around. I thought he was the sweetest thing that I had ever seen.

My mother got a big box and put it by the fireplace to put him in. Then she fixed a bottle of milk to feed him. My sister, little brother and I each wanted to hold the bottle and my mother said we would have to take turns, so I got to feed him for a little while. We began wondering what to name him. I got mixed up on the nursery rhyme and said, "Let's name him "Bo-Peep."

That name suited my brother and sister so that is what we named him. We were so thrilled that we didn't want to go eat breakfast with the rest of the family.

Bo-Peep was allowed to go as he pleased in the everyday living room and kitchen, but he never went in the rest of the house. My brother rigged up a little wagon to hitch him up to, but he didn't like that and would sneak off and hide to keep from having to pull the wagon.

Sheep shearing day came and I had to go to school. As soon as I got home I went over to the barn to see what was going on. My aunt had a ewe up on a table and she was just snip, snipping her wool with wool clippers. When she finished she picked her up, carried her out to the barnyard and put her down. The ewe just stood there sort of stunned for a little while. She looked so ugly that I almost cried and my brother said it would grow back.

Most of the wool was sold but my mother kept some. She would card the wool at nights to put in quilts. She said when wool got warm, it stayed warm. She said people should keep wool clothes on children playing around a fireplace for wool wouldn't burn. She had a sheep skin that she would put on the cold floor for us to sit on to play. Sometimes she put it in her rocking chair.

When the weather got warmer, my father made a pen for Bo-Peep and put him out in the yard. We would go out, turn him out of his pen, romp and play with him until we got tired and then we would put him back in his pen.

About the time school was out my father turned him out in the pasture field adjoining the yard. He was getting large, wooly faced and beautiful. He would go way over in the field and nibble on grass. He was alone out there so he watched the gate for us to come through so he could be with us.

One day we decided to play "Fox In The Morning, Geese and the Gander." Bo-Peep was there trying to play too, but he was just a bother. My sister said to just let him be the fox. We did and he was a good one too. Almost too good. One of our bases was the sill of the wood shed which was under construction and the other base was a plank fence at the hog lot. It was a long run and Bo-Peep could outrun me. One time when he caught me he butted me over and I went sprawling out on the ground, then I jumped up and climbed up on the fence to get away from him.

After that game my sister never would play with Bo-Peep anymore. She just played in the yard but my brother and I kept on playing with him but we didn't play any more games.

On a Sunday morning I lost my first tooth and it made me sick. I walked out on the front porch where the rest of the family were sitting and fainted. I fell on my chin and it made a real bad sore. I stayed in the house until it scabbed over. In about a week when I did go out to play my sister and I wanted to go through the gate for something. She was trying to sneak through the gate without Bo-Peep seeing us, but he did see us for he watched that gate. She said, "Get back in here quick for yonder comes Bo-Peep."

I didn't get back in there for I wanted to stay out there and pet him. She said, "Just stand there, fool."

When I put my arms around him to pet him, he nudged his head up against my sore chin and knocked the scab off. I went in the house crying with the blood dripping. My mother was preparing dinner, the noon-day meal, but she stopped, took me to the wash pan on the wash stand and asked me what was the matter. Well, I didn't want Bo-Peep to get a whipping so I just told her that my sister called me a fool. As my sister came through the door, she picked her up and spanked her. Since my sister was a year older than I was, I guess she thought she hurt me.

School started and my father turned Bo-Peep out with all the rest of the sheep. Sometimes when they would all come up near the barnyard, I would go over and climb up on the plank fence around the barnyard to see Bo-Peep. I couldn't tell him from all the rest of the young rams frisking around, but my brother could and he would point him out to me. I wanted to get over there and pet him but I knew all of those sheep would trample me down. Then there was the big buck sheep that had chased a neighbor man up a tree.

I was at school the day all the lambs went to market and didn't know what was going on. One day I was walking around over in the barnyard with my brother and he whispered to me and said, "Lois, did you know Pa sold Bo-Peep?" I was so hurt that I didn't say a word. I just wondered how anyone could sell anything as sweet as Bo-Peep.