Where the Sheep Went (Part 4)

    “Come on,” said Candace, skipping ahead.

 Shem and Delilah followed. The three sheep made their way across the cow paddock, until they came to the big barn. “Oh my!” said Delilah.

 The sheep stopped and stared in wonder at what lay inside: a mountain of stacked hay bales, machinery for milking cows, machinery for digging holes, ladders and tools and hoses and barrels, a feed trough and a water trough, blankets and tarpaulins, a small refrigerator, a radio, a dartboard and an old motorcycle. The sheep had no idea what half of those things were. “Imagine what the other sheep would say if we told them about this,” said Candace.

 “We can tell them,” said Delilah, looking back at the sheep paddock. “They’re just down there.”

 “Oh no,” said Candace. “I’m not going back. We have so much more to see.”

 “I think we should keep moving,” said Shem, as four cows came lumbering toward the barn.

 Delilah and Shem stepped aside, but Candace stood spellbound in the middle of the wide doorway. As the cows entered, one of them bumped Candace off balance and lowed. Shem and Delilah jumped back, and Candace scrambled out of the way.

 “Maybe we should go,” said Delilah.

 “Yes,” said Candace. “Let’s see what’s on the other side of the cow paddock.”

 Candace ran off up the paddock, darting between cows and leaping cow pats. Delilah and Shem raced to keep up.

    The fence at the north end of the cow paddock had only two wires stretching below the top rail—plenty of room for the young sheep to duck under the lowest wire and scurry through. Only Delilah took a quick look back down the slope. The sheep paddock seemed so far away. Candace bleated with delight at the open field before her. The grass was thick and bright green, leading right up to the farmhouse. Small white butterflies flew in their wobbly manner, low above the clover patches, and a family of little wrens skipped about nearby. A breeze rushed up behind them; on top of the big round hill in the middle of the field, the drooping leaves of the willow tree swayed and swished.

 “Do you see what I see?” whispered Candace.

 “It’s getting darker,” said Delilah.

 “No,” said Candace. “There are no fences.”

 That was not exactly true. They could see the timber rail fence around the horse yard, and if they had looked for it, they would have just made out the wire fence marking the edge of the property far up at the northern hill. Otherwise, Candace’s sentiment was right; the sheep could go wherever they wanted.

    Candace wanted to go see the horses, but Shem was determined to first climb the big round hill to see if the grass up there tasted different to the grass in the sheep paddock. It didn’t. Candace grabbed a few low-hanging willow leaves in her mouth and chewed for a moment before spitting them out. She was thrilled. Grey clouds gathered in the east and began drifting toward the farm. The three sheep trotted down the far side of the big round hill and over to the horse yard. Gaping in awe, they stared at the old Clydesdale eating grass in the yard. They had never seen a creature so tall.

 “I dreamed of this moment,” said Candace. She ducked under the lower fence rail and stepped into the yard.

 Shem smiled and looked at Delilah. “Let’s go and meet the horses.”

 He crossed under the fence and trotted after Candace. Delilah tapped her hooves and paced back and forward. She looked at the horse in the yard. The old Clydesdale was so big, like someone had built her, like they had built the barns and the farmhouse. Her legs were the size of small tree trunks. The old Clydesdale flicked her tail. The air was getting cooler. Delilah whined, then huffed, then followed Candace and Shem under the fence.

© 2021 MILES VENISON ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

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