Maggie passed today.  She was our first Shetland ewe lamb and became mother, grandmother, great- and great-great-grandmother to our current flock of 30 Shetland Sheep.

We can only be sad for ourselves to say goodbye to her so unexpectedly.  She showed no signs of suffering, no signs of illness or weakness amongst the flock out in the pastures this summer, grazing or resting under their favorite row of pines.

This morning we found her still, wooly body lying in the corner of the field closest to the house and barn.  When we collected her, the rest of the flock approached us from the other pastures and gathered, some of the ewes coming in closer to be pet, then following us as we took her away.

Near the apple trees where our first ewe, Annie, is marked by a garden of daffodils, we lay her body to rest.  Sarah Jane & Char picked sunflowers and nasturtiums to decorate her wool and, in the drizzle and spit of the stormy evening, we sat at her graveside and toasted her with a very old bottle of scotch before sifting hands-full of soft earth to fill in the hole.

We will all feel the loss of our Mags.  She consistently and quietly modeled for the rest of the flock, contributing her good-looking traits to the gene pool, showing everyone how much could be gained by stepping up to the farmers for a jolly good massage when you had an itch.  Tentative lambs and anxious ewes would cast an eye and see how she trusted her people and then move forward for their own position in the petting-line.

I’d just never even thought of a day without our grey girl. I’m grateful she won’t go into winter with any sort of illness or battle to fight.  I’m grateful she died peacefully and quickly, no suffering or deterioration evident.  I’m grateful that I sat out with her in the field for a catch-up just the day before.

I thought about how much I loved this girl and how much she’s given us.  Fleeces over the past ten years to spin into yarn, yarn into hats, scarves, mittens, sweaters and blankets.  Sweet, warm companionship to put you in a proper good mood.  Communicating eyes.  Steadfast, agreeable temperament and trust. Lots of healthy, beautiful babies.

Thank you, dear old friend.  You are among the Wing And A Prayer-greats.  We will miss you.

Maggie  2-1-04  -  8-13-14

2-1-04 – 8-13-14

12 responses to “Matriarch

  1. Oh Tammy. My heart is sad for you. I know how much you love each and every being in your family…..including the wolly ones. So sad to hear of Maggie’s passing. Happy to celebrate her full life with you. She will be sorely missed. Rest peacefully, Maggie.

  2. Oh Tammy, I am so sorry to hear of Maggie’s passing. Every animal on your farm has a special place in your hearts. She will surely be missed, but always be dearly remembered.

  3. How strange to look at pastures green and know that Maggie won’t be seen
    But as the sun sets every day her gentle spirit wends its way
    Into the shapes and sounds she helped create with trust and grace that permeate
    Your hearts and minds that won’t let go because we know she loved you so.


    • Oh Gail, that was beautiful. Thank you so much. You know how much she has meant to me. XO

      P.S.: I saw Ellie at the Farmers’ Market and told her you and I were taking her to lunch one day!

  4. Not that this will, like many of the previous comments, make things any better … but Joanna and I have always (and I mean … ALWAYS) observed that ‘if you’re gonna have animals … you’re gonna lose them.’ The losing is tough however, especially when a such a central figure is no more. Joanna was brought to near-tears the other day as we were going through some very old fleeces that we simply haven’t been able to part with. And, I mean OLD fleeces, some more than a decade old. As we took these out of their wrappings we saw names which are expressed (genetically) in our current flock but which we haven’t uttered for years. Fern, Ivy, Iris, Linnet … oh, the memories these names brought back … and immediately so. They are names, like Maggie, that we will never, ever, ever, forget. Joanna can feel the fleece and see their kind faces. You have not only our sympathy, but our empathy as well, for we know what it is like to suffer the loss of a great-old-gal like your Mags. Delight in the new lambs, for they represent the future of your flock. Be assured that Maggie’s temperament and her approach to all things remains at Wing and a Prayer. D

    • Thank you, D, you speak wisely. It is true that they are imprinted in our lives and the ability to use their wool, wow, so much more meaningful. My lambs are a boisterous bunch this summer – so much fun. I’m keeping them all, at this point. I love to see Maggie in them, too. And I am grateful to you for your empathy. Things are going well, for the moment, and I am just savoring the sweetness of some beautiful summer days right now. I hope all is well in your home/on your farm. I’m sorry to hear that you are not making strides in selling the farm to relocate. I cannot help you there. If I ever hear of someone looking to farm in your area, I will direct them your way.
      Getting ready for Sheep & Wool Festival as well as a couple of workshops here in the next month – super busy!

    • Thank you, Kathy. The farther away from it I am, the more I am grateful for the blessing-in-disguise that she passed peacefully, that she didn’t appear to have a period of suffering. And oh my goodness, her babies SURE do look like her!! I love it!

    • Thank you for this, Carol, from back when Mags died. I am appreciative to you for sending your love.

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