Thursday, January 17, 2008

Mom Goes Herdiing

Sailor here.

Today Mom herded. And I had to watch from afar. Actually from a window.

“Gee, Sailor,” Mom said at breakfast (hers AND mine). “We sure had a windstorm last night. Gotta go clean up.”

With that, she walked out the back door and returned with the dog dryer under her arm.

“Mom,” I said, “am I going to have that B-word first?”

“No, you’re safe, Sailor. You may know this as a dog dryer, but most of our neighbors think it’s really a leaf blower. I am going to herd today. “

“Herd? Just WHAT are you going to herd? Can I come?”

“I think you’ll be safer inside instead of running around barking your head off like you do when you protect me from the dreaded mop.”

“You’re mopping?”

“Yeah,” she smiled at me. “More like mopping up.”

“Sheep?” I persisted. “Suffolk? Southdown? Rambouillet?”

“Sheep. Mostly Maple Leaves and Redwood Needles.”

“Hmmm, Needles,” I thought, “Strange breed of sheep. They must have long noses like collies.”

But Mom ignored me and trotted outside leaving me to watch from the living room window.

Mom turned on the dog dryer and started herding. She had a little trouble on her first outrun, splitting the flock and herding some of the leaves back into the garage. She regrouped and started over. Her next outrun was wonderful. The leaves didn’t lift very well, but rustled around until she got closer and then, dog alive, did they ever gather! She had things well under control until it was time for the drive.

Mom’s Needles are, well, sheepish. She couldn’t get them all to drive together because the larger the flock, the heavier the leaves, and the leaves and needles got stuck and wouldn’t move very well. She resorted to sorting them into smaller flocks and had much better luck. Maple Leaves gathered better than Redwood ones. Redwood Needles drove faster than Maple Leaves. Her drive was outstanding - boy, can Mom ever move her leaves! A flock of them galloped under the Dog car, and she gathered them up and headed them off in the right direction. She drove the rest of the leaves through the wheels of the daughter’s car and onto the dirt.

“Way to me! Come by!” I heard her yell above the roar of the dog dryer as she swept back and forth behind her flocks.

When the leaves and needles were all penned into the dirt area, one large, bubble-wrapped sheep-like blob stood out from the rest.

“Ah,” I groaned, “The dreaded shed.”

Mom’s shed was awful. The leaves were too light, the dog dryer too heavy and she had no way to fix this. Mom herds on only one speed, it seems: Fast. If she put the dryer on a down, it would have flown in circles all across the driveway. I know because she actually did this. Fortunately, the result was similar to when a bunch of sheepdogs run onto the field where the sheep aren’t and just dash around until they are called back.

Finally, she gave up on the shed and turned off the dryer. She bent over and picked up the bubbly plastic sheep and threw in into the garbage can.

When she came back inside, she turned to me and asked, “Well, how’d I do, Sailor?”

“Sixty-eight,” I answered, feeling kind and generous.

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