Coyotes ate the ducklings they'd watched over so lovingly. Chickens were messy and might meet the same fate as the ducklings. Uncle Pete's cattle grazed down the front acreage. Mom & Aunt Hazel were 67 and 73 respectivly, but for some reason, live stock of their own seemed important to have, so they kept sheep.
The sheep didn't need a lot of care except during lambing and mostly ambled about gnawing up plant material. They also kept the snake population down, according to Aunt Hazel. We kind of smirked when we heard that, but as usual she was right. I watched a placid ewe turn Rambo when faced with a rattler. She jumped straight up into the air and landed with one hoof on the rattler's head, and another on the middle of it's back. By the time she finished stomping, you couldn't tell what that slitherer had been. I became a believer.
The sheep lived in the barn with pasturage that ran down toward the old log cabin. A gate that appeared in photos from Mom and Hazel's childhood led from the farmhouse yard into the lot. A burn barrel held trash waiting to be disposed of when so ever the weather was wet and/or dry enough. Each week it was Hazel's chosen duty to carry the tiny bits of debris to the barrel.
She stood beside the barrel but decided it was too windy to light a fire and turned to go back through the gate. As she stepped out Old John, the lord emperor of the tiny flock put his head down and butted her face first into the dirt.
Hazel rose with her usual composure and aplomb and dusted herself off. With dignity she turned to face the old ram.
"Why, John!" she said.