The flock at the DHV farmstead just doubled in size with the arrival of two new sheep. Our existing flock of two Rambouillet sheep, MayBelle and Marvella, couldn’t feel any safety in numbers without more friends. Sheep rarely make use of social networking opportunities, so the human staff searched the hinterlands, looking for compatible, people-oriented sheep interested in museum work. The successful candidates were raised on a bucolic farm in the town of Blue Ridge, in northern Collin County. Their mama is a Baby Doll Southdown, a diminutive breed of sheep. Daddy, however, was a standard, large Southdown, so the boys weigh in at 200 pounds. As Southdowns, they can trace their heritage back to England, but were born and raised as Texans.
I journeyed to Blue Ridge to interview the candidates. They were dressed appropriately in interview suits of freshly-shorn sheepskin. They came when called and allowed me to pat their heads and comment on their good looks. (Please note: it is the museum’s policy not to do that to human job applicants.) Thanks to their Baby Doll heritage, both wear what appears to be a friendly smile. Both assured me of their excellent health, and that a youthful operation had eliminated all desire for the playboy ways of their daddy, so they are prepared to devote themselves to their careers.
I hired Winston on the spot, but had to negotiate further with his brother. Starbucks has to give up the second “S” in his name, if he wants to portray a nineteenth-century sheep. There were no purveyors of skinny lattes on the Texas frontier. But if there had been, customers could have sipped as they read Moby Dick, featuring the character “Starbuck.” My terms were acceptable, transportation arranged, and I left with the signed employment contracts.
It might have been a good idea to discuss this ahead of time with MayBelle and Marvella. They were not happy to see country cousins arrive, eyeing their grass and….smiling? Appeals to sheep loyalty fell flat. So I embraced their sense of sophisticated superiority and instituted a mentoring program. Soon MayBelle was boring Winston with a Powerpoint presentation on the parts of a sheep. He was pleased that humans would love to watch him eat, but terribly confused by the suggestion to seek privacy for bathroom functions. Marvella ruthlessly directed Starbuck in agility training. “Try again,” she bellowed, tooting the whistle hanging around her wooly neck and waving her stopwatch. “Circle the compost, trot to the gate, then run for a graceful leap over the log, and don’t smash face-first into the barn this time!”
The boys are exhausted from their first days at the hardest job they’ll ever love, and the girls feel an unsheeply sense of authority. Most importantly, they are now a unified flock of educators, eager to greet you at the farmstead.