When I was a Boy Scout, at the appointed hour when it was said that the snipes were running, the Tenderfoot Scouts were marched deep into a snowy night holding paper bags for catching snipes. I remember being excited about the prospect of catching a snipe, imagining that this feat would elicit admiration for me from the older scouts. One of the older scouts lined the ten or twelve of us Tenderfoot Scouts across the woods parallel to a road on a ridge a couple hundred yards away. He carefully spaced us at least ten feet apart and instructed us with great seriousness about how to hunker down in the snow so we could hold our bags open very close to the ground facing the line of snipe drivers who would drive the snipes toward us. Not everyone would catch a snipe, we were counseled, only the most observant and fast-acting.
Then the older scout left.
The sheep is a Merino. Lying down, the sheep is a mound of wool the texture of which looks like rows of orchard trees from the air. Her wool is caked with gray, dried dirt as if Mount St. Helens had just belched up all over her. Her wool is prized by backpackers for their socks.
The sheep stretches out her neck, utters an abbreviated bleet, the call, my daughter Katie says, is the Mother's call to newborn lambs. The sheep is pregnant; she’s in "pre-labor," my daughter's colleague Jordan terms it. The sheep stretches, paws at the straw as if to make a suitable nest for the lamb to come. Then she lies down, backs down back into the earth to rest.