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Front Porch: When the vet learns all she needs to know from my grandson, who needs me?

Tom J Bechman 1, Editor, Indiana Prairie Farmer

January 4, 2021

2 Min Read
11-year-old Graham Curtis feeding a sheep
MASTER SHEPHERD: My grandson Graham Curtis has earned his stripes working with sheep. Sometimes he knows more than Grandpa! Tom J. Bechman

Graham, 11, our grandson, burst into my office all excited one afternoon after school. Grandma had picked up an award waiting for him at the county Extension office. It was a slate plaque designating him as a “master shepherd” based on activities he did and skills he exhibited at the county 4-H sheep show last summer.

“Look here, Grandpa,” he began. “What do you think of this? I guess you’re not the only master shepherd around here.”

No one except Graham would ever confuse me for a “master shepherd” anyway. We raise a few sheep to produce enough animals for the grandkids to show. And if I wrote a book on my experiences with sheep, it would be on what not to do. We’ve had almost everything go wrong that possibly could. Almost — I don’t want to tempt fate!

Real ‘master’

Not long after Graham officially became a master shepherd, we had the veterinarian come do pregnancy checks on our 10 bred ewes. She used a fancy ultrasound device to look for baby lambs inside each ewe, much like doctors check up on human babies. Since it was a virtual learning day for Graham, he came out to help when the vet arrived.

Graham helped me corral the animals, and I held them one by one for the vet. About halfway through, while I was holding Princess, I noticed a small lump above her right eye. Princess is true royalty in this flock because she was Graham’s first show ewe. The vet confirmed she was pregnant, coming with her fourth set of lambs.

“Maybe you should check this lump,” I told the vet, puffing up for being so observant. “I don’t remember seeing it before.”

“Oh, yes, Grandpa, it was there last summer before we took them to get bred,” Graham piped up.

“It was? I don’t remember it.”

“Sure was,” Graham says. “I’m pretty sure I told you.”

Imagine that! He probably did.

Then the vet came over to look. “It’s not hard or anything,” she observed.

“No, it wasn’t hard before,” Graham says.

“Was it the same size it is now?” the vet asked Graham. By this time, she was focusing on him. I was just the sheep holder.

“Yes, it was about that size before,” Graham said. “I told Grandpa — he just doesn’t remember.”

At least he stopped before adding “… because he is old and forgetful.”

“Did she have a cut there or anything?” the vet asked. By this time, it was a two-way conversation between the vet and Graham.

“No, I don’t remember any cuts,” Graham said. “I just noticed there was a bump there.”

“OK, since it’s not hard, just keep an eye on it, OK?” the vet said, again looking only at Graham. “I don’t think we need to do anything with it right now.”

“OK, I will do that,” he answered. “Hey Grandpa, let her go and grab us another sheep to check.”

Sure thing, Graham. Who gave him that award, anyway?

About the Author(s)

Tom J Bechman 1

Editor, Indiana Prairie Farmer

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