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Sunday, November 25, 2012

Gracie's turn in the spotlight

For November 22, 2012.
What a gorgeous weekend we just had. Saturday was just a blur, because I had several events to attend in succession, but I do remember it was a lovely, sunny and unseasonably warm day. A perfect day for a parade.
I planned it out in my head but I didn’t really ‘practice’ putting Gracie in fake antlers and blinking red nose, corralling her and putting her into the back of the truck for the big event. I’m lucky it went pretty much just like I imagined.
On Saturday morning at 10am, I walked briskly down the pasture with a bucket of crushed corn in my hand. I called Gracie a few times, trying not to draw attention to the candy I was carrying. Then I tripped on a rock, falling on my knees and spraying corn everywhere. When the majority of the sheep saw that rainbow of golden corn arcing through the sky, they swarmed me. The crush of sweaty sheep bodies was pretty oppressive but I managed to get out from under the huddle. And there was Gracie, standing off to the side, looking at me with, well, sheep eyes.
I held a small handful of corn under her nose so she could eat it. “C’mon Gracie. We’re going to be in the parade.” She (and about 99 others) followed me up to the barnyard. The biggest sheep kept bookending me, trying to block and tackle me the whole way up the path.
The Farmer and his friend came out of the house just then, and helped me to lift Gracie into the back of the truck, where she discovered, to her delight, three delicious bales of horse-quality hay. Many thanks to our neighbour Richard Lavigne for his donation.
“Call me if it all goes horribly wrong,” the Farmer smiled as I drove away. I’m sure he was picturing Gracie getting away from me and running down Prescott Street, stopping only to eat flowers and Christmas decorations.
At the parade loading site, Gracie munched hay and greeted passers-by while we decorated our ‘float’. We would be riding in the back of the Kinlar truck. Note to self: next year put Gracie on a real float, so when she ducks her head to eat more hay, she can still be seen by the crowd. Many just got a view of a fluffy butt.
Thank goodness I remembered to bring a poop scoop and bucket. I have never seen a sheep make such a mess of the back of a truck. She must have had a bad case of the nerves.  I walked beside the truck with my radio co-hosts Drew and Mark for most of the parade, handing out candy. I haven’t been in a parade since my Girl Guide years. It’s a little overwhelming, and if you tried to catch my eye and I walked right past you, I apologize. I was distributing candy canes and apparently I can only concentrate on one thing at a time. Next year I will simply sit on the float with Gracie and smile and wave. The parade became much more enjoyable for both of us when I ran out of candy and did that. Gracie was calmer with me by her side; she stopped bawling and lifted her head to survey the crowd.
Many times I heard “Look! A real sheep!”  I think the fake antlers were a nice touch. Gracie always wanted to be a reindeer. She wasn’t very fond of the red blinking nose, however. Kept trying to eat it.
As soon as we reached the end of the parade route, turned the truck around and upgraded to a regular speed, Gracie put her head in my lap and tried to scratch her antlers off. “Ok you can take them off now,” I told her, patting her head and giving her just a tiny bit more corn.
Back at the ranch, I opened the tailgate and tugged at Gracie’s wool until she was standing on the edge. I lifted her and she half-hopped out onto the ground. With a little “baa” she ran through the gate to meet Philip the ram, who had just been released from the barn to do his fall breeding.
All in all I think it was a pretty exciting day for Gracie. Probably not at all what she imagined when she woke up that morning.

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